Skip to Main Content

Book Club Kits: The Wrong Mother

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

Cover Image

Check Availability

To request this kit, click link above.

Alamance County Public Libraries

Alamance County Public Libraries provide free and open access to lifelong learning, resources for everyday living, and reading for pleasure in a welcoming environment.  Our collections, services and programs enhance the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Contact the Library webmaster.

Alamance County Public Libraries operates as a Department of Alamance County Government.  Visit the Alamance County Website at

Book Summary

Sally Thorning is watching the news with her husband when she hears a name she never thought she’d hear again: Mark Bretherick.

It’s a name she ought not to recognise. Last year, a work trip Sally had planned was cancelled at the last minute. Desperate for a break from her busy life juggling her job and a young family, Sally didn’t tell her husband that the trip had fallen through. Instead, she treated herself to a secret holiday in a remote hotel. All she wanted was a bit of peace – some time to herself – but it didn’t work out that way. Because Sally met a man – Mark Bretherick.

All the details are the same: where he lives, his job, his wife Geraldine and daughter Lucy. Except that the photograph on the news is of a man Sally has never seen before. And Geraldine and Lucy Bretherick are both dead…

Discussion Questions

  • Why is the novel called The Wrong Mother? Does the title refer to a specific character in the book?

  • Is Sally a sympathetic character? Are her reasons for having a fling understandable or do you disapprove of her?

  • Is Nick a good or a bad husband? What about Mark Bretherick? And Jonathan Hey?

  • Do you see what happens to Sally subsequently in the book as a punishment for her having been unfaithful to her husband? Is the book taking a moral stance over extra-marital affairs? (The answer to this is no, by the way!)

  • What is the book saying about motherhood in the book? How do Sally, Encarna, Geraldine and Cordy differ, in their behavior as mothers?

  • What does the sociological theme of 'family annihilation' killings add to the book?  How does it resonate with the main plot?

  • Do you see the novel as having a feminist agenda in any way

  • Is Jonathan Hey evil, or are his crimes understandable?

  • What point is the book making, if any, about the role of grandparents in contemporary families?

  • Are the little girls in the novel --- Lucy, Amy and Oonagh --- goodies or baddies? Is it possible for a child to be a baddy, or is a nasty child's behavior more excusable than a nasty adult's?