I’m on vacation for the next two weeks, which means I’ll be visiting some bookstores, so I need to make a dent in the pile of books I already own! I’ve had all three of these on my TBR since before they were published, and they did not disappoint.
Three separate stories make up this thriller, and come together in the end to reveal a complex, 20+ year old mystery. There’s Alice, a struggling single mom, who finds a man alone on a beach at night, unable to remember who he is or where he came from. Then there’s Lily, a newlywed whose husband has gone missing. The third set of characters, Gray and Kirsty, are teenagers vacationing with their family in 1993, when they meet Mark, a handsome and charismatic young man with a dark personality.
I don’t want to summarize the plot too much and give anything away. I really enjoyed how everything unfolded as the story went on. The book is set in several towns in the U.K., which is another reason I liked it. Some of the events were not very realistic, but if you can suspend belief and just go with it, this is a very enjoyable book.
Evelyn Hugo was an Oscar winning movie star, beautiful, vivacious, and married seven times over the course of her life. Now in her eighties, Evelyn has decided to auction off some of the gowns she wore to movie premieres and awards, in order to raise money for charity. She’s agreed to a rare and much sought after interview about this fundraiser with the popular magazine Vivant. This is the story every magazine wants and Vivant is ready to send one of their top reporters to the interview, but Evelyn will only speak to Monique Grant. Monique hasn’t been at the magazine very long, hasn’t accomplished much in her professional life yet actually. She’s also reeling from a recent separation from her husband. No one has any idea why Evelyn is insisting that Monique interview her. However, Evelyn Hugo is used to getting what she wants, so she gets Monique. As the two women get to know each other, and Evelyn starts telling Monique her story, it becomes clear that there is more to Evelyn that the public knows, and that she and Monique have a tragic connection to each other.
I found Evelyn to be a fascinating character. She was not always a nice person, but she knew what she wanted, and how to get it. She was willing to do just about anything to accomplish her professional and personal goals. Evelyn’s story is revealed in alternating chapters with Monique’s present day life, and we don’t find out how they are connected until the very end. This is my favorite kind of summer read – fast paced, with complex characters who are revealed one layer at a time, until you have a complete picture of the person the author is trying to create.
This book is non-fiction, a true crime tale of a series of arsons in Accomack County, VA, during a 6 month period in 2012-2013. Accomack County is a poor, rural area, and most of the fires were set at abandoned buildings. The police were stumped as to who was behind this crime spree, and even the federal investigators, criminal profilers, and amateur vigilantes couldn’t seem to catch the person or people responsible.
From the beginning of the book, the reader knows who started all the fires. The book follows the timeline of events from the first fire to the arrest and trials of the arsonists, while interspersing chapters that fill in the backstory of the county and the people living there. The book reminded me a bit of Hillbilly Elegy, although I think this was more of a page turner. Even though you know who started the fires, you want to keep reading to figure out why they did it, and what happened to them afterwards. If you’re picky about your non-fiction, like I am, this is one that will keep your interest.
That’s all for this week. Let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments below!