What Emma Read: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett


First impressions before reading the book:

I’d remembered reading about this I think in a Waterstones email that was sent to me. I’ve bought quite a few books this month and this was one that I picked up on one of my many trips to the book store. Aside from what I read on the back which gives very little detail, I didn’t know anything.

The back does mention that one meeting changed their lives, and I am an absolute sucker for chaos theory and the idea that one thing can change people’s lives definitely drew me in.

The plot:

The two main characters Eva and Jim come together in a chance meeting in Cambridge when they’re students. The book follows three different versions of their lives, from when they’re students up until they’re older.

I don’t want to say too much because it might spoil what happens in the timelines, but the book revolves entirely around relationships, and the way that the characters connect with each other throughout the course of their lives.


The characters:

The main characters of the novel are Eva and Jim, but David is also a pretty significant character in quite a bit of the versions, some more so than others.

As the novel follows three different versions of Eva and Jim’s lives, the characters differ depending on what version you’re reading. For example children’s names change depending on the version, and partners names do too.

I actually found this got quite confusing, because there’s no description of what each version is, I found myself kind of differentiating the versions by children and partner names.


Would I recommend it?

I spent quite a large portion of this book a bit confused because I never really knew what was coming next, or which version of the story I was in. The main story stays the same, but what changes is the reaction to the events depending on the relationships the characters are part of in that specific period/version.

I thought it was a really interesting concept, and had I got on better with the way it was set out I think I would have rated it more highly than I did. That’s not to say I disliked the book or anything, because I didn’t. I tend to stay away from novels which focus around relationships, because that’s really not something I’m interested in reading about but I’m trying really hard to broaden my horizons and not read so many psychological thrillers so I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

All in all, I don’t think it’s a bad book. I think it’s often a little confusing, and a bit repetitive because you’re reading the same chain of events through three versions of a story, but that adds to the charm of the book I guess. If anything, by the end of the third version at least I knew what had happened.

I ended up giving this one three stars, purely because I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it at all. If you like stories about relationships and the idea that one moment could shape your life, give this one a shot.

This was book 11 out of 50 for my Goodreads challenge this year (yes I know, I’m really behind!) I don’t post reviews for every book I read, so if you’d like to keep up to date with what I’m reading in real time or see what else I’ve read this year you can find me here.

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