I received an e-ARC for review on Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own.
The hook for this poetry collection is: “A lot can happen between the first sip of coffee and the last taste of whiskey.” And damn if that’s not true.
There is an enchanting juxtaposition between the early mornings with a strong cup of coffee jolting your senses and then the late evening with a glass of whiskey dulling your surroundings. That is where this poetry collection lives. Cyrus Parker discusses the darkest and most beautiful parts of humanity.
I particularly enjoyed the section on 4 o’clock in the morning, “this desperate longing to hear everything there is to be said before the hour is up because five o’clock is for the living…it’s for realizing that in order to live, you must first survive.”
Some poetry collections are more for the artist than for the reader, many of them actually. And I think as readers we sometimes forget that writers write for themselves. The write to be seen in the world, they write to cope, and they write to feel. Some collections aren’t meant for the satisfaction of others. I felt that in this collection. While I connected to many of the poems throughout, there were others where I felt Cyrus Parker speaking to the reader as if in an empty room. And that’s okay too.
I’ll leave this review with some words from this collection that meant a lot more to me than I expected them to:
“i make my morning coffee the long way; the slow way, to force myself to simply be.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid is an interview-based story focusing on the reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo. When Monique Grant, a relatively unknown magazine reporter, is requested to author the “tell all” exclusive on the life of Hollywood’s icon, no one is more shocked than Monique. Monique and Evelyn meet at Evelyn’s illustrious mansion and begin to unravel the many years of shocking tales and the scandalous seven marriages. The narrative slips into the past, in the point of view of Evelyn, growing up in a low-income house with an abusive father and how she escaped, made her way to Hollywood, and became a sensation.
Taylor Jenkins Reid discusses love and loss, weaving in stories of hard-won ambition and surprising friendships. As the narrative continues, the reader and Monique begin to understand why Evelyn chose Monique for her biography.
Reid’s plot allows the reader to slip seamlessly into Evelyn’s past, then come back to the present, learning simultaneously about Monique and Evelyn’s lives. Within the text, Reid is able to craft complex characters, convincing you that this faux-biography is about a real Hollywood sensation, and you just never knew about her. Reid’s characters are complicated and filled with life, her protagonists are built with morally-grey hearts, questionable motives, but their depth make them more human than most fictional constructions. Reid explains this herself within the voice of Evelyn Hugo, “It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.” While Evelyn says this of others, it can also be seen as her speaking of herself, her drive and motivations to get to where she wants to go.
As the story unfolds, the formatting of the book gives light to news and magazine excerpts within the biography of Evelyn Hugo that rests inside The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, these contain headlines and dates of publication, with scandalous tidbits imagined by gossip columns or celebrity magazines. Many of these titles also contain information between sections of the text, how a situation was perceived by the other world versus how Evelyn Hugo tells her tale, or heartbreaking news you hadn’t expected before turning the page. Another interesting observation is looking at the evolution of magazines and news corporations covering Evelyn Hugo as her story unfolds, they begin with small town newspapers and evolve into the worldwide trending Now This.
The interview-style format of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo lends itself well to its audiobook format, with three voice actors working in tandem to bring the voices of Evelyn, Monique, and the other characters to life.
Evelyn Hugo is a powerful woman, who knew what she wanted and went out and got it. Her story tells us that fame, money, and success won’t bring you everything you desire, Evelyn’s successes and failures bring with them their own unique struggles. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo may sound like it’s about the rich and famous, complaining about their lives and in pursuit of more accolades, but in reality, it’s the story of a girl from Hell’s Kitchen, New York who did everything she could to escape her life and get what she wanted, while dealing with the harsh realities of stardom and the people it brings into your life.
I give The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, five stars.
Reid’s most recent novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, came out in 2019 and is currently being adapted into a web-based miniseries, produced by Reese Witherspoon. Sam Claflin has recently been announced to play the main male-lead Billy Dunne.