UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

With friends like these….

“I had never been inside a house like the Havillands’.…There was so much evidence of life in the place—life and warmth. All of it seeming to emanate directly from Ava, as clearly as if the house were a body and she its heart.” Helen, a struggling divorcée who's lost custody of her son after a drunken driving arrest, is befriended by a wealthy couple at an art opening where she's working for the caterer. Ava Havilland, who's in a wheelchair due to some mysterious event in the past, takes up Helen with a passion, buying her gifts, bringing her to restaurants, lending her clothes, thoroughly involving her in the elegant social life she shares with her investor husband, Swift. The Havillands begin to fill the miserable vacancy in Helen’s days and nights left by the absence of her son, Ollie, and of her old friend Mr. Wine Bottle (she has not had a drink since the night of her arrest). Then, luckily, Ollie’s dad begins to allow the boy to spend more time with her. Ollie, too, falls in love with the Havillands and their largesse, particularly with Swift, who gives him hearty doses of the masculine attention he hasn’t been getting much of from his own father. “ ‘Is that guy a superhero or something?’ he asked me. ‘You could say that,’ I said.” But the Havillands’ glow is soon to dim. As they undercut Helen’s new romance with an accountant they deem a bore, as that very accountant begins to pore through the public records of their dog rescue foundation, as they continually harp on the amazingness of their sex life (to the point that Helen feels compelled to google "paraplegic sex"), it's clear that a very big reversal lies in wait.

Maynard’s (After Her, 2013, etc.) expert narration and plotting plant the seeds for the explosive events at the end of her tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-225764-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2015




MORE BY JOYCE MAYNARD

FictionAFTER HER by Joyce Maynard
by Joyce Maynard
FictionTHE GOOD DAUGHTERS by Joyce Maynard
by Joyce Maynard
FictionLABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard
by Joyce Maynard

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionHER by Harriet Lane
by Harriet Lane
FictionTHE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer
by Meg Wolitzer
FictionLIFE SENTENCE by Laura Lippman
by Laura Lippman