Atria Books – Review : 5 stars
All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.
TW : brief homophobia and slurs, physical and emotional abuse, death, implied suicide.
I don’t even know how to start this review, other than “Holy crap, I loved this book.” Which, while it is true, probably isn’t the first thing that people would want to hear about it. So instead I will say these things – I waited too long to read this book, and I wish I could have read it sooner. And that it was absolutely, without question, one of my top ten books that I read in 2019.
First, let’s talk about the characters. Love them or hate them, the characters were incredibly well written. And some of them I really did hate, but you can still find empathy for them at other times, just as I have to assume the author intended. Although, obviously, my favorite characters were our two female leads. I love character driven novels in general, which is a genre this story definitely fits into. But even more than that, this is a story driven by two strong and fiery women – working together, learning about each other, and figuring out their way through the rest of the world around them. I also love that they almost seem like two different sides of a similar story – Monique, heartbroken and lost at the beginning of her career, but along the way finding the strength that she needs through Evelyn; Evelyn heartbroken at the end of a very long and difficult career, who finds Monique and decides that she is the final piece of the puzzle she is trying to finish.
Neither character is perfect, they are at times calculating, they are at times cruel, and they are definitely always stubborn, but I think that those things just make them that much more interesting to read about. And I would read even more of both of their stories.
While talking about imperfect characters, you would think that I would mention Evelyn’s seven husbands and all of their imperfections and all they did for her story. Right? I mean, that’s the title of the book. So we’re going to talk about them, right? Wrong. Evelyn got what she needed from each of her husbands, and had different experiences and feelings related to each one, but (with the exception of Harry) I don’t actually believe that they are as important to her story as they may seem. They weren’t lifting her, necessarily, they were giving her the opportunities to lift herself. This isn’t the story of her husbands or how they helped her form her life/career, it’s the story of Evelyn forging her own way and taking the world by storm, the timeline is simply being kept straight by noting who was there with her at each point.
Just a quick note on how the story is told and on the writing itself – the book switches between newspaper clippings (primarily from Evelyn’s past), Evelyn’s words when telling Monique her story, and Monique’s interactions with other people. It made for a very fast paced reading style, because the switching narrators and points of view was very interesting, and I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next.
The last thing that I will touch on is the setting. This story is partially set in modern day New York (the portions of the book from Monique’s perspective) and partially set in the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. I’m just going to go ahead and say it – I love stories set in Old Hollywood. I do. If I could read books and novels with that setting for the rest of my life, I would. What can I say, other than the political issues and a few (read: a lot) of the other issues of the time, I may have thrived in it. So the setting only helped to make me love this book and Evelyn’s story even more.
Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to the folks around me who haven’t read it yet, and already have on several occasions. I tore through this book, because I had to know what happened next and what the next part of Evelyn’s fierce saga would be. The night that I finished it I stayed up far past my bedtime, because I needed to know how it would all end for Evelyn.
Although, I will say that I maybe wouldn’t suggest finishing it alone in the middle of the night. The last 100 pages or so slightly destroyed me. I have a lot of feelings, okay? Geez.