There have been very few books I’ve read that have managed to make me feel as completely enraptured in its words the way this book has done. Within the first few pages, I could tell this book was going to be something special to me and there wasn’t a single page that went against that assumption. While I will try to refrain from any spoilers, I do believe I should issue one content warning. There is mention of domestic violence as well as adult content in the novel, so please read with that in mind.
The story is about Evelyn Hugo. She’s an actress whose career has spanned far and wide since the 50s. She recruits a woman named Monique who is in her mid-30s and has been working for a magazine to help her write the novel of her life’s story. Through this story Evelyn is finally able to clear her chest of all the things she has ever done, all the marriages she’s ever had, all the mistakes she’s ever made. She purges herself to us and it is absolutely beautiful, it feels real and raw. It had me wondering if there was a chance that maybe the story was real, even just a little bit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, there were inspirations of course but nobody could ever truly be a real-life Evelyn Hugo.
The formatting of the book was very interesting. There were moments when it was more of a memoir or biography, and there were moments when it was very traditional in a novel’s format. The story itself was very original and utterly captivating. Honestly, I am at such a loss for words to describe exactly just why I loved it so much. I think part of the reason is that it appeals to that feeling of wonder we all get from time to time. That feeling when you look at someone and you realize they have a life just as meaningful and complex as your own but that you will never be able to experience it the same way they do. You’re a stranger peering in the window just for a moment, but this book allows you in even if it’s an entry into the life of a fictional character.
For a few hundred pages we’re allowed into the complicated life of a woman whose story has only ever been told through the headlines of gossip magazines. She’s able to finally tell her side, the things she did and sacrifices she made to get the life she wanted and the heartbreak she suffered because of and in spite of it. It was inspirational in ways. It was simple and yet so complex. But most importantly a reminder to make the most out of the moment you have with the people you love.
The story of Evelyn Hugo is multifaceted and complex and it was genuinely one of the best books I’ve ever read. Overall I give it a 10/10.