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Under the Influence: A Novel Audiobook, by Joyce Maynard Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Joyce Maynard Narrator: Joyce Maynard Publisher: HarperAudio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2016 ISBN: 9780062257796
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Maynard allows her readers to experience the disappointments, temptations and the hope of redemption experienced by a woman who doesn’t know herself…Under the Influence isn’t a fast-paced read, but instead unfolds slowly and steadily, with unexpected twists, allowing Maynard to explore what it means to be under the influence of other people and how to take control of your own identity and destiny.”

    RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

  • “Maynard’s latest is illuminating and mesmerizing, highlighting 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

  • “A story about the pull of consuming friendships, of seeking to escape into the lives of others, of possession and illusion…Utterly captivating.”

    Megan Abbott, Edgar Award–winning author

  • “The reader be absorbed by this utterly beguiling, compulsively readable yarn.”


  • “Maynard’s expert narration and plotting plant the seeds for the explosive events at the end of her tale.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Not all authors are good narrators of their own work, but Joyce Maynard shows here that she has not only a pleasant voice but also an understanding of how to use it to create effects. Her careful writing doesn’t leave us in doubt about who is speaking, so Maynard can focus on moving us through the story of narrator Helen’s friendship with Ava and her billionaire husband, Swift.”


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About the Author

Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for the New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, and a regular contributor to NPR. Her writing has also been published in national magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine; Newsweek; the New York Times magazine; USA Weekly; and many more. Her novel The Usual Rules—a story about surviving loss—has been a favorite of book club audiences of all ages and was chosen by the American Library Association as one of the ten best books for young readers for 2003. Joyce also runs the Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in Guatemala, founded in 2002.