Overall rating: 5/5
Readability rating: 5/5
Character rating: 5/5
Plot rating: 5/5
Cover rating: 4/5
Would I recommend: Definitely would recommend this excellent book.
Goodread Genres: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Perfect for: Those who love complex love stories, historical fiction, the golden age of film and the 50s.
Book Synopsis: “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. ” – Goodreads Synopsis
The book is a whirlwind of emotions with various twists (some you can see coming) and turns (others you don’t see coming at all) that will be hard to shake after putting down the book. It is a story of love, friendship, and the complications of both. I thought this book would be cheesy, a little pretentious, and campy of the 1950s golden age of film. But it wasn’t that. It was a journey of one woman through the trials of love and self discovery that made me miss her when it was all over.
I hesitated putting the fourth genre in the top as it is a mild spoiler for one of the twists. LGBT is one of the genres. Evelyn is a bisexual and that’s a driving force for a lot of this plot.
The story was a wild roller coaster of emotion. Some of her husbands she married for love. Some she married to be a “beard” to cover up her love for a woman. But that didn’t mean she didn’t love them. The complex relationship of platonic and sexual love is explored in a beautiful 1950s setting while Evelyn also explores what it all means to her. As someone who identifies on the bi spectrum myself it was heartwarming to see Celia change from insulting Evelyn for pretending not to be a lesbian to final acceptance of her being bisexual.
Evelyn and Celia’s relationship is complicated and tears at you as you read. You feel for Evelyn while also understanding that she isn’t a good person. You feel the dread and the wait…turning each page wondering if you’ll see the other shoe drop.
And Harry. Oh, Harry. Evelyn’s closest friend, one of her husbands, and a fine example of someone just trying to get through his life without being thrown to the societal piranhas. He tries to protect Evelyn. You watch as the world around them shows open hate to what they are and what they do and yet you feel their triumphs even for a short amount of time. A gay man, a lesbian woman, and a bisexual woman, all trying to get through life while the world wants them dead.
In the end I didn’t care much about Monique. She was a character that mirrored a lot of things Evelyn went through (just in a different way) and was an important part of the final reveal, but honestly…I didn’t care about her at all. She was just a vessel to get Evelyn’s story down and to throw one last final twist at you before you closed the book. She didn’t contribute much to the story nor did she take any away.
She felt like she was meant to be there when the reader needed to release the weight of all Evelyn’s sorrow.
I was emotionally compromised by this book. Almost cried twice. I will think about this book for years to come and will recommend it to anyone I know.