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The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
  

The Versions of Us

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One of our Books of the Year 2015.

June 2015 Debut of the Month.

In all likelihood this summer’s big hit, and deservedly so, this enchanting and at times poignant debut novel by Guardian journalist Laura Barnett ticks all the boxes (and has already been swooped on by TV for adaptation as a mini series). Spanning the lives of a couple (and their friends, lovers and family) over several decades from Cambridge undergraduates to old age with an affection for the characters that drips off the page, we follow the subtle (and at times frustrating ) way insignificant moments can change the unfurling of a life and how happiness can sometimes depend on the smallest incident –a dog colliding or not with a cyclist- and the road of life can so easily bifurcate into alternate and often contradictory existences. A gentle book which will appeal to fans of David Nicholls and well beyond, in the way that a clever existential concept can illuminate the seesaw nature of people’s lives but still displays an endearing voice of its own. I loved it. ~ Maxim Jakubowski

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Ruth Carson - 'it is probably the best novel I have read so far this year and I would highly recommend it.'
  • Linda Birt - 'I highly recommend this book, Laura Barnett has us considering our own lives and 'What if's'.'
  • Val Brown - 'Fascinating debut novel from Laura Barnett, complex and intriguing. A really satisfying read, I almost didn’t want it to end.'
  • Lynne Morgan - 'Laura Barnett poses a very interesting question for us all in this book, which will make you think about where you would be now, had you just done things a little differently, or simply made a different choice.'
  • Sarah Harper - 'Heartbreaking and beautiful, this is a love story which will make you laugh, cry and seriously consider the ‘what if?’ moments in your own life.'
  • Angela O'Donovan - 'Great storyline/s - we all make choices which direct our paths in life. Sometimes, we can't help look back and think 'what if..? This novel explores that idea with a cast of characters...'
  • Stephanie Harding - 'The ending was poignant and beautifully written, I thought. A very enjoyable read and I would look out for this Author again.'
  • Katie Hoare - 'a beautifully written debut, written with fluidity and with each version taking its turn, as well as each scenario being treated with empathy and warmth.'
  • Jo Turner - 'Wow! I've just finished reading this book and can hardly begin to describe how it's made me feel...a fantastic read and I can't wait to see what follows from such an amazing debut novel.'
  • Sophia Ufton - 'This book is brilliant, three different versions of a man and a women. Amazing!!'
  • Sarah Webb - 'A great ‘what if’ story.'
  • Sue Broom - 'Along with intelligent and sophisticated plot construction, I was equally impressed by the quality of her writing - and to think this is a debut novel!'
  • Alex Hetherington - 'The novel is illuminated with a sense of vibrancy I have rarely come across, it has that ability to age and nurture its characters with such boldness.'
  • Maureen Evans - 'Wonderful concept, elegantly written. The three accounts of possible relationships for a young couple meeting by chance had me enthralled right from the start. This summer’s must read!'
  • Katy Noyes - 'Three lives lived from one moment in time, swerving (or not) to avoid a dog in the road. Students Eva and Jim are the leads in this parallel life novel that has heart, pathos and love at its core.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Oh dear.  We all do have those ‘what if’ moments, so this was a book that really took my eye.  I just did not find it captured my interest.'

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Synopsis

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Some moments can change your life for ever. Have you ever wondered, what if...? 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. The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we go through the vagaries of life.

Reviews

'It's annoying when a book won't let you give it up. You put it to one side and think maybe I will read that later because you have more important things to do. And there it is the next day, in your hands, wide open, pulling you back in, just not letting you go... As a first novel this is quite an accomplishment.' NEWBOOKSMAG

'It's hard to believe this is Laura Barnett's debut novel. It's so sophisticated and well put-together - I'm completely in awe of how Barnett managed to write not just one story, but three, and make them all work perfectly together.' GIRL! REPORTER

'glorious... a book that I think will do incredibly well come its release' A CASE FOR BOOKS

About the Author

Laura Barnett

Laura Barnett is a writer, journalist and theatre critic. She has been on staff at the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, and writes for a number of national newspapers and magazines. Laura was born in 1982 in south London, where she now lives with her husband. She studied Spanish and Italian at Cambridge University, and newspaper journalism at City University, London.

Her first non-fiction book, Advice from the Players - a compendium of advice for actors - is published by Nick Hern Books. Laura has previously published short stories, for which she has won several awards. The Versions of Us is her first novel and has sold in 24 countries, with television rights optioned by Trademark Films. Laura is currently working on her second novel Greatest Hits.

Author photo © Rick Morris Pushinsky

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Book Info

Publication date

28th May 2015

Author

Laura Barnett

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Author's Website

www.laura-barnett.co.uk/
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Publisher

Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co

Format

Hardback
416 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9781474600163

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