It all started with missed train at 18:09 (or thereabouts) from Charing Cross, a dead phone and a cold weekday evening. It was when red cheeks, frozen fingers and the unannounced timings of the next train all were incredibly present, that I was led into W H Smith and ended up reaching for ‘The Versions of Us’ to satisfy impending boredom on my phone-less journey home…
But what if my phone hadn’t died? What if the weather had been warmer and I’d decided to walk to the station and caught the train with 20% charge to spare? Would I have discovered this beautiful book? A book based around the sole premise of what if and the small, but poignant implications fate has on our paths and future. Who knows? (Perhaps that’s another novel in there) But I’m incredibly glad I did come across this debut by my new literary love, Laura Barnett.
Described as a combination of ‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘One Day’ (having only read the latter, I was still sold)- this warming, and thought provoking book tells the story of Eva and Jim, two Cambridge students- throughout their lives- from their initial meeting, through various life events- and how things may have been shaped differently had they made different decisions. Told in three versions throughout (which is surprisingly easy to keep track of), you are led fluidly through the various outcomes as the story goes on (which makes a pleasant change from the books where you have to ‘select’ the ending yourself and end up getting in a bit of a pickle)- making the book easily digestible, hugely engaging and completely wonderful. Once, you reach the end, it’s the kind of book you feel you could easily read again and pick up something new from- which is good, as I don’t know if I’m quite ready to detach myself from that brilliant Cambridge couple just yet.