3.6 out of 4 stars.
Jeeze, some people will do ANYTHING for the lime light.
Monique Grant is a journalist that is down on her luck. She is in the process of getting a divorce, her father died which leads to a nagging mother with some extra free time, and she is bored with the pieces she is assigned to at work. You can imagine her surprise when the famous Hollywood movie star for three decades, Evelyn Hugo, personally asks for her to come by her 5th avenue apartment and write up the “it” story on her upcoming charity dress collection. Of course, Monique’s boss forces her to agree to do it, even though she is petrified due to Hugo’s insistence it be ONLY her to do the story. Why Monique?
Monique was right to be skeptical. The moment she enters Hugo’s apartment she realizes the older star had something up her sleeve; a tell all book about the history of her seven (or more) loves in her lifetime. She would only tell the journalist at the end why she picked her to take on the exclusive that could lead to millions of dollars all for Monique. This could be Grant’s big break but she was still uncomfortable with how this just fell into her lap. The reason behind Evelyn Hugo’s desire for her must be something very interesting and important.
The parts of the book where Monique and Evelyn are interacting are my favorite. I enjoyed how Monique was able to take Hugo’s stories and have them help guide her own currently messy life. Of course, this admiration is in spite of not knowing that her feelings toward this woman may change in the end once the reveal occurs.
The historical fiction scenes when Hugo is looking back on her life were a bit edgy for me. At times very sexual and what seems like absolute recklessness when it came for her urge to get to the top of Hollywood’s IT list, no matter what or with whom. I have never been a Marilyn Monroe fan and gravitated toward more of the Audrey Hepburn’s of the early Hollywood stars. The reason I bring up Marilyn is because she wasn’t known for her acting but kept landing wonderful parts. The allure was in her sexuality and her surprise factor of what scandal she was going to get into next in her personal life while the movies were on a press tour. This is very much the same for Evelyn Hugo. She seemed to be using herself as a pawn in order to rise to fame. To me, it was difficult to read because it seemed like a wasted life.
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is great. I know that since I have these feelings of uncomfortableness it must mean she did a great job describing these scenes. I feel like I am sitting right there and having to duck my head in shame during another divorce.
Quick good summer read that will leave your head spinning with how wild Evelyn Hugo was and what the surprise reveal of her connection with Monique Grant is. If you like what you read above, may I also recommend “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter. It has a similar young Hollywood vibe and may be for those of you that aren’t interested in as much sex.