(Taylor Jenkins Reid, 2017)
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple?, this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means -and what it costs- to face the truth.
What I Liked
- The Husbands
- I loved each of her seven husbands for their own reasons. Even the ones that you aren’t supposed to “like” I still appreciated in the end. My favorites were Rex, Harry (of course) and Robert.
- Categorization of her life
- I liked how each part of her life was broken down by the husband of that time. There were obviously seven sections to this story, each one headed with a couple words and a husband’s name. I liked this because I find that a lot of people categorize their lives in similar ways. I know personally I do the same thing with college memories; I can identify the time period by what color my hair was. It makes sense to break the story up this way because in many cases years/decades pass before things change a bit and most people go into thinking the majority of the story is centered around her husbands.
- Evelyn Hugo
- This my friends is a complicated woman. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to use her, ahem, assets to get it. She was ruthless in the first couple of “chapters” with how she got to Hollywood, and got her name out into the world. There are so many things wrong with how she was able to use her body to get what she wanted, but it was also so (unfortunately) believable too. The way she learned so young how to be confident, and command a room, really stuck with her throughout her life, and benefited her to the very end. She was a force to be reckoned with. Someone I would find endlessly interesting and truthfully would probably idolize. She was complicated and flawed, but you really feel or her, especially at the end. It brought tears to my eyes the way every thing comes undone at the end. After all that she put up with, all that she had to do, she deserved a happy ending.
What I Disliked
- I feel like without the news clippings, I would have been very lost with the timeline of the story. I know that she mentions how many years pass between specific parts but it isn’t until we are already in that part of time (if that makes sense). I don’t know- there were parts where a decade has passed and I didn’t really know that until we were already talking about something else. It was hard to follow the timeline is all I am saying.
Nothing prepared me for how much I loved this book. I completely devoured it! There has always been something so interesting about Hollywood stars that people are just drawn too, and Reid really does a great job of making you want to know more about this one. The life of an otherwise ordinary journalist is intertwined with the epic life of a famous actress that just takes you on quite the journey. Over the span of many decades, major issues like sex and sexuality are explored. Fame is truly cutthroat and people don’t bat an eye when they step on you in order to move up the ladder. Happiness is not guaranteed, and that was a lesson that the beautiful Evelyn Hugo had to learn the hard way. A master of marriage (and divorce), Evelyn Hugo has always been seen a specific way by her fans. What she wants, is to be seen for real, for the first time in her life.
Wow. Just such an emotional roller coaster for one life! This book broke my heart, and warmed it at the same time. It was fun, and interesting, heartbreaking and infuriating. I really liked so many of these characters, and found myself very accepting of each husband’s role in the narrative.