Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett

Contemporary Ficiton 5*s
Contemporary Ficiton
5*s

The premise of this book is principally what would two lives look should a certain path not taken, a ‘sliding doors’ scenario. A good few years ago I read Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World which is a pretty bleak look at one woman’s life depending on whether she kisses a man, or not. The incident that kicks off the three different lives is a student falling off her bike whilst studying at Cambridge University in October 1958.

Eva meets, or doesn’t quite meet Jim following a swerve to miss a dog and getting a puncture in her bicycle, the scene is beautifully set and both characters are exceptionally well-drawn and realistic. The story isn’t just about the one moment though, different circumstances cause a whole chain of events which take us finally up to the present day where the story ends with three mirror images which beautifully rounded off an emotionally charged book.
This is billed as three love stories but to me it was far more than that – this is a book about all types of relationships, with mental illness, aging and illness featuring as well as the more joyful aspects of life such as good family bonds, successful careers and all those small celebratory moments that are shared with loved ones.

Each section is headed with Version One, Two or Three depending on the story being told along with the month and the year being depicted which are fortunately chronologically ordered. The complexity of the three intertwined stories featuring the same three main characters as well of course wider family in common meant that at each changeover point I had to do a mental recap of which story was which, this slowed my reading down but in a peculiar way it was refreshing to remind myself what each of the characters were doing before commencing reading.

It is hard to capture in words just how beautiful yet realistic the stories are covering everyday events as well as those bigger life-changing ones. At times the stories are incredibly sad but as the chapters are relatively short one version may be full of sadness whereas another has Eva or Jim having a more enjoyable life. With Eva a writer and Jim an artist this book is full of imagery most strikingly a painting entitled The Versions of Us.

With so many different lives to track over decades, this novel could easily have been an incomprehensible read but instead I could only marvel at the author’s prowess in constructing brilliant characters, a feel for each time period touched upon and allowing the reader to explore and wonder about the chance events that can change the course of lives.

The Versions of Us was published in May 2015 and released as a paperback in December of last year, I am so glad I bought a copy this is a book I think I will re-read at some point.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 17)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I currently reading a non-fiction read, Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington

Last Woman Hanged

You can read a synopsis and an extract from this book in yesterday’s post

I have just finished The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett an interesting book about how a missed moment can change the course of lives!

The Versions of Us

Blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?
Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.
The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow. What if one small decision could change the rest of your life? Amazon

Next I’m planning on reading The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan, the author of The Girl in the Photograph

The Shadow Hour

Blurb

Two generations of women, and one house that holds the terrible secrets of their pasts
1922. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house’s inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother’s tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house’s very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own.
Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is? NetGalley

So that’s my books sorted for the week – What have you chosen?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (January 9)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Oh dear, oh dear… With that Amazon voucher burning a hole in my pocket it was inevitable that there would be some new acquisitions so I hatched a cunning plan; I would order books before the New Year in order to start afresh… what I didn’t bargain for was that I didn’t complete the process so when I next switched on my laptop there were three books waiting to be purchased in my basket.

Book one is one I’ve wanted for such a long time – I loved Sliding Doors and this is a book that explores the same premise and was published in paperback on 31 December 2015: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnnett

The Versions of Us

Blurb

What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything… One Day meets Sliding Doors in this outstanding debut that is causing a buzz across the publishing world
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. Goodreads

Silent Hours by Cesca Major has received rave reviews around the blogosphere including being featured on Bookaholic Confessions 15 Best Books of 2015, so I just had to have a copy too.

The Silent Hours

Blurb

An epic, sweeping tale of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France.
The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:
Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;
Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;
Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.
Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss. Goodreads

And finally after falling in love with The Go-Between last year I have a copy of The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley despite it having the shortest synopsis I’ve ever come across, I’m assured it is brilliant.

The Shrimp and the Anemone

Blurb

An evocative account of a childhood summer spent beside the sea in Norfolk by brother and sister, Eustace and Hilda. Amazon

Lastly I was delighted to open a mystery parcel on Wednesday, for once my protestations that I hadn’t bought or asked for this book was actually true! Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary is going to be published on 7th April 2016. If this is anything like as good as Someone Else’s Skin and No Other of the Darkness this will be a fabulous read.

Tastes Like Fear

Blurb

You’ll never be out of Harm’s way
The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.
A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.
To the one man who understands her.
Gives her shelter.
Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.
He’s the head of her new family.
He’s Harm.
DI Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.
Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear… Goodreads

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 2 books, and gained 5 (one doesn’t have any details to share with you all yet), leading to a grand total of 174 books!
86 physical books
74 e-books
14 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?