Thursday, June 30, 2016

Under the Influence

Book: Under the Influence
Author: Joyce Maynard

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.-Goodreads

Review: June was my book club selection and I chose this book. I've enjoyed Maynard's writing in the past and the synopsis sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the synopsis was a little too thorough-it's was like watching a movie preview that highlights all the high points and not enough is left to the imagination. So..there was nothing surprising in the plot. The book was slow and none of the characters were particularly likable. It was frustrating seeing Helen make such bad decisions regarding the Havilland's over and over and over. However, my heart did break for her when she lost custody of her son. Seeing how their relationship was damaged was just devastating. I think this book brought up some good questions-Was she really an alcoholic? (something we discussed in book club). Do you know people like the Havilland's (yes, people like them definitely exist). I did enjoy how she redeemed herself at the end (she finally grew a backbone, yay!) and I liked how the book ended on an open note. However..I would hope that Elliott would have moved by then, she treated him horribly. 

Overall-not my favorite read, but I liked it. 

Grade: 3/5

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