‘MISTAKEN,’ BY KAREN BARNETT. Review of the 2013 historical novel from Abington Press. All review text © Rissi JC

Thanks to a conversation with Amber (my good blogging friend), this book went on my at-the-time next Amazon order. In my house, it stayed on my bookshelf unhappily gathering dust thanks to my busy review schedule until finally the 2014 Inspy Awards gave me all the reason in the world to read Karen Barnett’s debut novel.


STORY: Laurie Burke is barely able to keep her head above water in the prohibition era. Her brother is squarely in the middle of the booze running trade and her father is too busy wasting his life at the bottle leaving Laurie to hold together their fragile family. When she meets a newcomer to their small town and runs across a face from her brother’s past, Laurie immediately assumes that her brother’s childhood friend, Daniel Shepherd is up to no good leading her to carefully guard her heart against these two men, and fight all the harder to
protect those she loves.

Mistaken, by Karen Barnett | Book Review

‘MISTAKEN,’ BY KAREN BARNETT #bookarchives #HistoricalFiction Click To Tweet

Given how interesting I find this era, it’s no wonder that I take to this book so quickly. It’s one of the few historical novels that pulls me fully in, and one of the few books that makes me eager to find out what comes next. Not only is the historical detail in fabulous fashion, nothing overpowers the story (sometimes historical prose can easily slip into monotone description which for me is a turnoff) by dropping needless information. But yet there is always the flavor of the era. Additionally, this has some small of Jane Austen familiarity; particularly Pride & Prejudice. It certainly isn’t the setting that ties them together rather the mistaken “first impressions” that bring to mind the classic tale.

As we already established that Barnett does a smashing job of keeping the reader in mind of the 1920-setting, let’s look beyond this. One of the things I love is that this has an excellent moral compass, and slows down to teach us that what we perceive of a person at first glance isn’t always who their character is. The author explores this smartly, which endears the plot and characters all the more. I honestly cannot think of anything I didn’t like in the book. Definitely one of my favorite period novels, if you like this era, minus all the of the speakeasy’s or “wild” behavior, Mistaken is a definite must-read. It sweeps you into a romantic journey that’s about more than just the romance and is more than just some sleuthing. No doubt, Barnett’s debut has nary a whisper of any mistakes.  

About the Book:

Author: Karen Barnett
Source: Amazon Purchase
Publisher: Abington Press
Publication Date: 2013
Find the Review Elsewhere: Goodreads | Novel Crossing | WordPress
Add the Book: Goodreads
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Love this! Thank you for reviewing Mistaken. This book was such fun to write. It's funny how many people mention the Pride & Prejudice connection. I never planned that, but it may have been in the back of my mind because I've watched the movie so many times (Colin Firth version, of course). What's even more bizarre is that my working title of the book was First Impressions. I discovered later that First Impressions was the original title for Pride & Prejudice, as well. Strange!

    1. Thank *you* for visiting, Karen. It was my pleasure to review Mistaken and I'm super excited to read your next novel. :)

      Aw, how fun! Love getting a little behind-the-scenes idea of this book. That's cool about the Pride & Prejudice connections even if they weren't intentional. While writing this, I was thinking back to reading Mistaken and couldn't deny the similarities – which were awesome by the way. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Awesome! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it! (Thanks for the S/O, by the way!) Great review – and I completely concur with the wonderful handling of the historical details. :)


    1. Thanks for "insisting" I read it, Amber. :) It was a beautiful book and I cannot wait to see what Karen's next novel is like – promises to be a good one.

      When the historical details are right, they're brilliant and Karen hit everything just right.

  3. This is one that's on my list and I'll be reading and reviewing hopefully sometime this summer. Your review makes me want to read it even sooner. :)

    1. It's a delight, Tressa. Makes me excited to read Karen's new series next month – she's a talented author. :) Hope you enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

Optimized by Optimole