Well, I will be completely up front with you. With my next several reviews, I’m going to have to be very concise. I’m desperately behind. My era of distraction and disillusionment has not yet abated, and I’m going to have to do something about it unless I want to just abandon all hope of completing my goals for this year. I’m not yet ready to do that. Perhaps you will be grateful with me for not being quite so long winded.
Journalist Monique Grant isn’t exactly at the top of the journalistic food chain when she gets an odd request to appear at the home of aging Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo. Ms. Hugo is adamant that it will be Monique and only Monique who will hear her life story, and Monique will be the one to write her official biography in full detail. Evelyn is finally ready to share the truth, even if some of it will be shocking to her adoring fans. Monique isn’t stupid enough to believe Evelyn doesn’t have some kind of scheme. As someone who is only vaguely familiar with the famous actress with no known professional or personal ties, she understands fully that Evelyn has a reason for choosing her, a reason she refuses to share until the precise right moment. A reason she promises will be life altering for the both of them.
This book is wildly exciting at the beginning. Not only does Reid do an excellent job of building suspense and intrigue right from the start, but she manages to keep the suspense and intrigue going. Evelyn is an extremely compelling character. You will love to hate her and hate that you love her. More important than anything else about this book, though, is the fact that Reid hasn’t presented a cookie cutter idea of what life in Hollywood is like, she’s portrayed a realistic picture behind the facade of glamour and perfection. This is the beautiful and the ugly. It’s re-humanizing the people we’ve stripped of their humanity by giving them god-like status. The price of fame is extremely steep, and there are no returns or exchanges.
I can tell Reid did her research into this book. It’s a deep-dive into the golden age of Hollywood. It will be especially compelling for someone with a fascination with this era. While central characters are entirely fictional, one can glean some similarities between characters and real celebrities. I mean, the string of husbands is a pretty obvious nod to Elizabeth Taylor even if the details surrounding those relationships were fictional. I got a little bit weary of the actual love story. The constant on again off again nature and the drama of it all was initially touching and heartbreaking, but the longer it went on the power of it faded and I just wanted to be done with it. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and it held my attention even if I found the characters and their motivations extremely frustrating. I mean, that’s true to life, right? People and their motivations really suck. This book, however, did not.
Published June 13, 2017 by Atria Books. ISBN 1501139231. Hardcover. 389 pages.