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The Versions of Us  By  cover art

The Versions of Us

By: Laura Barnett
Narrated by: Clare Corbett,Daniel Weyman
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Publisher's Summary

In one moment, two lives will be changed forever...and forever...and forever.

The one thing that's certain is that they met on a Cambridge street by chance and felt a connection that would last a lifetime. But as for what happened next...

They fell wildly in love or went their separate ways. They kissed or they thought better of it. They married soon after or were together for a few weeks before splitting up. They grew distracted and disappointed with their daily lives together or found solace together only after hard years spent apart.

With The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett has created a world as magical and affecting as those that captivated listeners in One Day and Life After Life. It is a tale of possibilities and consequences that rings across the shifting decades, from the '50s, the '60s, and the '70s and on to the present, showing how even the smallest choices can define the courses of our lives.

©2015 Laura Barnett (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Versions of Us

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too many parallel stories

The book starts with an interesting idea, (2) characters who meet and then live out (3) separate scenarios in which they connect, or not, over (50) years. But it is a lot of work to keep track of the diverging plots and the multiple secondary characters. The narrator's were good, but couldn't quite give the story the emotional impact it seemed to be reaching for.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

1 too many "versions" to keep straight...

There are 3 different "versions" to this story of Jim and Eva, and while each version is engaging and entertaining, I found it exceptionally difficult to keep each of the three versions straight from the other. I wonder if perhaps the audiobook format actually makes this MORE difficult than it would be when reading the actually book. While it was certainly an ambitious attempt, I think 2 versions might have been the maximum.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Worth sticking with

I really enjoyed listening to this novel. I was intrigued by the format, three different outcomes, and was not disappointed. At first it was difficult to follow. You really do get three different scenarios with the same characters but making different decisions leading to different lives of the two main characters. As the stories progressed, though, it was easier to follow, perhaps because you become more acquainted with the three story lines. I think for anyone who ever wondered "if I had not followed this path what would my life be like now?" this book is a fulfillment of that fantasy. I also liked the way the author tied it all together towards the end for both of the main characters with the insight that every decision we make during our lives has an impact on our future.

5 people found this helpful

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  • A.
  • 05-27-16

Thought-provoking and romantic.

This is the kind of novel I, myself, would like to write -- if only I had a modicum of Ms. Barnett's talent. The individual "versions" are masterfully crafted, with each one coming alive in its own right. Together, they are a beautiful study of what-ifs and could-have-beens. I did not experience the level of confusion over the versions that some other reviewers have mentioned (and which almost kept me from purchasing the book). The narrators are excellent, to boot!

5 people found this helpful

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Version - Re-read

I was gardening during the first couple chapters and was immediately intrigued by their chance meeting and love story. Then all of a sudden there was a 3rd version! Wait what? I suggest paying attention with memorizing intent during the first set of versions or you’ll be slightly confused from there on afterwards. I just kept plugging along finally at chapter 20 I started all over again! Well worth it.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well worth the effort.

Listening to The Versions of Us took a bit more effort than the usual fictional book. It was like Maybe in Another Life in that it was about how person’s life would be had they made a different choice at a key juncture in their life. It was unlike Maybe in Another Life because there were three concurrent story lines instead of two to try to keep track of. You would think one more story line would not be that much harder to follow but it actually made my brain hurt at times as I tried to figure out what the plot was in the particular version playing. I think it would’ve been easier to digest as a paper book, and perhaps I should’ve made notes, but I was on the go as I listened and this was not an option.

The chapters were each introduced by its version - 1, 2 or 3. As each chapter started I wracked my brain trying to pick up clues in the narrative to what led to the particular story at that point. I really had to think hard at times and sometimes was confused well into a chapter, even in the later chapters. Most of the peripheral characters remained the same through the book but at times new characters were introduced (as families grew over time) in one version and not the other versions which made the book even more complicated.

The story’s main characters are Eva and Jim and the novel starts with their chance meeting on a bike path outside of Cambridge University in 1958. Eva has a boyfriend, David, at this time and he is also an important recurring character throughout the book. From that initial meeting between Jim and Eva the three versions of their lives take root. The novel covers their lives from their teens all the way to their 70s, in current times.

Despite my tone in this review up until this point I actually really liked this book. The writing was excellent, the story lines were not equally interesting but all were intricate and well-paced, and there was always drama. As I’ve said before, I’m fascinated with these “what if” novels. I think we all have moments in life where we make a pivotal decision which sets our future path, and we wonder after the fact what if we would’ve made a different choice. What would my life be like then? Other things I liked about this novel were detailed settings, and really well fleshed out characters. The narration was performed very well by a Clare Corbett and Daniel Weyman who alternated chapters and did a nice job with all the voices, especially the kids. Maybe my favorite thing about the book was how melancholy the tone was throughout. The happy and sad times in Jim and Eva's life were realistically painted and there were many emotional and moving scenes.

I would definitely recommend this book in either format but I think it would be much easier to follow with the paper version, especially if you keep a note which version each chapter is set in. This is a very ambitious work with an interesting premise and I think Laura Barnett really pulled it off.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ck
  • 01-05-17

Thought provoking book

Although this story had no point of great anticipation, it was a tale with many interesting corners. Listening was a little like exploring a large, old house still holding the remnants of the lives lived there. It often left me with the sense of wonder about the way life tumbles along with so much randomness and yet it retains some aspects are that are constant, and wouldn't change regardless of the paths we choose to take.

1 person found this helpful

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3.5 Stars

I enjoy a sliding-doors type story and I did like this one, but it took some extra concentration to follow the storylines. Instead of two concurrent storylines in the typical "sliding-doors" type story, there were three in this one. Each one started similarly but had a moment of divergence that sent the two main characters in different directions. The diverging lives met different spouses and had different children, only adding extra characters to remember in each version. I actually wrote a simple cheat sheet for myself that differentiated each of the three narratives. If needed, a quick look at my note at the beginning of each version kept me on track.

Overall, this book was kind of sad. It spanned this couple's lives from young adulthood until their 70's, with all of their good, bad, and questionable decisions that changed each narrative dramatically. In some versions, I loved the characters and in others, I was frustrated with some of their choices and outcomes. By the end, there was an ongoing theme that came to a conclusion, but I ultimately felt a sense of melancholy. Some narratives were more fulfilling than others, but it was hard to overlook the version(s) that were more frustrating since none of them was the true version. They were simply the outcome of different choices. I'm okay without the typical romance-genre happy ever after and ultimately, this book was creative and entertaining. Not a romance, but more a love story.

The audio narration was stellar. Combined with the intriguing story and I was a happy listener.

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Excellent performance!

This is an interesting and very well-written tale. It is an intriguing concept in a parallel universe sort of way. However, it got confusing at times. I think it may work better in hard copy so the reader could refer back to see who’s who. The narrators were superb.

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Beautiful exploration of the ways life can unfold

A lovely and touching exploration of two lives, and the love shared between them. The story branches in three different directions from the initial meeting of Eva and Jim. These three versions of the life they have together (or separately at some points) are explored in depth at certain milestones in their lifetimes. In each version you can feel the faint echo of the other versions, the roads not taken and the missed opportunities. It is a love story, a tale of heart break, of betrayal, of lost love rekindled, and of missed opportunities all woven among each other in a series of snapshots showing parallel universes that seem to diverge further and further from each other only to end at a point that seems connected and universal, in it's way, across the versions.