The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett


Girl meets boy. Boy meets girl. Girl doesn’t meet boy. Eva and Jim collide, metaphorically and literally, when she crashes her bike at university in Cambridge.

The Versions of Us is like a plait; the three parallel universes that spin off that Ines fateful meeting, with the separate strands converging at pivotal life moments. The pivotal moment spins off into three alternative versions of their lives through the next 50 years.

It’s like that 90s film Sliding Doors (Gwyneth Paltrow at her best). In a good way, I promise. You desperately long for Eva and Jim to make it to happily ever after  in all three scenarios, so believable is their relationship and are their characters.

The flip side of the focus on the central pair means that we are lost in a tundra of the alternative names of secondary characters. I had real difficulty keeping track of the relative truths, relations and backstories. Most of them are just white noise.

So in that sense it’s very much a ‘bourgeoise’ romance, but one where the gimmick works rather than irks. It nudges me to dreamily speculate about how our experiences shape us, chance, and what could have been.

Read: If you’ve ever wondered ‘what if?’

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