Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of UsWhat’s it about?

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

My thoughts

Although the Netgalley challenge has finished I still have a couple of books left on my reading list that I wanted to read and feed back on. This book has been there since about April so it was about time!

I’ve seen this book likened to One Day meets Sliding Doors which pretty much nails it: I can’t analogise any better!

“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take”

I did enjoy this book, it’s quite slow paced and very character invested; I did feel engaged with the characters and the 3 different plot lines but the problem I had was the actual structure and format of the book itself.

Let me explain…it starts on Version 1, the next chapter Version 2, the next Version 3. It then goes back to Version 1 and repeat, you get the idea. This meant I was struggling to remember what’s happened in the previous Versions, it was impossible to read and not make notes or flick back several chapters to refresh your memory. Although each of the Versions share main characters, scenes, events and conversations obviously things take different courses.

The book is written in 3 parts and I wonder if maybe it would have been better to have Version 1 as Part 1, Version 2 as Part 2 etc rather than all intermingled but this is just my personal preference in order to alleviate the memory issues.

As I was reading I was constantly wondering which Version is the real Version; or as a reader do we make up our mind as to which Version we would have preferred to be the true Version. If that’s the case, I think Version 2 would be my preferred.

Despite my issues with the format and structure of this novel it’s incredibly well written with a clever plot. I did feel slightly bereft although relieved when I finished it.

It does just end but I felt that it was all wrapped up rather nicely.

“This is how it ends…
It also ends here…
It ends here too…”

It’s definitely worth the read if you can handle the 3 way plot.

You can listen to Laura Barnett discussing The Versions of Us on Radio 4’s Open Book programme here.

Many thanks to the publishers W&N for approving me for an ARC via Netgalley.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Laura Barnett

Website | Twitter

Jera's Jamboree/Talk of the Town

WWW Wednesday (October 28th)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

WWW Wednesday

To join in, just answer the following three questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading…

You, Me & Other PeopleYou, Me & Other People by Fionnuala Kearney

Interesting start to this novel, told in turn by Adam and Beth his affair has been revealed (not a spoiler, happens in first chapter, might even have been the first page) and we are now to-ing and fro-ing with the consequences and effects. Am only around 12% in so not sure what sort of story this will turn out to be….

The blurb

They say every family has skeletons in their closet . . .

But what happens when you open the door and they won’t stop tumbling out?

For Adam and Beth the first secret wasn’t the last, it was just the beginning.

You think you can imagine the worst thing that could happen to your family, but there are some secrets that change everything.

And then the question is, how can you piece together a future when your past is being rewritten?


I recently finished reading

The Versions of UsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Despite my issues with the format and structure of this novel it’s incredibly well written, and a clever plot. I did feel slightly bereft although relieved when I finished it. Definitely worth the read if you can handle the 3 way plot.

The blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

And I also finished

Snowflakes on Silver CoveSnowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

Read in one day last weekend when I was full of cold in bed. It’s a light-hearted fun read that rom-com fans will love. I enjoyed it but am now taking a break from what are classed as ‘chick-lit’ reads.

The blurb

Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.

But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?


What’s up next?

84 charing cross road84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Apparently this is a book that should be on every book lover’s to read list and it’s a book I came across via The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.

Claire at Art & Soul and I will be reading this as a kind of read-along this week. We’ve not really planned a strict timeline of reading what by when but we’ll be discussing via Twitter as we go. Will be fun to have someone to chat to as I read.

The blurb

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

 

Have you read any of this week’s choices? Do let me know or leave your link below…

WWW Wednesday (October 21st)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

WWW Wednesday

To join in, just answer the following three questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading…

The Versions of UsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

I’m over half way through this book and I do really like it. I feel quite invested and engaged with the characters and the 3 different plots. The problem I have, is the actual structure and format of the book itself. It starts on Version 1, the next chapter Version 2, the next Version 3. It then goes back to Version 1 and repeat, you get the idea. This means I’m struggling to remember what’s happened in the previous Versions, it’s impossible not to make notes or flick back several chapters to refresh your memory.

The blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

I recently finished reading

Death by DangerousDeath by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis

Loved this book!  I’m a huge John Grisham fan and love American legal thrillers so I thought this book might be overshadowed by my expectations being UK based also.

But it had everything I wanted for a gripping read. Fast paced and tense with likeable characters and unpredictable twists…nothing else to say except give it a go!

The blurb

Death by Dangerous is a compelling legal thriller set in Manchester and Bradford.

John Anderson is one of the North West’s most dedicated and successful prosecution barristers. His career is going from strength to strength and he is on the verge of becoming Queen’s Counsel. But the life he once knew suddenly comes crashing down following a fatal road traffic accident…

What’s up next?

Snowflakes on Silver CoveSnowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

Again, this one is for a book tour coming up shortly. I do generally enjoy Holly’s books but after this I think I’m giving rom-com’s a break as I’m finding nothing new in them. Maybe I’m just not reading the right ones….

The blurb

Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.

But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Have you read any of this week’s choices? Do let me know or leave your link below…

WWW Wednesday (October 14th)

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to post this week as I’ve had such a busy week my reading rate has suffered somewhat. But here I am…true dedication to Wednesday posting!

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

WWW Wednesday

To join in, just answer the following three questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading…

Death by DangerousDeath by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis

I just started this last night and haven’t read very much at all so not much to report here.

The blurb

Death by Dangerous is a compelling legal thriller set in Manchester and Bradford.

John Anderson is one of the North West’s most dedicated and successful prosecution barristers. His career is going from strength to strength and he is on the verge of becoming Queen’s Counsel. But the life he once knew suddenly comes crashing down following a fatal road traffic accident…

I recently finished reading

The Broken Hearts Book ClubThe Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

A light, fluffy, easy read and utterly predictable. I had hoped for something a little different but this is everything you’d expect it to be; there’s nothing wrong with that and lots of readers will thoroughly enjoy but I was a little bored (despite the book references).

The blurb

Secrets never stay buried for long…

Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…

Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!

Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.

One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she’s kept buried for so long – or spend the rest of her life on the run…

What’s up next?

The Versions of UsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Although the Netgalley challenge has finished, I still have a couple of books left on my reading list that I want to read and feed back on. This has been there since about April so time to read I think!

The blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

Have you read any of this week’s choices? Do let me know or leave your link below…

WWW Wednesday (September 16th)

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

WWW Wednesday

To join in, just answer the following three questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading…

The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Lots of mentions of other literary works in here which I like. So far, a good natured feel good book.

The blurb

Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.

But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

I recently finished reading 2 books

The Slaughter ManThe Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons

I read this in one day over the weekend, a combination of a good storyline and time on my hands. It’s quite brutal from the opening scenes so not one for the faint-hearted.

The blurb

A murdered family. A dying serial killer. A missing child. DC Max Wolfe hunts a pitiless killer through the streets of London. By the Sunday Times number one bestselling author of The Murder Bag.

 

and….

Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Ok, so was a little strange reading a Christmas novel in September but this was a light-hearted fun novel and was well needed after reading a dark serial killer novel.

I hate seeing all the Christmas stuff in the shops so early

The blurb

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

What’s up next?

The Versions of UsThe Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett

Am progressing really well with the Netgalley Challenge and this will be book 5. After speaking with a fellow blogger about this book at the Book Blogger Bonanza last weekend I decided to go for this one next.

The blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

Do share what you’re reading this week in the comments below