The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The lives of classic movie actresses and actors have always piqued my interest. How they lived their lives, their scandalous affairs(if they actually had any), and what they did to become an icon are just a few of the things that I always want to know. Media coverage of both classic film stars and modern film stars seldom reveal the whole truth and as a result, fans usually have to wait until after the star’s death to learn the full truth, if that. Shelving a cart of new books one day, I stumbled upon The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The cover immediately captured my interest as the woman looked like she could have been a classic movie star. Reading the blurb proved that she was and I knew I needed to read this book.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the gripping tale of Evelyn Hugo, an adored movie icon. Evelyn’s story is heart-wrenching and pure psychological romance fiction as readers are drawn into Evelyn’s stunningly glamorous world. With her popularity blossoming in the 1950s when she made her way to Los Angeles, Evelyn dominated the Hollywood scene in her relentless and ruthless rise to the top of the movie industry. Evelyn always knew what she wanted and was not afraid to use her body or the people around her to get it. Living in the public eye was a price she paid for being famous, but Evelyn still managed to keep secrets from the public and some of her closest friends that they never would have guessed.

After her decision to leave the Hollywood and show business in general in the late 80s, Evelyn became a recluse. She was never seen out, declined to sit down for interviews, and pictures of an aging Evelyn were almost non-existent. When she reaches out and contacts an unknown magazine reporter named Monique Grant to interview her, everyone in the journalism community is shocked. Why would Evelyn choose Monique to reveal her scandalous and glamorous life? What makes her so special? Why is Evelyn choosing to do this now? Monique has her own issues. She’s not exactly the number one journalist in the world, let alone her city or even her area of expertise. She’s not even 100% happy with where she is working as her career has stalled. Monique’s personal life is just as messy. Her husband left her just five weeks prior and Monique is still reeling.

Recognizing the Evelyn Hugo interview as the potential major career boost that she desperately needs, Monique decides she will do whatever it takes to make this a success and sits down with Evelyn. It becomes clear right off the bat that Evelyn has ulterior motives and it’s left to Monique to figure those out. Quickly Monique becomes wrapped up in the story of Evelyn’s life from her entrance to Los Angeles in the 1950s and the seven husbands she had before she retired in the late 80s. As Evelyn weaves her life’s story for Monique, she discovers that Evelyn’s ruthless ambition led her to some slightly questionable, but nevertheless sustaining, friendships and a major forbidden love that had the ability to potentially ruin Evelyn’s career. Evelyn’s professional and personal lives are forever linked together. As Monique formulates Evelyn’s story, she realizes Evelyn never does anything without having a reason. Monique begins worrying why Evelyn chose her to write her story and when Evelyn’s story finally reaches the present, Monique realizes that she and Evelyn are connected in a truly tragic and life-changing way.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would. Multiple storylines were at play throughout the novel and I found myself thoroughly engrossed in each one. The vivid descriptions of Evelyn’s life as she navigated the rocky waters of fame and her personal life were so well depicted that I found myself believing for a bit that she was a real person. I wanted to learn even more about Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands. She is fascinating. Highly recommended.

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower-450Actress Drew Barrymore is anything but conventional.  So it comes to no surprise that her book is unconventional as well. Instead of writing a memoir, Drew wrote a book of stories of her life; stories that she wanted to revisit and share with the world.  And her stories are not placed in chronological order.  One story will be about being a mother, the next one she talks about her time on the set of E.T.  As Ms. Barrymore writes herself in the preface, “This is a book you can dip into and read when you want”.  And it truly is.  You could put Wildflower down and not read it for awhile, but come across it again and be delighted with the stories.  Or, you could binge read Wildflower and learn more about Drew Barrymore.  The choice is really up to you.  Either way, this biography truly is a book of stories that are very fun to read.

I chose to listen to Wildflower on a recent roadtrip.  Drew narrates the book herself and I loved listening to her read.  My favorite part may have been when she was describing her childhood after filming E.T.  Her mother decided to move to “the Valley” and Drew blames her mother for giving her the “Valley Girl” voice that she cannot seem to get rid of.  This happens early in the book, so for the rest of the duration of the audiobook, I would catch myself laughing at her “Valley Girl” voice when she said certain phrases.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Drew Barrymore read (and sometimes scream and sometimes laugh) her own book.

Drew Barrymore has certainly led an interesting life.  She started acting when she was a toddler and describes going on auditions as a child and meeting Steven Spielberg.  Drew talks about legally separating herself from her mother when she was a teenager.  She discusses being a Barrymore and her relationship with her father.  She talks about travelling as a teenager.  Drew discusses producing and starring in movies.  And she discusses being a mother. Perhaps the sweetest story in the book is towards the end.  Drew discusses meeting her husband’s parents, Arie and Coco and how she hit the “In-Law Jackpot”.  She has such a good relationship with her in-laws that she asked Arie to walk her down the aisle and for Coco to walk in with her husband. It is quite clear that the theme of the book Wildflower is Drew Barrymore’s relationships with other people; her family, her friends, her co-stars, and the people that have touched her life.