Verdict: Lovely and heartbreaking.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published by Simon and Schuster UK, May 28th 2018
Reclusive Hollywood 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 to write her story, no one is more astounded than Monique herself.
Determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career, Monique listens in fascination. 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. But as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
I feel like I was the last person on earth who hadn’t read this book and I am so glad I finally did. That said, it took me a while to finish this because there was a bit in the middle that dragged for me – however, man, does Taylor Jenkins Reid ever pull it back together after the 50% mark. From that point onwards, I was so very invested.
On the surface, this is the story of Evelyn Hugo’s seven marriages as told to Monique, a rather inexperienced journalist getting the chance of her lifetime to write a memoir to one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. But more than that, this book is the portrait of woman who honestly and gracefully bares her all to the world here. And I adored Evelyn so very much. She is by far my favourite part of this book; she is ruthless and ambitious but unflinchingly honest in her own portrayal. I could not help but root for her as she made her way in the minefield that is Hollywood. Whenever the storyline strayed from her, I was eager to get back to her and get to know her better. Monique on the other hand did not always work for me as the person through whose lens we are getting the story.
Told in effortless prose that compelled me to keep reading, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her story without unnecessary flourish in a way that let her main character shine and her side characters dazzle. I adored Harry beyond measure and thought Celia was wonderfully flawed but incredibly compelling. The ending ripped my heart out but I am so glad to have finally read this.
I received a drc courtesy of NetGalley and Simon and Schuster UK in exchange for an honest review.