4.5 ⭐️’s from me
Goodreads Summary: “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.”
I had heard whisperings of what a fun read this was way before it came up on my library list – and I agree!
Former movie star, Evelyn, in recounting her life to Monique, offers the following advice: “Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.” However, as you follow her story, one husband at a time, you learn that this is more than advice – it’s her life motto. Her life is anything but ordinary – as is the mystery of why she has asked Monique to hear her story…
The novel is broken into sections about Evelyn’s life with each husband – these section titles perfectly capture how Evelyn recalls each period in her life, setting the mood for the pages to follow.
Reid aptly entangles touchy, controversial questions about sexuality, sexual identity and suicide all through the life of one individual who was not afraid to make the most of what she has. The interspersing of tabloid excerpts allow us to see the results of Evelyn’s decisions, both planned and unplanned. The nuances of how one fast choice can effect so many others with lasting repercussions continue to surprise the reader as you keep turning those pages – pulled on my Monique’s mysterious roll in all of this. Reid even switches Evelyn’s narration into the second person to further emphasize her struggles to justify her actions. The characterization is simply magnificent.
I read this in one sitting and absolutely loved it. A quick, but intriguing read, it is no wonder this is a finalist on Goodreads this year.