“Seven husbands. Which one did she love best? Which one was the real one?”
This book had me turning the pages pretty quickly to find out what would happen next, and I read nearly all of it in one day. It tells the tale of Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo, who escaped the humble beginnings in Hell’s Kitchen to live out her dream of becoming an actress in Hollywood. Born Evelyn Herrara, of Cuban descent, she is a blend of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor as real life counter-parts.
It begins in current day, with Evelyn supposedly selling off her iconic gowns, and willing to give a story to a magazine called Vivant, but only if they allow Monique Grant (a low level journalist without much experience) to do the piece. Monique is biracial, recently separated, and completely puzzled as to why Evelyn would choose her. Then Evelyn tells her that Monique has been picked to write not just a magazine article, but Evelyn’s life story. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, especially since Evelyn tells her that all of the book profit will belong to Monique. But there’s one catch – Monique must wait until Evelyn is dead to publish it.
What follows is a tale of old Hollywood glitz and glamour, spanning the years from late 1950s through to present day. Evelyn is determined to tell her story without flinching, and she freely admits that she did some things that may have been morally wrong in order to succeed. But she has few regrets, except for losing the love of her life, the identity of whom we discover fairly on in the book. I won’t spill any of the secrets here, you have to read it!
There are sections for each of her husbands, telling the history of the relationship, why she married, and what happened to cause the subsequent divorce. Some marriages were short, some were longer, and yet all served a purpose. The story is by turns emotional, heart breaking and amazing in its intensity. Evelyn is the kind of woman who isn’t afraid of what she wants, or how she needs to go about getting it. She may not appeal to everyone as a heroine, but that’s really the point of the story – she’s flawed and human, and took her chances to make something out of her life.
The only puzzler that continues through the book, is why is Monique the one chosen to write the biography? Evelyn hints throughout that Monique will find out when they are finished working together, and though I had my suspicions about it, the twist was a real surprise. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a new author to me, and she has written a fantastic tale here. It’s not overly explicit, despite the many marriages, but if you want a well written story that gives a peek at the scene behind the Hollywood glamour, you might enjoy this one – I certainly did!