- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 22, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062257684
- ISBN-13: 978-0062257680
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 290 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Under the Influence: A Novel Paperback – November 22, 2016
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“Maynard’s latest is illuminating and mesmerizing, highlight not only differing definitions of friendship, but the shades of gray between right and wrong and the lengths to which some will go to protect their self-interest.” (Publishers Weekly)
“My to-do list had umpteen items on it, but I let them all go to hell as I tore through Joyce Maynard’s latest page-turner. . . . To-do list? What to-do list? Under the Influence is a riveting read.” (Wally Lamb)
“It’s a story about the pull of consuming friendships, of seeking to escape into the lives of others, of possession and illusion — and you will not be able to put it down until Maynard herself releases you. Utterly captivating.” (Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of Dare Me and The Fever)
From the Back Cover
When Helen meets Swift and Ava Havilland at an art gallery opening, her life is at an all-time low. A DUI conviction caused her to lose her driver’s license and custody of her eight-year-old son, Oliver. Now she sees Ollie on Saturdays, but he hasn’t forgiven his mother for messing up their life. She’s got a dead-end job and goes on occasional dates, but spends most evenings at AA meetings. The Havillands change all that.
Ava and Swift are wealthy, charismatic philanthropists who fill their home with valuable art, unlikely friends, and over-the-top parties. The Havillands quickly become the center of Helen’s world, as she takes on jobs for them and joins their glamorous inner circle. Then Helen meets Elliot—a quiet, uncool accountant the Havillands dismiss as boring. Helen might be falling in love with him, but her new best friends disapprove—and cause Helen to distrust her own heart.
Most compelling, for Helen, is what her friendship with the Havillands has meant to her relationship with her son. Ollie looks up to the larger-than-life man who treats him like a second son. And Swift has promised Helen the services of a high-powered attorney to help her regain custody. But when tragedy strikes, Helen and Ollie must pay up for the generosity of Helen’s new friends. Or pay dearly if they refuse.
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Top customer reviews
When an emergency arose one night, Helen made the decision to drive her son to the hospital, a choice that would alter her life forever. Pulled over and arrested for DUI, her bad times had just begun. Her ex-husband filed for full custody of five-year-old Oliver, and Helen’s life was truly empty at that point, with restricted visitation with her son.
In these dark and vulnerable moments of her life, Helen met up with a seductive wealthy couple, Swift and Ava Havilland, who charmed and literally swept her up into their inner circle, granting favors, asking some from her in return, and before she knew it, Helen was under their spell.
When she introduced her son to the inner circle of the Havillands during one of her visits, he, too, was pulled into the magical vortex these “friends” offered. Now their life seemed golden. Until it wasn’t.
Under the Influence: A Novel is one of those stories that drew this reader in with its realistic situations and characters, reminding us that alcohol and drugs are not the only addictive elements in life, but people who are able to con and influence those around them can be just as dangerous. What happened to Helen would have lasting consequences, and when a life-threatening situation arose, she realized how quickly those charming people could dismiss and turn on her.
Sometimes in life, and in novels, there is no punishment for the truly dangerous people who can do grievous harm…but just when I thought there would be no consequences, something happened to bring about a little satisfaction to this reader. 5 stars.
The story leaves me thinking about the lives of people who cross our paths and even captivate us throughout life. Who is a real, true-blue friend? Who is not who he or she seems? And, are the lives that people show us on the surface the lives that they are really living? As the story moves along, I found later that I missed some particular plants that show up later and give me chills when the pieces come together.
Once I am half way through the book, I can't help but wonder how Joyce will turn the story on its side, but I know she will. I sense a major twist is coming, but what?
When it all comes together, I can't read fast enough.
As a writer myself, I know that it is important to end each chapter with a something special to keep the reader turning the pages -- a bit of special drama, a double-meaning, intrigue, a twist. I found that Joyce excelled at varying these techniques throughout the chapters and indeed, they kept me engaged. Bravo!