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3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
'I had been mistaken for him so many times that when he died it was as if part of myself had died too.'

Kevin Thunder grew up with a double – a boy so uncannily like him that they were mistaken for each other at every turn. As children in 1960s Dublin, one lived next to Bram Stoker’s house, haunted by an imagined Dracula, the other in the more refined spaces of Palmerston P
391 pages
Published February 4th 2012 by Soft Skull Press (first published 2011)
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David Butler
Jan 23, 2017 David Butler rated it really liked it
My review of Mistaken, published in The Stinging Fly:

When Neil Jordan’s collection Night in Tunisia was published thirty-five years ago, Sean O’Faolain wrote: ‘if he keeps and develops his primal gifts… he will become an outstanding writer.’ With the publication of his fifth novel, Mistaken, it’s clear that Jordan has indeed become the outstanding writer O’Faolain foresaw. Formally a first-person remembrance addressed to a female ‘you’, the new novel adopts the narrative strategy of ‘A Love’, th
Kevin Thunder is a young boy, growing up on the Northside of Dublin next door to Bram Stoker’s house, when he discovers he has a double. A double with whom he doesn’t only share his looks but it seems also a certain smell and maybe even his soul.
And before long he starts taking advantage of this resemblance especially when it comes to girls.
When Kevin and his double, Gerald Spain, meet up, the exchanging identities for various purposes is at first almost a game, something to make their lives ea
Mar 19, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
Neil Jordan is a man of many talents - director of fantastic films such as The Crying Game and Mona Lisa as well as a successful novelist. I really enjoyed Shade, his last novel published in 2005 so I'd been eagerly anticipating the appearance of Mistaken.

Mistaken begins with the funeral of Gerald Spain, once a successful author, who died suddenly in his mid fifties. Our narrator, Kevin Thunder, was frequently mistaken for Gerald in his younger days, given their strong ressemblance. Physically
Gerard Cappa
Jun 15, 2012 Gerard Cappa rated it it was amazing
Mistaken might have been classified under suspense/thriller/mystery, but the, now customary, excellence of Jordan's writing probably elevates it out of 'genre' writing. Not a heart pounding thriller, but a smouldering ember of unease that seeps out of the pages.
Not an easy read, but the best things in life seldom are.
Sid Nuncius
Oct 09, 2015 Sid Nuncius rated it really liked it
After finding the first hundred pages hard going in places I enjoyed this book very much. It is a poetic, meditative account of growing up and ageing, the choices we make and those that are made for us and how things might have turned out if either had been different. The book's central idea of the narrator and his double often being mistaken for each other is well developed and ingeniously used to illustrate what Jordan is trying to say about how lives develop, and the later part of the book ha ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Dem rated it liked it
A novel about two Irish boys who bear a physical resemblance to each other. They grow up in Dublin of the 1960s and from there the story goes on its journey.
I liked this book and the story but found the first 100 pages tedious and dark,the book did pick up pace in the second half and is quite enjoyable.
Randal White
Mar 14, 2017 Randal White rated it really liked it
This is more of a four and a half star rating. This is the second of Jordan's books I've read (the Drowned Detective being the first) and he is rapidly becoming my favourite writer. His writing is beautiful. For me, he is able to bring literary quality writing to really interesting plots. I can hardly wait to read the next one.
Dec 19, 2012 Adrian rated it really liked it

They say everyone has a double in the world. Even if it’s from behind, we’ve often heard stories of people running up to total strangers, tapping them on the shoulder and greeting them like long lost friends. Only for the stranger to turn around and leave the greeter stumped and embarrassed when they realise they’re facing a total stranger. I’ve done it myself, with some very embarrassing consequences. This is the premise for Irish Film director Neil Jordan’s fifth book “Mistaken”.

Kevin Thunder
Andrew Francis
Sep 03, 2013 Andrew Francis rated it really liked it
Neil Jordan is probably best known for his films but I prefer his work as a novelist. His writing is not to everyone’s taste, some would say that his interweaved plot lines and symbology are contrivances but I really like them; real life is generally quite amorphous and not particularly interesting, when I read a novel I want structure and I want drama. It could be likened to the painting of the pre-Raphaelites, vivid colours, plenty of contrast and considerable detail, often with naturalistic a ...more
Eileen Horgan
Feb 11, 2015 Eileen Horgan rated it it was ok
A story about two very different teenage boys, Kevin Thunder and Gerald Spain, who live in Dublin and look alike.
Kevin is our narrator, he has been born on the 'Northside' of the river Liffey and following a series of events where bus conductors, girls and other various people accuse him of wrongdoings, he realises he has a double and eventually spots him.
Kevin's parents lead a modest life while Gerald has had a more prosperous upbringing enjoying the privilege of private Jesuit education in B
Jan 14, 2013 Jan rated it liked it
I found the first half of this book a real struggle and only persevered after reading some reviews which said that after the first hundred pages it gets easier and it does. I had to keep reminding myself that it is set in the second half of the 20th century as it has a distinct gothic feel to it, partly due to the style of the writing and also to the continual references to Dracula and the fact that the main character grew up in the house next to Bram Stokers childhood home. It is an insight int ...more
Jim Leckband
Mar 06, 2016 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ulysses meets The Double meets Strangers on a Train. Neil Jordan should not be surprised at that glib intro since the movie director has probably heard so many of these "meets" that his writer's sensibility has a very tough hide by now. But even cliches have an element of truth. "Mistaken" revels in Dublin like Ulysses as it follows the character through all the societal and physical levels of the fair city. "Mistaken" is a doubles novel at its very core. Finally, there is a very creepy Patricia ...more
Mistaken is 300-page letter to Emily, the daughter of a friend. Kevin Thunder begins his letter after meeting Emily at her father’s funeral and he proceeds to write the story he is unable to tell her in words. Kevin met Emily’s father, Gerald Spain, by reputation long before they met in person. For Gerald was his doppelganger in the small city of Dublin. A range of cases of mistaken identity lead Kevin to realise that there is another young Dubliner leading his life, with an edge. Growing up in ...more
May 18, 2012 DeAnne rated it liked it
Shelves: diverse-reads
This was a book that was hard to read in a single sitting. The story is about 2 Dublin boys, one wealthy and one middle class. For their entire lives, they have been mistaken for one another, even though they travel in different circles. They find each other and purposefully step into each other's lives when it suits them, accidently involving themselves in a murder along the way. The story begins at the funeral of one of the men, with the wife and daughter commenting on how similar this strange ...more
Eamon Doody
Apr 25, 2012 Eamon Doody rated it really liked it
A clever book. Themes include identity, family, class and the sorrow of loss.

As might be expected from movie director Jordan the book reads like a film - and one can easily imagine the cuts being made between the two stories illustrating the lives of these dopplegangers born on different sides of the tracks.

I first lived in Dublin long after the period in which this novel starts but the city - and its north/south poorer/richer divisions still hold a lot of sway. The city of Dublin does feature
Apr 11, 2013 Kaisa rated it liked it
Luin kirjan suomenkielisen käännöksen: Ilmetty. Tarina kertoo dublinilaisesta Kevin-pojasta, jolle vähitellen valkenee että kaupungin katuja kulkee joku toinen, joka näyttää aivan häneltä ja johon hänet jatkuvasti sekoitetaan. Vähitellen Kevinin ja kaksoisolennon elämät kietoutuvat yhteen ja sekoittuvat yhä tiiviimmin.

Kirja oli tietyiltä osin todella hyvä, mutta paljon siitä jäi myös uupumaan. Juonen idea on hieno ja omalaatuinen, mutta toteutus jää vähän vajavaiseksi. Loppuratkaisu onnistui yll
May 08, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb...a story of how people can feel disconnected throughout their lives and long for being connected...

As the story unfolds, you certainly feel connected to Kevin as he is the narrator -- and Gerald is just a character.

But in the end, it is Gerald with whom you feel the greater connection and who becomes the more sympathetic figure.

I feel Mr. Jordan was particularly successful in painting episodes that were genuine and kept the wires connected throughout the story...

Will definitely read more
Ronan Mcdonnell
Apr 05, 2012 Ronan Mcdonnell rated it really liked it
A twisting, slow burning story about two men who are mistaken for each other throughout their lives. They never become close, but eventually are acquainted to some degree, their ties getting closer tangentially as they age. This is also the story of the city they share and which divides them.

It is a melancholy rumination on a city, a whole way of living that has disappeared. The emotional investment the reader makes in the characters is wearying, the level of the writing being so laden with empa
Feb 24, 2011 MyBookAffair rated it it was ok
A story about a couple of look-a-likes who get mistaken for one another and step in and out of each others lives... a good idea? The premise has promise, but something in the delivery of the story gets in the way. The prose style is very image-driven; reading like a series of blurred images, not unlike an impressionist painting, all building to create an overall sense of the relationship between the two main characters, Kevin Thunder and Gerald Spain.

To read my full review, please visit my blog
Nov 07, 2011 Peter rated it it was amazing
A very, very well written book. (They seem to be getting rarer. Barley a typo in it.)

Mistaken was a slight twist on the 'My Miserable Irish Childhood" book / genre that has rather plagued my bookshelves over the years.

The story follows two lookalike boys as they grow into men. INevitably their lives cross and intertwine as they are mistaken for each other. They meet and learn to take advantage of their similarities with varying results. It was one of those funny/sad/tragic/dark/cheerful books t
May 01, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
overall, this was an entertaining book to read but i got a bit bored while doing so. i wanted there to be more developed about the connection between kevin & gerald, or kevin & gerald's daughter, or anything. there were a lot of different parts to the plot that were never explored deep enough for my liking and things were left semi-resolved. and the bits about the vampire were weird and unnecessary. it was a bit slow to start and then just seemed to be over.
Feb 29, 2012 Joan rated it liked it
I thought this was an interesting book which described the class distinctions in Dublin, contained some surprising plot twists and had thoughtful insights into the process of growing up. That said, it was very slow moving until that last quarter of the novel and many of the characters were left unsatisfyingly under-developed...including the narrator. Also, the device of telling the story to "you" was distracting and did little to serve the narrative. Worth reading but tough to get through.
Rachael Murphy
Jun 26, 2015 Rachael Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I initially added this book on Goodreads I saw that the reviews weren't great but I persisted. I am glad I did, I have really enjoyed it. It is slight story but it is captivating. The characters are both loveable and unlikeable at the same time, which makes them more human.
There is something in the melancholy way the events are described that really captured me. The book is very rooted in Ireland, in Dublin specifically and maybe that put some people off but I thought it was great.
Jun 12, 2014 Maureen rated it it was ok
This literary book is beautifully written if painfully sad. Perhaps this is every fiction by an Irish writer. I don't know. All I know is that I love Jordan's The Crying Game which is in my top ten film list of all time, but it took me two months to read this book. It didn't speak and sing to me so much as bog me down in misery. The confusing use of second person for alternate chapters didn't help. Not for me.

2.5 stars
Jan 02, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Meh. Felt like it spent 120 pages building in infinitesimal increments, then 50 pages idling, then the remainder of the book dribbling out like sands from a broken hour glass.

Predictably, I might add. And I so hate 2nd person POV (just read 2 in a row with this peculiar perspective) and I will definitely ensure that I never read another book told in that way again.

Martin McGovern
Poor enough novel I thought. Good idea, but nothing happened. I got bored with the repitition, maybe that was a literary device like Beckett, and I missed it, but it didn't work for me. Dreary and boring. And the geographical inaccuracies really got on my nerves. I live in Dublin and some of the routes he takes just don't make any sense, ah well, not one for me.
Aug 22, 2012 Gerri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2013 Mintti rated it it was ok
Suomeksi Ilmetty. Joo, nyt olen vähän sitä mieltä että suutari pysyköön lestissään. Tykkään Jordanin leffoista, ja niissä hän tuntuukin olevan enemmän omalla kentällään kuin näissä kirjoissa. Tarina oli mielenkiintoinen ja varmasti siitä tulisi hyvä leffa, mutta kirjoitus oli raskassoutuista ja sekavaa ja alku oli hankala. Ei oikein irronnut nyt kyllä Jordanilta.
Siobhan Fallon
Jul 26, 2012 Siobhan Fallon rated it really liked it
Only about a third of the way through, finding it a bit moody and atmospheric, but the story is compelling and keeps me reading. Two boys from different suburbs of Dublin (and different classes) are continually mistaken for one another, which creates this feeling of intimacy between them, and weaves their very different lives together.
Apr 22, 2012 Terry rated it liked it
This is the first novel I’ve read by Neil Jordan, and based on his movies, in particular “The Crying Game,” I had high hopes. The novel is atmospheric; there’s pretty good character development; but it read like a slow burn that just fizzled out instead of coming to a blazing conclusion. The twin genre is pretty much overdone anyway; there was nothing new here.
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Neil Jordan is an Irish novelist and film director.
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“I had made a decision, although I hardly knew it yet. It's often that way with decisions, they're made in some hidden part of us and the awareness secretes itself slowly into that conscious part of us that imagines it decides.” 24 likes
“I walked with them, as crowds have that effect on me, I want to do what they do, to journey towards some point of revelation, which of course never comes” 4 likes
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