Sunday, 25 June 2017

#OneLittleMistake #EmmaCurtis #Review

One Little Mistake: The gripping eBook bestseller

One little lie. One little secret. One little mistake could destroy her world. 

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . . 

This was a very gripping read. Just as the title says, this novel is about one little mistake; one moment, one decision, one risk, one lie and from that, Vicky's life spirals out of control. One mistake turns in to another, a bigger lie, a web of deceit and cover ups, an uncovering of tensions that lurk beneath - hidden before and now rising to the surface.

It's debatable just how little Vicky's one mistake is. Popping out of the house for a few moments on a whim -to chase a dream, or possibly feed a minor obsession which has sprung from the need to 'fix' her home life or 'have it all' - Vicky leaves her baby Josh alone in the house so she can quickly view a new property that's just come on the market. She's only going around the corner. She's literally going to be ten minutes. It's the middle of the day. He's asleep in his cot. He'll sleep for at least an hour. He'll never know. No one will ever know. It'll be easier than taking him around to view the house later - later when a stream of other couples have viewed it and maybe put in an offer..... I'm sure there's not a mother out there who hasn't fleetingly had this same thought or been momentarily tormented by this choice. But it's only ever stayed a thought, an idea that's quickly dismissed. A choice that isn't actually a choice. 

But what happens if you do actually act on this idea? 

One little mistake. The worst mistake of Vicky's life. When she returns home she disturbs a man in the middle of a burglary. He has Josh. After a fight and a desperate attempt to save Josh, the man pushes his way past Vicky and leaves - Vicky has saved Josh but she also knows her 'little mistake' has cost her the happiness, safety and security of her family. Her first thoughts when she sees Amber, her best friend, appearing at the house to catch enough of the scene to realise exactly what has happened, reveal that Vicky knows just what this mistake has cost her:

"My relief at seeing her is tempered by shame. I hold her gaze and plead silently with her. Please don't judge me." 

But surely Amber, her best friend, is the best person to have seen what she has seen? Surely her best friend will help protect her from the police, her husband, any damaging repercussions? If any one is going to be part of the secret and make sure it becomes a mistake quickly buried in the past and forgotten about, if anyone has to know what she did, surely it should be her best friend who she can trust, rely on, depend on and lean on? Surely.......

Even though Josh is safe, I felt very conflicted. And judgmental. Perhaps this conflict develops further because of the way the girls then concoct a story to protect Vicky and hide the truth. Vicky made an 'impulsive decision' and she can't deny the ramifications. Even when she acknowledges her 'compulsive behaviour' and explains the pressure she's been under as a mother with a young, demanding family, I found that even though I can relate to these feelings, I couldn't really sympathise with her.  And this intrigued me. Curtis has given me a protagonist with whom I can't really claim to 'like' but I wanted to read on to see how the situation might unfold. This is a situation I could relate to, could see how it happened and Curtis has tapped into that great question of "what if?" 

Curtis then brings in the point of view of Amber. At the beginning I found the switching between Amber's third person narrative and Vicky's first person narrative a little confusing as the switches are not separated by chapters or markings, but introducing her voice early on helps to really raise the tension and the stakes once the incident of the opening chapters has taken place. Amber's voice offers not only a way of challenging Vicky but also sheds a different light on her character and gives Curtis a chance to show us more about what is going on. 

Amber's situation is very different from Vicky's. She has no children and therefore her reaction to Vicky's decisions is different. She would "never leave a child on its own". From the outset the reader realises that Amber presents one side of herself to Vicky  - generally as a supportive, kind, caring friend - yet internally she feels very differently towards her. This is incredibly intriguing as it makes the whole situation more vulnerable and introduces an exciting sense of threat. 

"Vicky is so careless of other people's feelings. If she places so little value on her husband, then she doesn't deserve him. Amber has always fancied him but she's never taken it seriously. They have an undeniable connection, but she wouldn't go there. She's not like that." 

As well as a second point of view, Curtis also brings in a second timeline and chapters from 1992 start to interject themselves in between the main present day story. Like Amber's narrative thread, for quite a while I was unsure how this second storyline was connected to the main plot but rest assured, we are in very capable hands. Curtis weaves a complex narrative that takes several characters, scenarios and complications in order to really explore this one idea of this 'one little mistake'. The joy of this novel is its length. At nearly 450 pages, Curtis is able to really develop both her key characters, introduce a multilayered plot and create emotional responses, excitement, drama, tension and suspense which will keep you reading until the very last page. 

To heighten the tension, Curtis brings in newspaper reports and radio shows which are commenting on a case of another mother who left her child alone. This continually haunts Vicky with the fact that she has lied to her whole family but also forces her to confront the enormity of what she did and the seriousness of that moment of compulsiveness. As the radio presenter says, "What parent hasn't left a child asleep in their car while they've dashed into the shops?" 

But "One Little Mistake" is about more than that. Yes, a huge part of the novel is a thought provoking presentation of what happens when you 'cross the line' and the ramifications of lying and keeping secrets. But Vicky is not the only one keeping secrets. Amber's behaviour becomes more and more threatening and disturbing with each chapter until Curtis cleverly uses Vicky's mistake to reveal how previous mistakes, conflicts, unequal relationships and incidents that we face in our past can have such an effect on our future. This novel becomes more than just a debate on parenting but much more about jealousy, revenge, friendship, loyalty and needs. It becomes a novel that becomes more psychological, dark, compelling and unnerving. 

I made lots of notes when I was reading this novel. There were lots of passages I liked because they raised questions about not only the obvious themes of motherhood, friendship and love but also a deeper layer of questions about what we need and what we want, perception and really, competition, jealousy and whether friendships are ever equal. I liked that this novel challenged me in that I wasn't really sure how to feel about the characters and these feelings changed throughout the novel. I liked that there was a lot going on and that there was nothing judgemental in Curtis's writing. There is no moral high ground, no underlying message, it is just a great story about two women, two mothers and one little mistake. 

I would recommend this book. It would make a great book club read. It is a novel that has stayed with me and even a week later I am still thinking about the characters who still feel very vivid in my mind. I still feel a shudder at the dramatic climax of the novel. It was one of those books when you're desperate to get to the end and find out what's happened but equally desperate not to get to the end and have to leave the story behind! 

One Little Mistake is published by Black Swan on 15th June 2017. 




BIBLIOMANIAC'S BOOK CLUB: QUESTIONS 

There are some Book Club questions in the back of the paperback already but here are a few I would add or use if I was fortunate enough to be reading this as part of my book club. 

- Is there ever justification for leaving a child? How do you think the author wants us to react towards Vicky at the beginning of the novel?

- Who do you have more sympathy for during the novel - Vicky or Amber? Whose motivations are easier to understand?

- Is it the actual mistake or is it who knows about the mistake that generates the disaster and drama in the novel? How would things have been different if Amber had not arrived at the house moments after Vicky?

- Is Katya a reliable narrator?

 - Amber says "Vicky needs to know that actions produce consequences." Does she need to be shown this? Is Amber right?

 - Vicky and Amber are best friends. What do you think this novel says about friendship? Is friendship ever equal and transparent?

 - What is your perception of social services and child protection from this novel?

- Tom says to Vicky that they've "both made mistakes." What do you think of this statement?

 - Could Vicky have healed Amber?

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

No comments:

Post a Comment