This book on been on my radar for YEARS. I have had a copy on my shelf and that stunning green dress just calls to me on the cover. But yet I haven’t picked it up. Despite the rave reviews and all the buzz. I don’t really know why other than it sounded a little heavy but I found myself looking at it and then putting it back on my shelf. Especially the last couple of years, I have really leaned more toward light fluffy reading and just wasn’t ready for something more serious.
Then I found myself reading on my Kindle one night only to discover that I was on a ‘hot streak’ with my reading. This summer Amazon has been doing like a summer reading challenge for Kindle readers and I found that I had reached silver status. I had more challenges to unlock which included reading a ‘light summer reading’ book. It gave a list of books and this one was at the top. And right then and there I was like YES the time has come to read this one finally!
It ranked as a top beach/summer read and I was fully ready to indulge in this one. I downloaded it (never mind I had a copy on my shelf!) and dove right on in. I quickly realized this book wasn’t going to be the light and easy reading I was hoping for but I decided to read it anyway since I love the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood and I was intrigued by the premise of the book. It opens with this nobody writer who is approached by this mega star at the end of her life, to write a multimillion dollar biography. But what no one understands—-is why Monique selected to be the writer? That’s what hooked me.
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. (summary from Goodreads)
I literally can’t decide how I feel about this book. On one hand, I didn’t like Evelyn at all—-like not even a little. But there was something about her that I admired which I guess is the hallmark of a great character and probably the whole point to her character. She was ruthless and frank in ways that I could only dream of being. Her insight and cunning were a thrill to read. But I just didn’t like her character at all. I never felt bad for her and I couldn’t stand that she just basically used everyone she met. I had a really hard time with her over all. I liked the twist on her husbands though. Without giving too much away there is one very big reason she has seven husbands, they hide her one true love. I thought this main love story was compelling, modern, and interesting. I loved reading about it even if I never loved the two characters. Yes I didn’t care for the true love either. I found the true love equally as unlikeable and manipulative. But yet I couldn’t help but keep reading.
This book is full of tragedy for so many people. It was heartbreaking to read, especially toward the end. Even if I didn’t love the characters, their various losses still were impactful to readers which was so odd for me. I haven’t read a book where I didn’t like a single character but yet felt emotional for the narrative. It was a very weird book in that regard but yet a good one. Personally I felt zero connection with Monique. She felt one dimensional to me and I didn’t care for her back story with her husband etc. I understood that she grew from her friendship with Evelyn and how Evelyn changed her and gave her strength but in general the story was strong enough without Monique being part of the story. I get that she was the catalyst for the novel and I appreciated how ultimately their narratives meshed but in many ways I think there could have been an alternative solution or connection between their stories. Monique felt just bland for me and I would have liked her story to be more of a thing in this book. It would have been longer but I think it would have helped readers feel a connection to the ‘innocent’ in this book.
I have no idea what to rate this book. I think I am going to go with three stars. It was well written and interesting with a modern and unique love story, but there was something that I didn’t love about this. Maybe it was the characters, maybe it was that it was too emotional for when I thought it was going to be more ‘beach read’ material which for me means light. I don’t know I liked it and want to read more by this author, I loved the Hollywood business parts and the industry issues but in the end I was expecting something entirely different than what I got. I do think that people should read this book though. It’s unique and stands out for it’s unlikeable characters but yet has a moving plot so it’s memorable and enjoyable based on that. I wish I could give it a higher rating and maybe in reflection I will. I just ultimately don’t know what to rate this one as it was great but I also didn’t like the characters so.I ended up going with a split down the middle.
Book Info and Rating
Format: 389 pages hardcover
Published: June 13 2017 by Atria Books
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Historical fiction