What I've Been Reading Recently

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett*
Cambridge, 1958. Eva and Jim meet and fall in love. Or perhaps they meet but Eva chooses to stay with her boyfriend, David. Or perhaps they don't meet at all. In this gorgeous book, all three possibilities play out, side by side, each bringing over fifty years of unique joys, sorrows, passions and heartbreaks. The alternate realities thing may have been done before but this book goes beyond the standard "one true love" clich├ęs to explore whether there is really one right choice, one right person or one right path in life. It was surprisingly easy to keep track of the three separate story lines and I cared deeply about how each one turned out - I may have even been a little teary once or twice. Highly recommended.

Motherland by Jo McMillan*
It's the late 70s and Jess and her mother are communists in a Tory town in England. Over the course of a few summers in East Berlin, they each form connections to Germany and to German friends... but at what cost? This is a convincing coming of age set to an interesting backdrop; it felt a little slow to me but it's an unusual enough story that I did want to find out how it was all going to end.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green*
Cat is an alcoholic whose drinking has messed up her relationship with her long lost family and driven her husband away. I (rightly or wrongly) associated Jane Green with lightweight romance so I wasn't expecting painfully real first person accounts of excessive drinking, terrible decisions and unsuccessful attempts at going sober - Cat is a very flawed person and there is no shying away from her mistakes. While that part of the book had real emotional depth, the family-drama-messy-love-life elements were flimsier - the over all book felt a little disjointed to me as a result; part beach read, part gritty confessional. That said, I did enjoy it and it has left me itching for a holiday in Nantucket.

*Provided by the publisher or agent for review.
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