on June 13, 2017
From Taylor Jenkins Reid, “a genius when it comes to stories about life and love” (Redbook), comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
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 in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, 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 fascinating 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 takes—to face the truth.
I am a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read and loved One True Loves and Maybe in Another Life. She knows how to write good romance that is full of twist and turns and keeps you guessing how the characters were going to turn up.
When I saw her book as Book of the Month selection last year I knew I needed to pick it up. I’ve had this book in my TBR for about a year. When the opportunity to buddy read came up I decided to take advantage and start reading.
This book was everything. This book features strong female protagonist, a story of rebirth and it has some amazing twists. The characters are diverse. This is a historical fiction which I am learning that I actually like this genre.
Characters: Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood star who married seven times but she was in love with a woman. Throughout the story, we hear Evelyn’s life story from Hell Kitchen to Hollywood and back. We hear why she got married so many times. We learned about her mistakes and regrets and what she gained from pursuing fame and fortune. Evelyn is a force to reckon with.
In the story, we have Monique who Evelyn handpicked to write her story. We learned in the end why this was the case but it was interesting to see Monique growing up with her interactions with Evelyn.
Plot: Much of the story is about old Hollywood and Evelyn’s seven husbands. This make the story go quickly. It was interesting to see how relationships were fabricated, or being with someone who just wanted the idealized version of the other person.
Romance: There is an epic love story that is transparent throughout the story.
What I feel? This book was epic. I laughed. I even cried reading it in the subway. When I finished this book I was ready to start re-reading it.
I admired Evelyn. I connected with her heritage as a Cuban yet adapting to society’s expectation and somewhat rejecting her heritage. I noticed for me that has been the case over the past few years, I adapted to what is expected of me to be as a New Yorker that I forget that I am Puerto Rican. I don’t speak the language as often as I should. I don’t eat the food as often. After reading this book and Next Year in Havana, I made a conscious choice to reclaim my heritage. I am visiting my hometown a couple of times this year. I am using Spanish at work.