I immediately fell in love with the premise of this. The blurb reads:
“Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives…”
and as The Times had called it “The beautiful love-child of David Nicholl’s One Day and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, and Elle Magazine declared on the front that it was “One Day meets Sliding Doors“, I was sold.
The story, as the blurb says, begins in 1958 (actually the pre-Part One/Prologue takes us back to 1938 and hints of this were peppered throughout the story, so it was nice to have this slice of history) and starts with Eva Edlestein having swerved to avoid the dog, and bumping into fellow student Jim Taylor. What then follows in the first story: ‘Version 1’, is quirkily dis/similar to ‘Version 2’ and again in ‘Version 3’ and although it took me a while, I did start not needing to flip back to check which ‘Version’ of Eva and Jim’s story I was reading.
It’s a great way of showcasing those ‘what if’ moments; and yes, hints of Sliding Doors are there throughout. In fact if three-way stories could be shown on the screen and not mess with your head then I’d definitely go and watch it but it might feel like stepping off a merry-go-round rather too quickly.
I warmed to each character, even in their various ‘Version’ guises and it was fascinating to see the different and yet the same roads they’d chosen to take and the reasons they’d decided to take them. The only thing that confused me was the names of all the various children – it was hard enough (not to the detriment of enjoyment) keeping up with the various ‘Versions’ let alone trying to remember whose children had been sired by which version of couples. In the end I kind of blanked them out and inserted: *child* which again didn’t detract from the overall warmth I felt for the characters or the storyline.
At the end I felt blissed-out and victorious: a) because I’d managed to read a virtually 3-threaded story and my head hadn’t exploded, and b) because it made me realise that by the time we’ve all reached the end of our own particular journeys, it’s the ‘feels’ you’re left with that count. Not the amount of pounds you’ve accrued or the address of the street where you live. It’s the times that have touched you, however briefly and however deeply, which matter.
9/10 Comforting, compelling and charming.