Having really enjoyed Paula Daly’s previous two books, Just What Kind of Mother are You? And Keep Your Friends Close I didn’t even read the synopsis of The Mistake I Made before requesting a copy so I have to admit I didn’t expect to find myself in a twisted version of ‘An Indecent Proposal’, but once there, despite a couple of early misgivings about how realistic this storyline was, I soon found myself hooked.
Briefly Roz Toovey has found herself in a financial mess, she works hard as a physiotherapist (which was Paula Daly’s career before she provided far more of us with a way to relax) but due to unforeseeable events and her ex-husband Winston’s poor money management, now finds herself with debts coming out of her earholes. The answer is then handed to her, a reasonably attractive wealthy man offers her a large enough sum of money to spend the night with him. Roz weighs up the fact that he is married, and to someone she has met, but that needs to be balanced against the fact that the money could help her and her nine-year old son George get back on their feet
There are many reasons why I love Paula Daly’s writing which is laced with humour and despite the issues which unfold you are never far from a character you’ve met in real life – here is an example from Roz’s practice manager, Wayne when she is in the middle of a session with a patient:
‘Did you call that insurance guy?’ Wayne asked.
‘What? No sorry. Slipped my mind again.’
Wayne sighed dramatically, rolled his eyes and spoke in the way one would when reprimanding a small child. ‘Get it sorted, Roz. Everyone else has had their assessments.’ He lowered his voice. ‘Without that assessment, you’re not fully protected. The clinic is not fully protected, unless –‘
I’ll do it. Promise. As soon as I’ve got a free minute.
One of the other reasons is the setting; all three of Paula Daly’s books have been set in the Lake District, this time in Hawkshead where Roz boards the ferry to travel backwards and forwards across Lake Windemere, we get a real feel of the place, not only the standard picturesque part but a feeling of community that such a setting engenders and for Roz her lifeline is her neighbours the fantastic Celia and Dennis who help her in the little ways that mean so much, especially with George who is running into trouble at school as Roz’s precarious money situation become too difficult to keep under wraps.
So even though I heaved a sigh at Roz’s naiveté and felt exasperated for her not having taken the most basic steps to right a situation that had been brewing (like a good northern cup of mashed tea) for some time, I soon bought into the storyline and as close to the edge of my seat as possible without falling off, as the drama unfolded in the most spectacular way. This book really does have a bit of everything with the balance of good and bad perfect, the timing of the next revelation impeccable keeping the tension maintained whilst being thoroughly entertained by the mundane on the very page:
I pulled a daisy from the grass and passed it to George. He rolled his eyes. Too girly.
‘What did you do at school today?’
‘Science,’ he said.
‘Did you do an experiment?’
‘We put white blocks into different bottles to see what would happen.’
‘Different bottles of what?’
He shrugged. ‘Milk and Coke and stuff.’
I remembered the experiment. It was used to demonstrate the rates of decay o teeth, the idea being kids would make wise choices when deciding what to drink. The thrust of it appeared to be lost on George.
If you haven’t tried this author you really should!
I’m delighted to have received my copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK ahead of the publication date of 27 August 2015 in return for my honest review.