Genre: fiction, lgbt characters
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.
Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple?, this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means -and what it costs- to face the truth.
Evelyn Hugo sounds just like a movie star. Monique is done by another narrator and they both do a really good job. It really made the story come alive, like Evelyn was telling her own biography, and Monique’s thoughts on it.
Rating out of five: five
Evelyn Hugo, the movie star, was such an interesting character, especially seen through the journalist Monique’s eyes. She’s into playing games, and it has gotten her far in her life, as she’s gotten out of poverty and into mansions. This book brings up ideas around power, it has all the glam of a 1950’s star, but also a lot of moral dilemmas as Evelyn talks about the decisions she’s made in her life and how she rarely regrets them, even those with huge consequences. I really liked her friend-group/family she built up, really this book turned from ambition to impotance of community and love. Of how to deal with loss. And queer characters and love!
“It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.”
The story itself seems so real, several times I went to google Evelyn Hugo, to find out a piece of info, before realizing that of course, she was fictional. While I liked Monique, the character, I didn’t care for her descriptions of her own life. It’s less spectacular than Evelyn’s, sure, but there’s ways to find joy even in a “normal” life. The miserable soon-to-be divorced journalist negative view of herself storyline is quite boring and I didn’t get it. The twist of the story blew me away. I didn’t see it coming at all, and it made the entire story make sense, every doubt Monique had, was cleared up.
It’s a fictional biography of a fictional 1950’s movie stars life, and it does it so spectacularly well, making quite an impact on me. This book also encourages you to take more of the opportunities you get, to not be so timid about ambition. I don’t think it’s the right way to look at life, putting your needs before everyone else, but it’s one that should be considered in more situations, especially by women in careers.