The Mistake by Wendy James

mistake jamesThe Mistake by Wendy James
Michael Joseph/ Penguin, 2012

The Mistake is not a typical crime novel: it’s the story of a forty-something mother who is being investigated in the disappearance of her infant daughter who was born when she was teenager. Jodie claims she gave up the baby for an illegal adoption, but she is under suspicion of the infant’s murder by the media and possibly by the police. This is a character piece, and James is good at getting into the heads of Jodie and her family. It’s very well-done, and it doesn’t rely on crazy plot twists like some other psychological crime dramas I’ve read. (I’m thinking of Gone Girl, of course). It’s the novel of being put through the wringer by the media, and James says some interesting things about not only the media but about class and being a middle aged parent. What I most appreciated was the tone of the book: James is very respectful of her characters and doesn’t seem to be manipulating them. She gives everyone a detailed story. This is one of my favorite reads of the year.

Other reviews appear in The Newtown Review of Books, Book’d Out, and Mrs. Peabody Investigates.

I bought my copy of the book.

Coincidentally, this is my last book for the 2013 Global Reading Challenge. I hope finish my wrap-up post soon, but the end of the year is busy, snowy, and laden with cold germs so far.

13 thoughts on “The Mistake by Wendy James

  1. Good choice for ending up the Global Reading Challenge. I liked this book, too. Interesting about the impact of the crisis on the family members.
    Hope you all enjoy the holidays — and get in some good reading, too.

    • Thanks Kathy: hope you enjoy the end of the year too! These short days make me more inclined to read, but I’m looking forward to moving toward spring. As for The Mistake, I’m more impressed by it the longer I am away from it. Most family-in-crisis books are not as interesting as this one was to me, and I think it was because it was so unsensationalized. Is that a word?

  2. Rebecca – I thought this was an exceptionally well-done novel. It certainly shows clearly what happens when one becomes a social pariah. And it’s got a lot to say I think about class issues, about families, and a lot more. And I just love the Bridie Sullivan character.Glad you enjoyed it as much as you did.

    • Thanks, Margot, for bringing up the book in a blog post or two!. I’m going to have to find out how to get James’s other books: getting Australian books can be hit or miss, unfortunately.

      • Rebecca – I’ll be delighted to lend you Out of the Silence… if you’d like to read it. My spotlight of it is a href=””>right here.. If you’d like to read it, send me an email at margotkinberg(at)gmail(dot)com with your addy and I’ll be happy to send it along.

      • Thanks, Margot, for the review and the offer! I just saw the Kindle edition is fairly cheap so I’ll order it soon. It’s an icy snow day here, which would make for a great reading day, but we’re cookie-baking since school is cancelled ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This does sound interesting, and I do like character studies. I will put it on a list for the future. I know I keep saying this, but I like your short reviews and wish I could do that.

    • I’m not entirely sure why my reviews have been short lately, unless it’s my shortened attention span or my desire to rather get back to reading than writing reviews ๐Ÿ˜‰ I look forward to your review, Tracy.

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