The New York Times best-selling 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 by taking portraits of schoolchildren 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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Paper-Thin Caricatures Inhabit PG-13 Morality Tale
- Gretchen SLP
Appearances, words and actions can be deceiving
Not the audiobook version, but I would recommend the paper copy version. I did not particularly care for Joyce Maynard (also the author) as the narrator.
Under the Influence was a book about friendship, choices, unconditional love, karma & sitting back to watch how they all intertwine. At times, I found it difficult to hear how things didn't turn out the way I hoped they would go for Helen, but such is life, I guess.
I listened to this as an audiobook and I am almost 100% sure I would have enjoyed it more on paper. Joyce is the narrator and author and for the most part, I found her difficult to listen to.
Don't you absolutely love when you get to that ending chapter of a book and you find yourself nodding along with the author while wiping tears that are streaming down your face? Me too! This book will certainly give you that moment.
The ending will have you pondering on how much we take people's lives at face value and making you realize nothing is (hardly) ever as it appears to be. Looks and works can be deceiving. Sometimes the friends who you thought were the definition of a true friend turn out to be snakes in the grass and those people who you dismissed for whatever reason truly did want the best for you.
Great book with some really lovely moments, but I would recommend not listening to the audio book.