5 star, adult

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel eBook: Reid, Taylor Jenkins:  Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.



I am not normally easily convinced by reading biographical type stories – but this one had me hooked in very few pages. This novel follows an aspiring journalist, Monique, who lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview a now-aged Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo. Famous for a plethora of scandals and of course, her seven husbands, what is it that finally makes Evelyn open up about her past? And what secrets has she been hiding all these years?

Wow, 5 Drink Me Potions. I really didn’t think I would have many books in my life I was confident to rate at the top level. But honestly, I was so enraptured by this book I flipped through it in one day and absolutely could not put it down. The character Evelyn Hugo, is just so perfectly imperfect, exactly the type of character I absolutely adore. And this was a whole biographical retelling of her life story. Evelyn was an absolutely stunning character, so well written and intricate. I found myself heavily admiring her, and wondering if I would have the courage and smarts to do all that she did to protect herself and her loved ones.

When I say they go through her life story I really do mean her life story. After all, how else do you get through seven husbands? But from her childhood all the way to old age, the roller coaster of events that life takes her through is an absolutely wild and riveting ride, and all facets of her character are truly shown off. While she makes very morally ambiguous choices, and stretches the grey zone further than most people ever do, I found that despite her “bad” actions, I just couldn’t blame her for anything. I understood her motivations, and despite that not being a justification for her actions, it was completely understandable. I reckon that if I had the courage to reach for my goals the same way she did, I would have done the same things.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is well-researched and written, as we span the decades of 20th century Hollywood through the eyes of Evelyn. This is also beautifully tied back to the journalist Monique, and her own journey as she learns about Evelyn’s. I really haven’t been this moved by a book in a long while! The complications and difficulties of real life situations are illustrated so well, and demonstrates the necessity of morally grey actions and truly highlights the complexities of life. This is story of a girl’s humble beginning through her rise to fame and all the sacrifices she had to make to attain her goals and looking back, just what was it all worth in the end?

Obviously, it is just a personal opinion that this book (and mainly, this character) spoke to me so much, but if you love that 20th century Hollywood setting, and honestly one of the most clever and powerful heroines I have ever met (or read about), then give this book a shot!

Overall Recommendations:

Obviously, with such a rating, I absolutely recommend this account of Evelyn Hugo’s life. This novel truly explores the theme of dreams, love, and sacrifice, and how far one can push to reach for the stars (or stardom, in this case). You are really taken through a journey (7 husbands, can you imagine?) and as more and more of Evelyn’s character comes to light, this idea of being perfectly imperfect could not be more clear. If you wanna see a female protagonist truly tear up the Hollywood scene and seriously outsmart the patriarchal society, Evelyn Hugo’s your girl. I was absolutely entranced by her story, and hopefully you will be too!

adult

Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

scrappy little nobody -anna kendrickA collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).


4 Drink Me Potions


I think Scrappy Little Nobody would’ve been even better if I had listened to the audiobook with Anna Kendrick reading it to me with all the proper intonations. But even with my imperfect understanding of what should be highlighted in the novel, her imagined voice in my head managed to deliver the perfect balance of snark (which was the majority of the book) with a tiny bit of heart mixed in. Honest to the point of self-deprecating, Anna’s voice brings to life her own story that kept me mostly entertained with the stories she chose to share and her down-to-earth attitude about her life even with her current fame.

I’ve known Anna Kendrick since she first was cast in a very minor role in Twilight. Yes, that’s right. She was Jessica Stanley in that novel. And I only knew her name ’cause I stalked all the cast actors and actresses prior to the movie release. (And this may tell you how Twilight-freaky I was in my early teen years). But she’s become so much more well-known since then, and she very much deserves it. Scrappy Little Nobody details her beginnings and highlights how her life has changed (or barely changed) since then.

Her beginnings began in theatre and along with lovely little Anna pictures, this book describes a mostly ordinary childhood with the occasional trip to New York for her roles in theatre productions. This was one of the things that I felt lowered my rating a little. Although important, her beginnings dragged out the novel a little and it made it hard to continue reading straight through. But the one thing I loved about this section was the way she really set the tone for the rest of the novel. She wasn’t some special somebody, even in the beginning. Even after landing certain roles, like her first film credit, pride wasn’t a huge factor in her attitude towards friends and classmates at school. Of course it’s natural to want to share tidbits about the new thing in her life, like, hey, I went to the Sundance Film Festival last week and I met cool people, but none of her “luckiness” got to her head. In fact, she even stated,

“I sometimes think that I should have a sense of pride knowing that I’ve achieved more than my sixteen year old brain would have ever let me imagine, but mostly it’s just the opposite.
I think self-doubt is healthy. And having to fight for the thing you want doesn’t mean you deserve it any less.”

With her very down-to-earth attitude and her general Anna quirkiness, her stories about very regular things like BOYS (omg, that section!) and friends and her initial struggles in LA were made all that much more interesting. Add to that the very honest and sometimes very personal examples she included, it sometimes felt like Anna was sitting next to you telling you this story like you were her friend. Honestly, I think the audiobook would’ve made this 10x better.

But the best part was hearing her stories of being in Hollywood, post-Twilight and shooting in stardom with Pitch Perfect. From her very detailed imaginary holiday parties that she wished to host, to the surprising behind-the-scenes at award shows, and the craziness that is answering the same questions to a multitude of journalists all day, this book has it all. The stories at the end were rather quick and had a specific point, never quite dragging on too long. It was enough of a tidbit of each of these areas of her life that made it satisfactory (although to be honest, I would’ve loved hearing more about some of those experiences…like being rained on during that Twilight wedding scene).

She ended off in the last section of the book very aptly with her book title. And it reinforces her overall attitude about herself. She admires others whom she works with, either directors or actors, and never seems to portray anything but awe and gratitude in working with these different, accomplished people. But she’s also so relatable even to us normal folks. She’s not perfect. She has anxieties and fears about the next potential placement. She doesn’t always want to dress up and go out, but is in fact a fellow Netflix binge watcher and take-out eater for weeks at a time. I guess being famous and leading such high-profile roles on film makes her seem superior but in fact, she reminds us that she’s indeed just a scrappy little nobody (who likes to dole out fun advice like using a childhood psychotic picture to encourage persistence and hard work).

Overall Recommendation:
Scrappy Little Nobody was a fun, entertaining and very honest look into Anna Kendrick’s beginnings and journey into fame. With her quirky and fun attitude, her stories were made so much more interesting and it felt like she was personally sharing these things with you. Her down-to-earth tone made her seem very relatable, no matter if we haven’t experienced half the things she did. She never makes you feel like you’re her inferior, but rather that we’re all facing similar issues, although she has some comical advice to give on getting over some of these problems. Having no issue with making fun of herself, Scrappy Little Nobody was written with heart and if you’re a fan of hers, I would suggest you read it. She makes an autobiography fun to read if that’s not normally your thing.