My spotlight today is on a recent download I purchased from a favorite author: Under the Influence, by Joyce Maynard.
Intro: It was late November, and for a week solid the rain hadn’t let up. My son and I had moved out of our old apartment back before school started, but I had left it until now to clear the last of our belongings out of the storage area I’d been renting. With two days left before the end of the month, I decided not to wait any longer for dry weather. Worse things could happen to a person than getting a few boxes wet. As I well knew.
The fact that we had finally left this town was good news. Not long before, I’d finally paid off the last of my debt to the lawyer who’d represented me in my custody trial more than a dozen years earlier. Now Oliver and I were living in a bigger apartment closer to my new job in Oakland—a place where my son could finally have a little space, with a little work studio for me, too. After a long, hard stretch, the future looked hopeful.
Teaser: “I have these friends,” I had told Elliott the first night we met. “Wonderful people. The best friends I ever had. They sort of took me under their wing. They’re like my family.” (43%).
Synopsis: 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.
Would you keep reading? I love this author, so I’m biased. What do you think?