Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
American release date: May 29, 2018
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBTQ Romance/400 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Monique Grant had high hopes when she accepted the position of staff writer at Vivant magazine, thinking this would be her springboard to writing fame. But so far, she hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed with great opportunities for thoughtful articles. Still reeling from her husband David’s departure and divorce, she is surprised to be called into her boss Franky’s office one day to receive a new assignment. Turns out that well-known actress Evelyn Hugo, who has been around forever and is still a very beautiful woman, is donating some of her gowns for a charity auction and is willing to be interviewed regarding the donation. What is surprising about this is that Ms. Hugo has been reclusive for a very long time. Infamous as much for having been married seven times as for her acting career, talking to her would be a feather in any journalist’s cap. So why is she telling Vivant she wants to talk to Monique Grant and only Monique Grant? Monique is completely baffled herself, as she has no ties with the actress, has never met her. The only answer she can get is that the actress read her article about the right-to-die and was impressed. Her employer tried to replace her with someone else, but Hugo was adamant – Monique or no one. So Monique goes off to meet the woman and see what she can find out, although what is there to say about some dresses?
But not everything is as it appears to be. In fact, quite the contrary. At their first meeting, Evelyn discloses that this has nothing to do with dresses or the auction, but that she wants Monique to write her biography. Not ghost write it, to have Evelyn Hugo’s name slapped on it, but actually write it. Furthermore, Monique is going to sell it to the highest bidder (and there will be many of those, Evelyn assures her), because Evelyn won’t be around for much longer, and Monique is to keep all the royalties for herself. ALL THE ROYALTIES FOR HERSELF!
What’s the catch?
Monique is in disbelief, but Evelyn is adamant. She won’t tell Monique why, at least right now, but she assures her that she will find out the truth when the time is right… and she will hate Evelyn for it. How can a girl say no to such an offer? But she can’t let Vivant know what is going on, she has to string them along thinking she’s doing the piece about the dresses, because a girl has to eat, right? While in reality Evelyn is telling her life story, about each and every husband and her meteoric career, while also answering the question – who was her greatest love? This book could set Monique up for life easily.
At first I thought this was just about a Elizabeth Taylor-like actress who bagged and tagged multiple husbands while living the grand life. But I realized early on that it was so much more. It’s an amazing story of an amazing woman and her journey through life – her loves, her husbands, her career. Certainly not perfect, she made mistakes and she did what she had to. But it’s an epic tale. It’s also Monique’s tale, her desire to hear and tell this story. And to learn its relevance to herself, even as she battles her own self-doubts and problems. I was so sorry to see this story end, but in a very satisfying way. Evelyn Hugo wasn’t free to love as she wished, born into an era which would never allow that to happen. How different things would have been if she’d come along now.
I will definitely have to look for more books by this author.