Review Time: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

As you may remember, pretty much everyone in my life was thrilled that I put my murder-mystery streak on hold for a week to dive into something new. Hey… I love a good who-dun-it. I will say, though, that I wasn’t sad to break the streak with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. It promised to be gossipy and dramatic — and it definitely delivered. But what I wasn’t really ready for what the depth of the story and the light it shone on the lives of the people we love to watch on screen.

Evelyn Hugo was Hollywood’s “It” star in her heyday. She was talented and smart and sexy. Everyone wanted a piece of her. The final piece, though, would be her memoir, shared on her own terms. Monique Grant, a rather inexperienced journalist, is stunned when she gets word that THE Evelyn Hugo wants her to write the coveted memoir. She knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for her and she’s going to make the most out of it.

As Monique already knows, Evelyn’s had an interesting (and gossip-worthy) life. Born to a poor family in Hell’s Kitchen, she rose above her neighborhood (and terrible father) to forge a path for herself, even if it meant trading a few things on the way to Hollywood stardom. As Monique gets to know the real Evelyn Hugo, a picture begins to emerge of a woman who did what she had to do, and hid what she had to hide, to make a name for herself.

Evelyn knows that the real question her fans want answered is which husband she considered to be her “true love.” So she starts at the beginning, from her road trip out to Hollywood to her abusive first husband and continues through them all one at a time, painting a portrait of a woman with unlimited depth, cunning ambition and unimaginable strength. By the end of Evelyn’s story, she reveals the two things she’s held closest to her heart: which husband was her true love and why she chose Monique to write her story. And the answers to both questions with break your heart. Mine did.

My favorite scene: One of Evelyn’s seven husbands was the kind-hearted Hollywood staple Harry Cameron and their love story is the one that I haven’t been able to forget. Their lives are glamorous — and not without pain — but they manage to navigate them in a way that makes you root for them, despite everything you know (and by this point, you know a lot). Love you, Evelyn. And Harry too.

Grade: ★★★★★

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To Read: August Edition

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This summer has FLOWN by. Like… Where did it go? I still have a hard time remembering the seasonal timeline in Chicago because where I come from, there is no fall. It’s just HOT and then a little less hot. But the word on the street is that fall is just around the corner (like a month away!) and I’m just not ready. Well… Actually I might be ready. After close to 30 years of HOT ALL THE TIME, I welcome cool air with open arms. We moved at the beginning of the month and I finally have a back porch and I’m so excited to spend time out there with my coffee (read: wine) and my books and my cozy blankets. Here are the books I’ll be diving into this month–is boxed wine still taboo? BRING ON THE FALL.

Since We Fell: This one is a Book of the Month club read that I’m super excited about diving in to. Dennis Lehane is the author of the lesser known titles (lolz) Mystic River and Shutter Island. While Lehane might not be a household name yet (lolz again), I’m about his twisted style and I can’t wait to see what his new book has in store.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things: A Booklist starred review called this book “dark and compelling … unputdownable.” Put a fork in me right now Captain, I’m done. This thriller promises to be weird and tense, with a little bit of WTF mixed in. Gimme.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: This one is another Book of the Month club find and I’m super excited about it because IT’S NOT A MURDER MYSTERY! My boyfriend is so happy I’m reading something other than a twisty, murdery thriller! Evelyn Hugo is the most famous actress on the planet. As she recovers from the death of her only daughter, she decides she wants to finally talk about what everyone wants to know — how she came to be married seven different times. It’s Hollywood and gossip and old school glamour and I love it already.

The River at Night: A freak accident leaves four women stranded in the wilderness with no guide, no map and no way home. All hope is lost until they stumble onto a camp that can provide them shelter and communication with the outside world. Or can it? Have the women stumbled into a place that can save them or a place that will end them once and for all? My spine is tingly already.

Happy reading (and wine-ing!)