Book Summary:

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.

My Review:

Helen is grasping at straws, trying to make a life for herself without her son. She is vulnerable when she meets the Havillands. She comes to want their life.

The quiet accountant who is crazy about her seems dull when she compares him to her new friends.

But looks can deceive. And Helen learns loss all over again. But this time it is a friendship she held dear.

Helen is a flawed person who made a mistake, and is paying a very high price for it. This book is about coming to terms with acceptance, loss and moving forward.

It is about not following the shiniest of objects right into destruction.

I loved this book. I like to read about people who are flawed, who must find a path forward. Joyce Maynard created a character that goes from the depths of despair to feeling alive again. I felt what Helen felt. This is proof of great writing.

About The Author:

Joyce Maynard began her career in journalism in the 1970s, writing for several publications, most notably Seventeen magazine and New York Times. Maynard began her career as a novelist with the publication of her first novel, Baby Love (1981).

Her second novel, To Die For (1992), drew from the Pamela Smart murder case and was adapted into a film. Maynard received significant media attention in 1998 with the publication of her memoir At Home in the World, which deals with her affair with J.D. Salinger.

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3 Comments

  1. Helen sounds like a well-developed character and I enjoy reading a book when I feel connected to the characters. Thank you for the review.

  2. This sounds like a book that my book club would enjoy. Have you read The Widow by Fiona Barton? It is a psychological thriller with many twists and turns.

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