Evelyn Hugo was a bombshell movie star in the 1950s and 60s whose career as a celebrity carried on past her prime as an actress. An amalgam of real-life stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, and bits of pieces of others, Evelyn Hugo used her physical attributes and street smarts to get to the top, stay on top (mostly), and get back on top when she fell into decline.
A master manipulator who made no bones about it, she knew how to use everyone around her to get her way -- producers, directors, fellow actors, Hollywood media, even neighbors, and most especially her husbands. And to keep her secrets. Even in her last days, in the present day, when she has recused herself from the limelight, Evelyn manipulates the media to reveal her most closely held secrets.
This is without question a fun book. If you like movies, especially the glamorous era in which Evelyn Hugo rose to stardom, this is manna from heaven. You'll be guessing throughout the proceedings as to who Evelyn represents in real life, who the people around her might have been in real life. And you'll even get some thematic depth on a couple of currently relevant topics in addition to the potboiler of a plot.
For me personally, the story faltered slightly in two ways. After a flawless first two-thirds, the last third grew repetitive, as Evelyn started making the same mistakes again. The first four or five husbands were (collectively) a great story, the last couple-three husbands were kind of a shrug. The final reveal perks things up again, but by then the book is just about over.
The other problem is the very thematic depth that makes the book more than just a mindless beach read. In the two main areas of interest (not going to give them away), I was nagged by how Evelyn dealt with them -- one by hiding her her in the sand to protect her career, the other by taking advantage of a situation that many would find heinous to further her fortunes. In addition, there were prominent issues of the era, within the film business and in the world at large, that are virtually ignored.
But that's probably just me -- if you like this kind of thing, you'll love this.
The only thing about this book that didn't ring true was the fact it was fiction. It was very interesting from beginning to end. It has a real kicker at the end. You'll never see it coming. It's worth more than one listen.
Very complicated character with many faults & bad traits yet you can't help but love & feel sorry for her at the same time.
Shed a few tears during the course of the story.....
First time I've read this author but not the last!