Monday, 14 March 2016

Review of 'The Versions of Us' by Laura Barnett

This book actually signified a learning curve for me in life and literature. When I started reading I was presented with three 'versions' in the life of Eva and Jim. They all start with them meeting at Cambridge with Eva on her bicycle and Jim taking a stroll. One ends in them falling in love and staying together, in one they never speak, but only see each other, and in the last they have a brief liaison before she returns to her old boyfriend. 

Where I went wrong in the book was in waiting for the author to let me know which was the right version of Jim and Eva's lives, and I found it increasingly frustrating that in all of them there were good and bad parts. That is, until I realised that this was the entire point of the novel: there is no perfect version of your life, and although the grass may always seem greener on the other side of your decisions it does not mean it is. 

Each chapter has a date and Barnett takes you through what some, or all, of the versions of Eva and Jim are doing on those days. Sometimes we only see what one of them is doing, sometimes both. I've previously stated my current dislike of every single award-nominated or winning book seeming to have multiple narratives, so to find another one was a tad grating. However, what I had most trouble with was that each date didn't always have all three versions, or all of them in the correct order, so I had to keep reminding myself of which one was which and constantly redrawing the little strands together. If you like interesting narrative structures, this might prove a fun read for you!

Have you read it? What did you think?

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