If you haven’t already, read this book immediately. I’ll tell you right now, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. And I had the pleasure of buddy reading it with the amazing Beth @ Bibliobeth.
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.
Upon starting this novel, I instantly fell in love with Reid’s writing style, it’s so engaging, it has you believing it so much you forget that Evelyn Hugo is a fictional character.
What surprised me about this novel was how much I enjoyed reading about the psychology of Hollywood.
“I’m saying you should be predictable and then do something unpredictable, and they’ll love you forever.”
We all know not to believe everything we read about celebrities. In this novel we get Evelyn’s real life and the life [and stories] she portrayed to the outside world – the psychology behind the manipulation of the public was truly fascinating. I’m not just talking about the fact that Evelyn is Cuban but was wise to the world of Hollywood, the need to distance herself from her Cuban heritage, to succeed in straight, white Hollywood. But how did Evelyn know how much to bend the truth, how did she know how far to go to keep the public on side, or how much exaggeration was needed to get the public back on side after an unfavourable incident, why didn’t she trust us enough with the truth? I’m aware Hugo is a fictional character but these questions can easily transfer to real-life Hollywood stars.
One of the reasons this psychological aspect worked so well was because Evelyn lived such an interesting life, it was fascinating to see the truth in comparison to the life she portrayed to the world. How exhausting it must be to live two lives! You really warm to Evelyn as a character, she lays her life bare, she gives you the opportunity to get intimate with her.
“People think intimacy is about sex.
But intimacy is about truth.”
And it’s this intimacy that pulls you into the story, it allows you to forgive Evelyn her mistakes, to will her to a happy ending, to believe in her character. There’s this beautiful sadness to Evelyn’s life, she’s a rich character, one of the most fleshed-out I’ve ever come across.
As you read this novel and learn about the life of this Hollywood actress, there’s this underlying suspense that never goes away – why did Evelyn choose Monique, in what way do their lives intersect? The suspense did outweigh the reveal but I can’t be mad about that because it was still a very good reveal. It fit perfectly with the story, with the character of Evelyn; she is telling her truth and for her it was the right move, so for the reader, it made sense and you could understand why it was such a huge reveal for Evelyn.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is glamorous – in Hugo you have a complex character who, while fictional, is very real to you. And the writing, the wonderful, wonderful writing! This novel is worthy of all its praise, it’s brilliant, emotional, memorable, a captivating read from the first page to the last!
Previous buddy reads with Beth @ Bibliobeth