Each day is filled with hundreds of tiny choices: Will you take this route to work, or that one? Stop for coffee, or continue directly to the office? Speak to the stranger in front of you in line, or keep to yourself? Most of these decisions seem insignificant. But you never know when a moment will change the course of your life.
In The Versions of Us, a #1 bestseller in the U.K., debut novelist Laura Barnett explores the paths that branch from a central moment in Eva Edelstein’s and Jim Taylor’s lives. The pair meet in 1950s Cambridge, when a dog runs in front of Eva’s bicycle. Jim steps in to help, and their next moves will determine the rest of their lives.
At the time of their meeting, Eva is an aspiring writer involved with an actor, David, who is considered the prize among the university’s theater crowd. Jim is the son of a renowned, deceased painter, and a talented artist himself, but he’s set on pursuing a career as an attorney.
Barnett follows Eva and Jim over decades and through three versions of what could be. In the first, they fall in love; in the second, they say hello and continue on; in the third, Eva feels a connection to Jim but opts to stay with David. On each of these paths, their lives will again intersect.
Barnett masterfully pulls the reader through these alternating tales. Each option is compelling and believable. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here: Regardless of the paths we choose, the people who are meant to be in our lives will find their way there.