I WANTED IT TO BE GOOD SO BAD
Name: The Versions Of Us
Author: Laura Barnett
A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life.
Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.
Blurb from Goodreads
Clever idea, right? At first, the concept was what interested me… even if I was worried from a review I’d seen on the back talking about its ‘tear jerking conclusion’. (Whenever I see a statement like that on a book, this TikTok sound starts in my head. The one that’s like Oh nO. oH no. Oh nononono…). But more on that later.
The Versions Of Us was
sometimes a bit confusing. It spanned between three different versions of the same year, that all were (pretty loosely) derived from the moment Jim and Eva first met. The versions were very similar in some parts, with all the characters attending the same events and the only changes being who they were with or the names of their children – there was a lot of children. Can you see why I got confused? So the repetition of the scenes could become a little boring but for the most part the pacing was really good.
I didn’t like that Jim’s ‘greatest painting’ was also called the Versions of Us. When book titles that aren’t just the name of something, you have to be sneaky putting it into the book. And it was really layered on thick, especially at the end. It was all: three pOsIble paths. tHreE versions that cOuLd hAvE been taken (I know! I read the book!!) Personally, endings are so important because they leave you with your overall impression of a book. And my impression wasn’t the best: it was one of those endings where it’s two characters talking somewhere. One of them is like “Are you ready to go??’ and the other swipes a curl behind their ear and looks in the sunset and says in a quivering but very firm voice “Yes. I’m ready.”
IT CAN SOMETIMES BE POWERFUL BUT IT FELT REALLY CRINGEY.
Also, Jim and Eva didn’t seem like nice people! They weren’t that likeable, Jim especially, and I REALLY disagreed with some of their actions. (Spoiler: there was a lot of cheating.). It surprised me how I was much more invested in the side characters. However, the writing was very rich, high quality, not humorous like I’d anticipated. It made you think about mortality, how relationships change and had some strong moral ideas.
Basically, the Versions of Us is addictive. It had a clever concept that I feel could have been carried out in a smoother way, but it was well paced and the characters were fleshed out. One review on the cover described it as One Day meets Sliding Doors and I can’t put it better. So, if you like the look of it, or like either of them, I would recommend that you try The Versions Of Us. But not if you want a read that isn’t confusing!