Tag Archives: William Morrow & Co.

Review: Under the Influence

Under the Influence

Under the Influence
By Joyce Maynard
William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062257642, February 23, 2016, 336pp.

The Short of It:

A complex look at friendship and how much you are willing to overlook when happiness is at risk.

The Rest of It:

Divorced and saddened by her current situation, Helen’s decision to drive while under the influence causes her to lose custody of her young son, Ollie.  Distraught, she joins Alcoholics Anonymous as an attempt to get her life back on track realizing that she has a long road ahead of her.

Desperate to make a little money, Helen accepts a job serving appetizers at an art gallery party. The party is filled with rich, well-to-do types so it surprises Helen when one of the guests talks to her about art. Ava Havilland is beautiful, well-dressed and in a wheelchair and yet she exudes the type of confidence that Helen lacks. Ava’s husband, Swift is this larger-than-life personality. Together, the two are a force to be reckoned with. Needless to say, Helen is in awe of them and in no time, Ava has taken Helen under her wing by offering her gifts, clothing, inviting her to dinner and even hiring her as a photographer to work on a special project back at the house.

Let me tell you, this story got my blood pressure up in so many ways! There is an element of danger that you simply can’t ignore. Helen is so vulnerable. She’s just lost custody of her son and has trouble making ends meet and in walks this perfect couple and they are more than willing to offer their assistance, but why? There is literally tension on every page and I just loved it.

Surprisingly, Helen is not a likable character. She’s manipulative. She has a lot of faults and doesn’t always make the right choices but at the same time, I could relate to her situation and understand what this couple meant to her even though every piece of me wanted to scream at her and tell her to take her blinders off.

The entire time I was reading, I felt as if I knew what was going to happen but the story took a different turn and although I was glad to be surprised, I found it to be a little convenient and not that realistic.

That said, the ending didn’t affect my love for the book at all because that tension I mentioned is what kept me reading and Maynard digs deep when it comes to alcoholic tendencies and how tempting that one glass of wine can be. Under the Influence would make a great book club pick because there is plenty of good stuff to discuss. This was my third time reading Maynard’s work and I’ve enjoyed reading all of her books. I highly recommend them.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review & Tour: The Home Place

The Home PlaceThe Home Place 
By Carrie La Seur
(William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062323446, July 2014, 304pp.)

The Short of It:

Home is a place but it’s also something that resides within us.

The Rest of It:

Alma Terrebonne left Montana behind her when she accepted a position as a lawyer and made the city her home. But when her sister is found dead, she’s forced to return to the home place that she left behind.

Everyone knows how it is when you return home. If you left for a reason, then going back is not easy and that is very much the case here. The bleak winters, the isolation and the poor condition of the home place itself leave a lot to be desired, but at the same time, it’s home and there’s always a place for it within your heart. As I read this book, the conflict within Alma is obvious. There is a definite love/hate thing going on with being home, but at the same time, she is the “responsible” one and with her sister dead and her niece without a mother, she feels obligated to step in.

This tug of the heart, would have been enough to explore on its own but La Seur throws in some nasty dealings with mining folk making plays for the land, the ugliness of her sister’s death and some confusion over who she should be with romantically, the guy she left behind in Montana or her new love interest back in the city.

All in all, I think La Seur tried to give us too much at once. The result? Thin characters with very little substance. However, it read well for me. The flow of the writing was quite good which made it an easy and quick read. I’ve not read many books set in Montana and La Seur’s sense of place is strong in this one.  This is one of those books where I find myself scratching my head a little because it was enjoyable to read, and yet, I felt it could have been so much more.

If you enjoy novels that explore home and what it means and you don’t mind some nasty dealings messing up your perfect picture of biscuits and gravy and fried pork chops, then I say give it a try.

Carrie La Seur

For more information on the author, click here.

TLC Book Tours

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.