Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

A literary version of Sliding Doors is the quickest way to sum this one up. But where Sliding Doors gave the impression of hope and happiness I found The Versions of Us to be filled with sadness and grief. The overall message seemed to be love never lasts, even if you are meant to be together it will end in sadness, you hurt the ones you love and even to some extent have a better career when you are apart. Whilst in the most basic sense - we all die - Barnett is correct I found it depressing to read.

I think I fell out with the book (well Jim and therefore the book) in version 1 when he cheated on Eva. I appreciate that a version of them doing nothing but living happily ever after would be boring however I was shocked when I read it and it really spoilt the book for me.

My favourite version was number 2. I thought everyone would have a favourite but most in the group didn't which surprised me. Whereas I didn't like the book for the overall message, most stumbled on the versions and keeping track of them all. Two people commented on how they would have liked to have gone back and just read all of version 1 then all of version 2 then 3 and it would be interesting to see if this improved their overall reading experience. I did slightly lose track in the middle but found trying to read each time period in one sitting, for example all of 1970 helped.

It had some great supporting characters however the number of names at times became confusing especially given that the children in the various versions had different names. I see why this was done, various things influence us over our lives and the names I would have for my children when I was 20 are not the names my children ended up with. Still the group struggled with the large amount of characters dotted about.

I thought at times the book was very cliched. The tormented artist, the OTT actor, the writer with writers block, the commune and one member commented if was all very Oxbridge darling.

Following on from my dislike of Jim, I thought he was a very weak person, terrible to his mother who although was testing he seemed to leave behind and never look back. I loved Sinclair by the way, yet there was another example of love ending unhappily.

The group's scores ranged between 5-9 with the average being 7. Next book is In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

Question of the month - what book is your favourite happily ever after?

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Annabel by Kathleen Winter #inbetweeny

Time for another quick inbetweeny book before our book of the month The Versions of Us. Annabel was given to me by my auntie who had really enjoyed it. Being about a hermaphrodite it was quite topical (I'm thinking about the whole Caitlyn Jenner transgender thing which I appreciate is a totally different issue but still made me think of it) despite it being released nearly 6 years ago.

Initially it was very interesting and I liked the slow paced descriptive tone. I really enjoyed the parts about Labrador and could have read more about it.

I felt the suffering of Jacinta and even Treadway and liked the supporting characters however I feel like the book started to taper off when Wayne decided to leave Labrador. It felt like wasted pages.

I also didn't get Wally and why she didn't speak to Wayne but then seemingly welcomed him with open arms years later. Tomasina was also a funny one - meddling then taking off to ramble before meddling again. My affection for Treadway grew as the book went on but I felt put out slightly at how everyone kind of got a happy ending. Even Jacinta who was rescued from a sea of depression by a hotdog and a take away coffee. The baddies exited without any comeuppance and overall I felt like what got off to a good start became a bit wishy washy.

Potential but didn't fulfil. Won't be staying on the shelf!