Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Versions of Us” as Want to Read:
The Versions of Us
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

The Versions of Us

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  16,535 ratings  ·  2,201 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published June 4th 2015 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published May 28th 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Versions of Us, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Marianne just came to it myself in the real book, not on Kindle. It's on p101 of 9781474600170, a page and a bit before Part Two: "Men who always won the game,…morejust came to it myself in the real book, not on Kindle. It's on p101 of 9781474600170, a page and a bit before Part Two: "Men who always won the game, without even bothering to learn the rules"

Pretty sure this is what you are after....(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Laura Good catch! I suppose we could assume that she lost the very early pregnancy without realizing she was pregnant in the other timeline. . .…moreGood catch! I suppose we could assume that she lost the very early pregnancy without realizing she was pregnant in the other timeline. . . (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,535 ratings  ·  2,201 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Versions of Us
Karen ⊰✿
I like the concept of the book, and the characters and story lines were well written. The issue is that the book is just hard work. There are three separate story lines following two characters and every chapter flips between those three ; and between time periods. It just becomes a bit of a mind bender to keep on top of what is going on and who each character is, and therefore forces you to have to write notes or remain thoroughly confused.
I think the author would have been better off keeping
Angela M
Different versions of a relationship and various possibilities in the lives of two people make for a thought provoking read. How do the choices we make change our entire future and what about fate? This is a well written and cleverly crafted debut that tells the story or rather stories of Eva, a writer and Jim, a painter over the course of decades . It's not just one narrative but three and while it held my interest because I liked these characters, at times I wanted it to move a little faster ...more
Elyse  Walters
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This terrific novel starts out the way many romantic stories go: Boy meets girl. Laura Barnett doesn't just tell us an ordinary romantic story. Instead, we get three stories. They are each distinct yet closely connected together....enjoyable and easy to follow.
Eve and Jim are shown in different scenarios. Many sides to them both. We see missed opportunities, and consequences for choices made.
( their personal and professional lives equally affected).

What unfolds through these
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
In 1958, Eva and Jim are nineteen year old students at Cambridge. Their paths will cross one day in October, and from there this book explores three different directions that their lives might take from that day. In Version 1, Jim invites Eva for a drink. They fall in love, she dumps her boyfriend David and they end up marrying. In Version 2, they don't get together and Eva will end up marrying David. In Version 3, they get together but then Eva will go back to David. From there, the book ...more
Charlotte May
"Footfalls echo in the memory. Down the passage which we did not take." T.S Eliot

3.5 stars!
Such an interesting premise - that the span of our lives could be entirely different from only 1 single event.
Eva and Jim meet for the first time at Cambridge when Eva falls from her bike. The choices both Jim and Eva make following this determine the rest of their lives.
At times slightly confusing - as following three separate versions of their life with the same characters was difficult, but it was
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is so good, I am writing my first Goodreads review EVER for it. (Full disclosure: I work for the publisher so I got to read this for work. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.)

It's easy to say a book is full of beautifully-written characters, and while that's true of The Versions of Us, the real beauty and skill is in how there are multiple beautifully-written versions of every character. As you read, you feel as though you're a silent onlooker on the road, in the pub, at the
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Eva: “You don’t really believe that anything is meant to happen, do you?”
Jim: “No. Maybe not. Who knows?”
“No regrets, Jim, all right?”
“No regrets, Eva. Not now. Not ever.”

(Nearly 4.5) In this impressively structured, elegantly written debut, Barnett chronicles the romantic lives of two Cambridge graduates through three-quarters of a century. By giving three options for how their connection might play out, she investigates “the dim, liminal place where one path is taken, and another missed.” She
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Dec 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I had to give up after reading 41% of this book. I actually read far beyond my initial impulse to stop. Though I liked the idea of having three versions, I found the way it was written to be difficult to follow. I was also not invested in any of the characters. Though I really wanted to like this book, it just wasn't happening for me.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The Versions of Us is the story of Eva and Jim told in triplicate. It centres on a moment, when they were in university, when Eva falls from her bike. In versions one and three Jim helps her up. In version two, he doesn't. From that point their lives branch off in three different directions and we are taken through all of the trials and tribulations of three versions of Jim and Eva.

Firstly, let me say that I loved the concept of this book. I loved the film "Sliding Doors" and I have a slight
Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
DNF at Page 208.

I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to like this book. Having it on my main TBR list for over 18 months, seeing a copy available from my local library got me extremely excited. But when I started to read through the pages, things started to become a struggle.

The plot follows two characters Eva and Jim who meet by chance in the grounds of Cambridge University. Both are first year students and still trying to find their way around. During this chance meeting, there are three different
Milly Paris
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Affairs, affairs everywhere. That's my overriding thought of this book. And God, did it make me angry.

Ok, down to the main review. The concept of this book is awesome. There are many moments recently where I've been struck by how even the smallest actions could have completely changed the course of my life, which is the main theme of this book and pretty much the reason I read it. Also, I'm a sucker for a romance. However, this was not a romance. Actually it was pretty much the opposite. To me,
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Jim, looking back at his lovely, handsome son….had felt so full of pride and love that for a moment he’d been unable to speak. And so he’d simply slung his arm around Dylan’s shoulders, thinking that he’d never expected things to turn out like this; but then he’d lived long enough to understand the futility of expecting anything at all”

Cambridge, 1958: trying to avoid a small white dog on the path, a young woman swerves her bicycle and ends up with a puncture. A young man notes her plight and
Thyago | MrsMargotBlog
It is a lightweight and easy to follow reading, my fear is to end up losing myself in different versions, but it did not ..
This book shows us how our decisions may affect the course of our lives and how our choices can change everything, but when it is destined to happen will happen even if the next decade or there 50 years.
In all versions, we see how our life is made of the priorities, in the first version we see a priority for the work which ultimately affect in any way the relationship of
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew I had to read (listen to) this book when I saw it was compared to the movie Sliding Doors. I loved that movie so much in college that I cut my hair into a pixie cut like Gwyneth Paltrow. Fortunately, this book worked out much better than my terrible pixie cut.

Beautifully written and complex, The Versions of Us gives us three different stories that center around one chance meeting, or not, between Jim and Eva while they are in college. It dives into the harsh realities of ambition,
A well written and cleverly constructed commercial novel that envisions three versions of the lives of the protagonists -- Eva and Jim. Unsentimental -- almost subversive in its assault on the architecture of romantic fiction.

Laura Barnett’s smart and engrossing debut, The Versions of Us is cleverly constructed and almost subversive in its assault on the architecture of romantic fiction. In the complex, yet easily followed dance of the three story lines, we get to know this Eva Edelstein and
Girl with her Head in a Book
So. The word on the street (and by street, I mean Waterstones) is that this book is this year's The Miniaturist. I did not read The Miniaturist. I did however decide to give this one a shot and am very glad I did - I already picked it as one of my Favourite Books of 2015. Described as Sliding Doors meets One Day, The Versions Of Us tracks two people throughout their lives, throughout three different trajectories depending on three slightly different turns of events. As students in 1958, Eva ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, uk, literary
The Versions of Us follows Eva and Jim from the age of nineteen from a chance meeting in Cambridge in 1958 until they are in their seventies in 2014. There are three different versions showing how the decisions they make as individuals change the paths of their lives. It also includes their extended families and how various decisions affect them.
I listened to this. It was extremely hard work. I wonder if it would have been easier to follow if I had read it. I found it very difficult to keep up
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett is due for publication on 4th June by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback and ebook formats: the publishers are calling it their biggest book of the year, the book the whole publishing industry wanted to buy. This week there was even the unprecedented news - before publication - that the television rights have been optioned by Trademark Films who are convinced it will make "a compelling television drama".

I very rarely read a book so far ahead of
David Reviews
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing

We never know how things will turn out and Laura Barnett reminds us all of this in the brilliant The Versions Of Us. The fickle finger of fate is pointed in the direction of Jim & Eva. There is a moment in time when in 1958 they meet as 18 year old students that depending on one fateful decision by Eva will determine the outcome of the rest of their lives. It is in this ‘what if’ moment that the author takes the opportunity to tell us 3 possible versions of a love story.

The book is
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm struggling with how to rate this, perhaps as 3.5 stars.
The ending of the story, all three of the stories, has left me with a lump in my throat, but I feel so bloody angry at some of the character's flaws, their selfishness, apathy, obliviousness or bad decisions. I don't understand why so many of the men in the book, and a few women, find it impossible to be faithful.
I really enjoyed the author's writing style, and I very nearly enjoyed all the versions of Jim and Eva, but I feel like there
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was attracted to this book after falling in love with "Sliding Doors" more than a decade ago. I'd also read the many favourable reviews and felt confident that it was a "safe bet".

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, it was beautifully written. However, I feel like the book lacks a climax. After such a promising start, the plot becomes rambling and I had to motivate myself to keep reading.

I love books that make you feel something, that make you laugh or cry. This one did neither.
Robert Blumenthal
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I will start this review by stating that The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver is one of my favorite modern day novels. This is significant for two reasons: 1) it reveals that I really enjoy books about multiple possible scenarios based on one incident or decision, and 2) I like Shriver's handling of the technique so much that it becomes a virtual standard for the genre. Let me say that The Versions of Us is about as good as it gets it writing about multiple scenarios. And let it be said ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an unexpected treasure! Following the same set of characters, this debut novel traces the three separate paths which might evolve, as dictated by seemingly inconsequential decisions. I had read reviews comparing it to the movie Sliding Doors, and wondered how the author could carry that off effectively! Indeed she did! The writing is luminous, as Laura Barnett conveys inevitable joys and sorrows erupting over a lifetime.

“ ….Eva tries again to dispel the image that has been spooling through
Daniel Adam Garwood
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cambridge, 1958. Eva turns her bicycle sharply to avoid a small dog. Her tyre meets with a rusty nail and tears. Jim witnesses the incident, offers to take her to his lodgings and repair the tyre. Eva accepts. Now, what if she didn’t swerve, and the dog jumped out of way, and Jim had no assistance to offer. And what if she swerved, fell off her bike, twisted her ankle and limped to the pub with Jim for a drink. Each scenario launches a different version of life for Eva and Jim.

Covering a period
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
**4.5 stars**
This book... hit me on a deeper level than I ever thought it could. With being able to practically read the whole life span of the characters in different versions, it made me relate this story to a family member that I had recently lost and loved so dearly, making it an incredibly hard, but wonderful story to read at the same time. The what if aspect is what really really sank in and hit me with this book. I don't really have the words to describe how this story made me felt. But
Elise Cripe
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
it took me awhile to get into this one. almost gave up but I am so glad I didn't. the final third was excellent and I'm always impressed with books that span such a long period of time. this was three lifetimes (think sliding doors) and the perspective of each was well done. it's a book that will stick with me.
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
A disappointing and hard work read.

On the plus side, while the "what if?" concept is not original, Laura Barnett has handled it with originality. I had expected a much more formulaic plot (after all, it starts with Boy Meets Girl) but actually the three versions of Jim and Eva twist in some quite unexpected ways. It was this, and the fact that Laura Barnett is a decent writer, with a nice ear for figurative language, that kept me reading.

I had three main problems with this book:

Firstly, as
Holly Bourne
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got this book cheap on Kindle and I think that ruined the reading experience somewhat. Though I really liked this book, it is PROPER hard to keep-up on each storyline and all the different characters - I almost felt like I had to keep notes! And, not being able to flick back as I was using an e-reader made it that much harder.

All in all though, an ambitious and thought-provoking book about fate, love and the difficulties of sustaining long-term relationships. Just do yourself a favour and get
Wiebke (1book1review)
I really liked the concept of this and how the information about the characters blended into the other stories. I think overall at the end the reader has a vision of the characters that is an emulgation of all three versions of them.
A side effect I experiecned was emotional exhaustion as it just triggered thinking about alternative versions of my life and also dealing with the stressful moments in the lives of the characters always came in threes, more or less, and that was exhausting as well at
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was a painful book to read. Right from the start, I knew it wouldn't be my cup of tea. The first half of the book was slightly interesting (albeit uselessly complicated), but the romance between Jim and Eva is one of the most insta-love romances I've ever read. We don't know why they fall in love. It's literally as follows:

"I had an accident with my bike."
"Oh, let me help you! And we should grab a coffee."

*Next chapter*

"So Jim and Eva went back
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everything I Know About Love
  • Us
  • Normal People
  • One Day
  • Régimódi történet
  • This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
  • The Lido
  • Conversations with Friends
  • Ordinary People
  • How to Stop Time
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  • Expectation
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
  • Judit... és az utóhang
  • How Do You Like Me Now?
  • Chinese Whispers
  • Can We Save the Catholic Church?
  • Sweet Sorrow
See similar books…
Laura Barnett is a writer, journalist and theatre critic. She has been on staff at the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, and is now a freelance arts journalist and features writer, working for the Guardian, the Observer and Time Out, as well as several other national newspapers and magazines.

Laura was born in 1982 in south London, where she now lives with her husband. She studied Spanish and
“he is old enough now to know happiness for what it is: brief and fleeting, not a state to strive for, to seek to live in, but to catch when it comes, and to hold on to for as long as you can.” 16 likes
“You walked into my life when I was nineteen years old. You were the only man I ever loved - the only man I ever hope to love. You took everything we did together, everything we were to each other, and scorched it to nothing: left it a cloud of ash.” 8 likes
More quotes…