The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly

Review published on November 5, 2017.

At the beginning of this novel, Roz Toovey is at a low ebb. Her business has gone to the wall, she is crippled by rising debt, and her young son is soon to learn what bailiffs do for a living, but into this comes a stranger, Scott, with an indecent proposal.

So far, so Hollywood. Roz is a single mother, a sister, a friend, and a physiotherapist, used to dealing with living bodies, helping people to feel better. Told in the first person, we see Roz’s struggles with her business as things begin to tighten, the economic climate causing more distress, her once comfortable home becoming something of a shrine to her past. Her son does not understand what is happening, and as things take unexpected turns, we feel the full consequences of Roz’s decision, as Scott becomes increasingly involved in her life, his one-off deal not what it appears to be.

Set in Cumbria, and the Hawkshead region in particular, the book is very well grounded in fact and reality, although the story seems a lot more suited to a cliched metropolitan area, whilst the characters are all well drawn, as a police investigation and insurance investigation push Roz’s life in unexpected directions, but which all make thematic and logical sense.

The book is a fast read, although at more than four hundred pages it could have done with a tighter edit. At times it seems a little convoluted, with characters bought in for expositional rather than narrative purposes, but the desperate straits that Roz finds herself in, the monumental mistake she made in accepting Scott’s money for an easy way out of debt, and the impact that decision has over the novel’s secondary characters are very well thought out, and the amount of research that by necessity has to hold up a story like this is very impressive indeed.

Ben Macnair 3/3

The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly
Corgi 9780552171304 pbk Mar 2016

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