Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Compelling (adj.): evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.
I've used this word in many of my book reviews. But now, I'm compelled (ironically) to go back and remove it from my previous reviews, because this novel has set a new benchmark for this word's literary meaning and definition.
I'm the type of reader who usually gets lured into a book by some attractive plot point or probing question. And while both of these elements find their way into the narrative over the course of this story, it's not what initially caught my attention. It was the two main characters, Monique and Evelyn.
They are different yet so much alike, and I found myself equally enamored with both POVs in this novel. Ms. Reid creates a uniquely distinctive voice for each of these women. Both begin on seemingly opposite ends of the emotional spectrum but find their way, albeit indirectly, to a meeting place in the middle where neither seems able to move forward without the other.
I didn't care what happened next. I wasn't hanging on discovering an inevitable plot twist or dissecting the thoughts and opinions of Monique and Evelyn. I simply relished being in their presence, experiencing the private life that straddled glamorous and monotonous in a, you guessed it, compelling way. I was lost inside these characters and their world, feeling the elation and pain with every well-crafted word from the author.
In hindsight, I realize things never made sense… until they did. But again, it didn't matter. And when that moment of realization struck me, when the truth about both individual's lives became apparent, all those deep emotions experienced over the course of the novel intensified ten times over, just as the characters did. It's another element of the story that Ms. Reid has captured so well through her engaging writing style.
This is not my typical lighthearted romantic read. There are deep and controversial topics that keep the reader thinking while considering their own stance on societal issues and norms. And as reading often does, it has helped shape my desire to work more of these thought-provoking aspects into my own writing. While there is language and sexual undertones to much of this novel, it is done in a respectful manner that adds to the tone and depth of the story instead of detracting from it.
The novel itself finished in a satisfying manner. But to be honest, as a selfish reader and as strange as it sounds, I wish that Evelyn Hugo had 14 husbands, because I could have continued reading ad infinitum about these two characters and their story. For now, I'll have to settle (gratefully) for the backlist of other offerings from this author.
If you're looking for a story that helps to find yourself amidst the chaos of everyday life, Evelyn Hugo and Monique Grant, through the compelling storytelling prowess of Ms. Reid, might just give you a peek behind the curtain you hadn't thought to look behind.
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️
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