Under the Influence

Under the Influence : A Novel

3.8 (4,929 ratings by Goodreads)
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The New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day and After Her returns with a poignant story about the true meaning-and the true price-of friendship.Drinking cost Helen her marriage and custody of her seven-year-old son, Ollie. Once an aspiring art photographer, she now makes ends meet taking portraits of school children and working for a caterer. Recovering from her addiction, she spends lonely evenings checking out profiles on an online dating site. Weekend visits with her son are awkward. He's drifting away from her, fast.When she meets Ava and Swift Havilland, the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. Wealthy, connected philanthropists, they have their own charity devoted to rescuing dogs. Their home is filled with fabulous friends, edgy art, and dazzling parties.Then Helen meets Elliott, a kind, quiet accountant who offers loyalty and love with none of her newfound friends' fireworks. To Swift and Ava, he's boring. But even worse than that, he's unimpressed by them.As Helen increasingly falls under the Havillands' influence-running errands, doing random chores, questioning her relationship with Elliott-Ava and Swift hold out the most seductive gift: their influence and help to regain custody of her son. But the debt Helen owes them is about to come due.Ollie witnesses an accident involving Swift, his grown son, and the daughter of the Havillands' housekeeper. With her young son's future in the balance, Helen must choose between the truth and the friends who have given her everything.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 20mm | 249g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • William Morrow Paperbacks
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0062257684
  • 9780062257680
  • 511,934

Review quote

"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
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Back cover copy

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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About Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard is the author of eight previous novels, including To Die For, Labor Day, The Good Daughters, and four books of nonfiction. Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in California.
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Rating details

4,929 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 22% (1,084)
4 44% (2,191)
3 27% (1,318)
2 5% (260)
1 2% (76)
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