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

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Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid 
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: June 13, 2017 
Book Length:  388 pages 
Publisher: Atria Books
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But 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.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Review:

I HAD THIS ON MY TBR FOR SO LONG, WHY DIDN’T I PICK IT UP SOONER?! IT WAS AMAZING.

This was one of the most unique and interesting stories I have ever read. I have always been fascinated by Old Hollywood and its evolution, and getting to experience it through the life of this character was riveting.

Evelyn Hugo, blonde bombshell and sex symbol beginning her rise to fame in the 1950s, was a go getter; she knew that she wanted to be a star and she did everything in her power to make it a reality– even if that meant using her physical assets to get her there on more than one occasion.

The thing about Evelyn was that she had a way of making people feel special just by getting the chance to be in the same room as her and she used it to her advantage. She was a smart, strong woman who didn’t take no for an answer; she was a woman ahead of her time. The truth is, I was enamoured by this person and no matter what awful things she did to the people she loved, I still really liked her. Yes she was a famous person with money and looks, but she wasn’t without flaw which really attracted me to her character. Although she is fictional, she felt so real to me.

As you get to go through the amazing, lavish life of Evelyn Hugo, you begin to realize that it is not without trial, tribulation and heartache. There are some beautiful characters in this book, one of which being Harry Cameron. Everyone needs a best friend like Harry in their life; I think he was my favourite. I’m still really sad this is over because I’m just thinking about how I will never read about another character that compares to him.

The love story in this was really beautiful as well, and from the moment I found out for sure what was going on, I was rooting for everything to work out for them. In addition, I enjoyed reading the representations of love and intimacy in general. Love and sex mean different things to different people in different circumstances, and I think it was shown very well from every angle.

I think I can finally say that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favourite fiction authors and I’m really excited to read her other books. I’m hoping this gets made into a movie one day because I have a feeling it could be so amazing on the big screen!


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Review// One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Series: Standalone
Genre: Classic
Release Date: June 5, 1967 
Book Length: 429 pages 
Publisher: Harper Perennial 
Modern Classics
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”

My Review:

In a nutshell, this story is about the Buendía family who founded a remote town called Macondo, where they have very limited access to the outside world except with nomadic gypsies who bring with them magical inventions. The story takes you through multiple generations of this family and all their trials and tribulations spanning over one hundred years, beginning somewhere in the 1800s.

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy finishing my books in a few days’ time. One Hundred Years of Solitude took me about one hundred years (aka 2 weeks) to read, but it was the most enjoyable experience. This is not something I would recommend speeding through; the magical realism gives normalcy to the delusions of the world in which Gabriel Garcia Marquez created in Macondo and it is almost necessary to drift through slowly to take it all in. In addition, many of the characters have the same or similar names. There is a family tree at the beginning of the book that you will have to reference often to keep track of who is who which is very helpful, but I don’t think it would be as enjoyable as an audiobook as you can get mixed up easily and every chapter is quite heavy.

It was very interesting to go through the lives of these characters, I started to feel like a part of their crazy family. Although a work of fiction, some of the events that took place in this novel directly parallel actual political historic events that took place in Columbia at the time. I find history extremely fascinating, so I was loving how it was intertwined with all the magical aspects. The ending also blew me away and I was very impressed with how it all came together. Do I think this book is for everyone? No. I can see why people wouldn’t like it. But do I think it’s worth trying? 100%. If you can appreciate it for what it is, you are in for a really magical experience.

Catherine


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Review// Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

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Author: Viktor E. Frankl
Series: Standalone
Genre: Nonfiction
Release Date: June 1, 2006 
(first published in 1946)
Book Length: 188 pages 
Publisher: Beacon Press
Review: 3.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

My Review:

This year, I have been really wanting to branch out in my novel choices, especially trying to get into more nonfiction and philosophy. What better way to do that than with a book that encompasses both?

This book was about the author’s experience in the concentration camps and how maintaining his optimistic attitude and thinking about his purpose in life, being the thought of seeing his wife and family again, got him through the horrible experience. He survived four years in four different concentration camps; afterwards, he developed a theory based on the search for meaning called logotherapy. Its basic premise is that people find meaning in their lives through the pursuit of purpose. For Frankl, his purpose of the prospect of seeing his pregnant wife again kept him going.

It was really sad to read about some of the stories he shared of his and others’ experiences in the camps. Something that I did not know was how high the suicide rates were; I guess they kind of shielded that aspect from us in school and I never really gave it much additional thought. Once people stopped finding meaning in their lives and thinking they had nothing to live for, they would not see the purpose of going on. I truly can not even imagine having to go through the horrors that Frankl faced, let alone keeping alive meaning and purpose in the process. This was a very inspiring, beautiful, and eyeopening book and I’m glad I chose to pick it up, especially because I learned a lot about myself and the world from it.


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On This Day In Literary History #4

June 12

1892: Djuna Barnes is Born

  • Best known for her book Nightwood (1937), she was an influential American author in the Modernist movement.
  • Nightwood is about a woman who leaves her husband for one woman, and then another, and destroys everyone she loves in the process.

“Everything we can’t bear in this world, some day we find in one person, and love it all at once.”
― Djuna BarnesNightwood

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1942Anne Frank is Gifted a Diary For Her 13th Birthday

  • The first entry of her diary is only two days later, and less than a month after that on July 6, 1942, her family went into hiding from the Nazi’s.
  • On September 2, 1944, Anne Frank was sent to Auschwitz. Later, she was sent to another concentration camp called Belsen in Northern Germany.
  • On March 12, 1945 at age 15, she died of a disease called typhus while in the concentration camp.
  • On June 25, 1947, the first version of her diary was published in The Netherlands.

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1968: Marty McFly is Born

  • Is he a book character per se? No. However, there is a book out based on the movie Back to the Future, so to me this counts!

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Thank you for reading and I hope everyone has a great day!

Catherine


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Young Adult Genre: A History (1800s)

During a time when Beethoven was composing his latest masterpiece, Van Gogh was brushing his final stroke on an impressionist painting, and Harriet Wilson was the first African-American of either gender publishing a novel in North America, what was the status of the young adult reading genre?

According to Wikipedia, the YA genre is targeted at youth ages 12-18. However, during the 1800’s, the genre was not at all defined as it is today—there was no existing one being marketed (crazy to think about because I basically live in that section now). This meant that its target audience was left to read anything they liked, without really having a genre designated for them.

Some novels you could find young adults poring over included:

Pride and Prejudice; and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

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Dracula by Bram Stoker; and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll; and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Some conclusions that I drew from the novels I found were that many of them could be categorized as either Romance, Gothic Fiction, Fairy Tale, or Adventure. Although young adults did not have their designated genre, the long list of popular novels from the 19th century include a plethora of what we would call in today’s world, ‘The Classics’. The 1800’s was no where near the pinnacle of young adult literature, but it set the stage for the genre to emerge as these novels remain near and dear to the hearts of many over one hundred years later.

I have always wondered what the status of my favourite genre was throughout the course of time, and to be honest it is not surprising that it was virtually non-existent as its own separate one during the 1800’s. It’s amazing that still a lot of these titles are cherished by so many people and it got me wondering about how young adult as a fraction of literature continued to develop into what we know it as today.

Catherine


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