My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK for a review copy of this book.
This is a book that so many have talked about on blogs and booktube, especially the latter that what I say/write is bound to be somewhat repetitive but I shall do a review as I do usually all the same. For those who didn’t know already, this book is about Evelyn Hugo, a successful Hollywood star in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s who has gone through ups and down in her career, even won an Oscar, and has also had a personal life that has held the public’s attention, perhaps even more so than her film career, specifically the fact that she was married seven times. In the book, she seeks out Monique Grant, a young writer/journalist with a magazine Vivant, one somewhere at the bottom of the ladder, and agrees to tell her and only her the whole story of her life. Needless to say those at Vivant and Monique herself are shocked, but Evelyn won’t reveal the reason till she is ready to. And so Evelyn begins telling Monique her tale, from humble beginnings, in fact a rather precarious existence, to stardom, the “bold” decisions she took in her life and career, and of course, how she came to meet and marry each of her seven husbands. Alongside we also learn about Monique and her life, and her interactions with Evelyn certainly impact on how she handles the situations that she has to confront. The story is told in both their “voices”, interspersed with reports/articles from magazines/gossip columns, and blogs.
This book turned out quite different from what I expected, though honestly I am not really sure if I went into it with any specific expectations. Anyway, Evelyn’s story is of one who will do all it takes, anything it takes to achieve her dreams, and she is not one who regrets the decisions she makes. But while one may achieve the glamour, the fame, and the power, does it necessarily translate to happiness—no it doesn’t. And what Evelyn’s story also shows us is that all of this doesn’t put us above or take us away from the issues that any human being may have to face, and it may perhaps be harder in that position to deal with them than for an “ordinary” human being. Hollywood, the movies, are a place of illusion making, something I thought came through well in Evelyn Waugh’s The Loving Spirit. And it does much more so in this book, the illusions that need to be created and maintained, and the price that they come at—which makes you wonder why people go after them at all, when none of it, the fame or money are really worth it in the end. Still, Evelyn’s story—the struggles she had to undergo, not so much in her career though it had its share too, but to find personal happiness made for very interesting reading, and definitely did have me hooked on. Yet, I felt the bigger “hook” for me in this book was the “mystery” element of why she had chosen Monique to reveal her story to—that was what really kept me reading. Another aspect I enjoyed in the book was the clippings from gossip columns/papers and blogs that were scattered between the chapters—the blog with its comments, and especially the writing style in the older columns—I thought these were very nicely done. Overall, this was a very good read for me but I didn’t find that I loved it quite to the extent that some others have—in other words a 4/4.25 stars but not a full five but only because it didn’t have come completely enamoured.
Have you read this one yet? What did you think of it? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!