Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > Under the Influence

Under the Influence by Jacqueline Lunn
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Jan 17, 12

bookshelves: aussie-author
Read from January 11 to 12, 2012

The narrative of Under The Influence spans almost twenty years and weaves in and out of time and place. The tragic death of Meghan reunites old school friends Evie and Sarah in the dusty outback for her funeral. The three girls had met at a small exclusive boarding school in Sydney as 12 year olds and formed a friendship, with Meghan at it's center. Under the Influence is a interesting novel exploring the themes of friendship, guilt and the inescapable spectre of the past.

As the story unwinds we learn the history of the girls friendship, their experiences at boarding school, the shocking secret that they have kept hidden and the insidious effects their past has had on their life. Though the viewpoint is omniscient, it is Eve who becomes the central figure of the novel.
As adults Eve, Sarah and Meghan have drifted apart. Eve has been living in London, a cellist in the Royal Orchestra. Sarah is settled in the suburbs of Sydney with her husband and young children while Meghan, a doctor, rarely stayed long in any one place. Reuniting at the funeral brings long buried memories to the fore.
For Eve, boarding school was both wonderful and hellish. Quiet and lacking in confidence, her close friendship with Meghan, who also came from a small country town, meant everything to her but when Meghan won a scholarship to study abroad for a year Eve's life was made hellish by Rebecca Thornton, a 'day' girl who relentlessly bullies Eve. Lunn captures the torment Eve experiences in brutal detail, and shows how those experiences influences Eve even decades later.
Sarah's home was only streets away from the school yet she boarded because of her parent's claim that their careers didn't offer the stability Sarah needed. Sarah was part of, but always peripheral, to Meghan and Eve's friendship and secretly resented Eve. Sarah's characterisation is the most subtle, her role in events is never made explicit but slowly awareness creeps in as the story progresses.

While Under The Influence is novel of contemporary drama, there are glimmers of humour and mystery. The plot is revealed in fragments of time and character that urge you to keep turning the pages and though it is a little slow in parts, patience is rewarded with a shocking revelation. It is the complex characters who will ensnare you though, provoking a range of emotions, they are not easy to forget.

Under the Influence is an absorbing novel in which Lunn unravels the past to make sense of the present. Beautifully crafted and thought provoking this is a strong debut novel from a new Australian author.

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Reading Progress

01/11/2012 page 74

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by April (new) - added it

April Hey... this sound like a really interesting read!! Can you tell me about content rating? Is it PG-13 or under??

Shelleyrae at Book'd Out April wrote: "Hey... this sound like a really interesting read!! Can you tell me about content rating? Is it PG-13 or under??"

There isn't a lot of sexual content or language but what there is would render it inappropriate for a PG13 audience.

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