By: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): From Taylor Jenkins Reid 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.
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 through the decades—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.
Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, 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 have read two of Jenkins Reid’s previous novels and loved them. When I found out that she was coming out with a new book it immediately went onto my TBR list. I odn’t think I even read the summary for this one. Although, lets me honest, even if I wasn’t already a fan of Jenkins Reid this cover is gorgeous and I would have picked it up based on that alone.
What I thought
Jenkins Reid’s previous books have focused on marriage and relationships. She does a great job of writing relationships realistically and with wonderful complexities. This book is a bit different but just as wonderful.
Evelyn Hugo is an old time movie star from the 1950s-1980s. Monique Grant is a journalist who is just beginning to establish her career. While Evelyn is known for her acting talent, she is more known for the fact that she has had seven husbands and never told her story. One day she picks Monique to be the author of her autobiography, without telling anyone why it HAS to be Monique.
When I started this book, I thought it was going to focus a little more on Monique and her part of the story. However, it truly reads more like an autobiography of Evelyn Hugo with bits of Monique’s story thrown in. Monique is having her own life struggles, and through working with Evelyn, she learns some lessons that help her figure out her life. Of course, there’s also the mystery of wyh Evelyn chose unknown Monique in the first place.
The style of this book is definitely a departure from Jenkins Reid’s previous books, but it is just as compelling. The complex relationships are still as solidly there are they were in her previous novels, and for me, that’s what makes her stories so great.
I loved being brought back to the 1950s and seeing how Evelyn evolves from a nobody from New York to an Academy Award winning actress. The book is divided into sections by husband, so you get to see who she was with each of them and how they all impacted her life in their own ways. It’s a really unique book and I greatly enjoyed it. I’m left with the feeling that Evelyn really existed in out world and I wish that I could watch her films.