So, you devoured The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and you’ve been searching for something similar? Maybe you loved the dynamic between Evelyn and Monique, the aspect of two young women trying to prove themselves. Or perhaps you were obsessed with the love story or the high-profile scandals that surrounded the fictional Evelyn’s life? Whichever elements made it one of your favorite reads, here are ten great books to check out next!
Ambition and secrets are central to Evelyn Hugo’s story, so THE GILDED YEARS is a great book to start next—a historical novel based on Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar College in the 1890s by passing as a white woman. Even as a little girl, Anita dreamed of graduating from Vassar College and achieving a better life for herself and her family. With the blessing of her parents, she has so far passed as a white student, keeping her distance from her classmates—until she ends up living with a young woman from one of New York’s wealthiest families. Lottie brings Anita into her elite world, and she begins a romance with a Harvard student. But the closer Anita and Lottie become, the harder it is to keep the secret, especially when Lottie becomes obsessed with Anita’s brother, Frederick. Set during the Gilded Age, this novel is filled with determination, secrets, and betrayal while also introducing many people to the true story of Vassar’s first black student.
Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.
Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.
Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.
If one of your favorite aspects of EVELYN HUGO was the drama of Evelyn’s eccentric life and her final tell-all moment, then you might want to check out the light and humorous ISABEL’S BED by Elinor Lipman. Both of these stories feature a down-on-their-luck writer and an older woman who is finally ready to tell the world her story, sordid bits and all! Harriet Mahoney is unpublished and unlucky in love when she agrees to escape New York and ghostwrite Isabel Krug’s biography. Harriet is shocked to learn about Isabel’s scandalous and dramatic life, but perhaps she’s a little inspired too. Isabel isn’t afraid to live life as an experience, no matter how absurd, which might just be what Harriet needs to write.
When Harriet Mahoney first sees it, Isabel Krug's bed is covered with sheared sheep and littered with celebrity biographies. Unpublished, fortyish, and recently jilted, Harriet has fled Manhattan for Isabel's loudly elegant Cape Cod retreat, where she will ghostwrite The Isabel Krug Story, based on the sexy blond's scandalous tabloid past. Unusually "talented" in the man department ("I give lessons"), Isabel revamps and inspires Harriet as they gear up to tell all, including the tangled history Isabel shares with her odd lodger, Costas. Life according to Isabel is a nonstop soap opera extravaganza, an experience to be swallowed whole -- and the attitude is catching....
Perhaps you need another historical fiction romance in your life with dual timelines and characters with opulent lifestyles after delving into the life of Evelyn Hugo. If so, pick up a copy of NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA. Set in Cuba in 1958 and 2017, this is such a fun romance! Elisa Perez is the nineteen-year-old daughter of a sugar baron. Growing up among Cuba’s wealthy elite, she’s been shielded from politics and the rising unrest, until she falls in love with a revolutionary. Now Elise has passed away and she’s asked her granddaughter, Marisol, to scatter her ashes in Cuba. Marisol always loved hearing her grandmother’s incredible and romantic tales of Cuba against an uneasy political background. Marisol arrives in Havana, where she learns even more about her family than she could have imagined and ends up falling for a man who is definitely hiding something. Marisol will have to learn from her grandmother’s past if she is to determine her own future.
Again, if you love dual timelines with strong female characters and the reveal of a mysterious past, then BEFORE I MET YOU is another excellent pick! Betty has put her life on hold to care for her grandmother Arlette in Guernsey. But when Arlette passes away and a stranger named Clara Pickle is named in her grandmother’s will, Betty sets out on an adventure of her own and soon finds herself in Soho in the 1990s, not fully ready for the journey before her. However, the story is also told from Arlette’s point of view as a young woman in London in the 1920s, then something so horrible happens that it sends her running back to her childhood home, where she stays until the end of her life. Betty quickly realizes that finding Clara is not going to be as easy as she had hoped, but as she explores the city, she learns more about her grandmother. Eventually, she finds a man who was once very close to Arlette. Mixed with both Betty’s and Arlette’s ambitious quest for happiness is the engaging mystery of who is Clara and what really happened to Arlette in London all those years ago.
After her grandmother Arlette’s death, Betty is finally ready to begin her life. She had forfeited university, parties, boyfriends, summer jobs—all the usual preoccupations of a woman her age—in order to care for Arlette in their dilapidated, albeit charming home on the English island of Guernsey. Her will included a beneficiary unknown to Betty and her family, a woman named Clara Pickle who presumably could be found at a London address. Now, having landed on a rather shabby street corner in ’90s Soho, Betty is determined to find the mysterious Clara. She’s ready for whatever life has to throw her way. Or so she thinks . . .
Evelyn Hugo jumps off the page; she’s a character that stays with you and feels real. If that’s one of your favorite parts, then you are going to fall in love with Opal from THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV. Opal is more than a force to be reckoned with. This strong, incredible woman is fiercely independent and determined to become a star. So, when Neville, a British singer/songwriter sees her perform at a bar in Detroit in the 1970s and asks her to make a rock album with him, she eagerly accepts. Just when Opal and Nev are finding their audience, the record label signs a rival band that proudly displays the Confederate flag during an event. Opal’s immediate protest is met with violence that changes the course of her career and impacts her life forever. Now in 2016, Opal and Nev are rumored to be reuniting, and music journalist Sunny Shelton wants the scoop. Sunny is pleasantly surprised when Opal agrees to be interviewed. Sunny thinks she already knows everything there is to know about the duo, but as the story progresses new allegations come to light that could change everything again. THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV is absolutely beautiful and completely unforgettable. You won’t just wish Opal were real, but you’ll feel as if she was.
An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.
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“Feels truer and more mesmerizing than some true stories. It’s a packed time capsule that doubles as a stick of dynamite.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
There is no denying that people love a good scandal. Evelyn has her fair share of scandal, so if you’re looking for that but x10 in a completely fun roller-coaster read, then HOLLYWOOD WIVES is for you. Sexy and full of Hollywood magic, this novel follows three wives as they enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous thanks to the star power of their husbands. Elaine is determined to help get her husband’s fading acting career back on track. Meanwhile, Angel is a beautiful and wholesome young woman married to a hot actor, attempting to navigate the corrupted men around her. And then there’s Montana, stunning and ambitious, she’s determined to make a name for herself behind the camera. HOLLYWOOD WIVES is just pure entertainment!
Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Jackie Collins’s Hollywood Wives with this gorgeous special edition, the first title in the iconic Hollywood series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of sexy stories” (Daily Mirror, London).
They’re a privileged breed—glamorous, glossy, and demanding. When life is this fast, there are no guarantees. Status is everything, and you’re only ever as popular as your husband’s latest box-office hit.
Elaine Conti: Bronx girl turned Hollywood hostess, determined to relaunch her husband’s fading acting career back into orbit.
Angel Hudson: Married to a hot young actor and an innocent beauty prey to Hollywood’s most unscrupulous men.
Montana Grey: Gorgeous renegade, ambitiously driven to succeed in the male-dominated world on the other side of the camera.
Hollywood Wives is a scorching blockbuster that exposes the glittering microcosm that is Beverly Hills before racing to a gripping and unexpected climax. Captivating, fun, and deliciously sexy, this classic is its own version of Hollywood magic.
GONZO GIRL is captivating and intense, especially when you realize it is based on Pietra’s real-life experience working as an assistant for Hunter S. Thompson. Like EVELYN HUGO, GONZO is full of ambition with a young female character who will do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true, but instead of sharing the details of a celebrity’s life, Pietra expands on her personal experience of what it was like to live with Thompson for a while, digging into all the messy, drug-fueled moments. Alley Russo is determined to make it in the brutal world of publishing in New York. The only problem? So is everyone else, and she lacks the connections to break in. So she takes an unpaid internship at a magazine and bartends to pay her rent—and when an assistant opportunity for the infamous Walker Reade opens up—she doesn’t hesitate. She is determined to get this job and use it to push her manuscript in front of an editor. But the interview process, if you can even call it that, is a little unusual. Alley must survive a trial period involving guns, drugs, verbal abuse, and so much more before she is finally given the position. Now at a compound in Colorado, Alley gently encourages Walker to finish his novel one painstaking page at a time all the while battling his procrastination, alcoholism, drug use, abuse, and casual gunplay. The longer the novel takes to finish, the more the job weighs on her. Perhaps this was not the stepping-stone into publishing that Alley had hoped for? If Walker never finishes this book, she may be doomed.
Read with a Wild Turkey on the Rocks
This debut novel by Cheryl Della Pietra was inspired by her time as Hunter S. Thompson’s assistant. So it’s only right that we would pair it with one of his favorite beverages, Wild Turkey on the rocks. GONZO GIRL follows a recent college grad trying to make it in the world of New York publishing, whose employer is a notoriously wild and difficult author with a vampiric schedule, a serious substance abuse problem, and a tendency to procrastinate.
With high society scandals and delightfully clever and expert prose, AGE OF INNOCENCE has more than earned its place among the classics. Wharton paints an exquisite picture of love, desire, and societal pressures against a changing social backdrop that is perfect for fans of Evelyn. In New York in the 1870s, Newland Archer is the perfect embodiment of old money, so far embracing exactly what society expects from him. And now he is to marry the sweet and well-bred May Welland. That is until May’s cousin Countess Ellen Olenska returns to the city and ends her marriage to a Polish count. At first, everyone is worried about how Ellen’s scandal will impact the marriage, but the more interaction Newland has, the more he is intrigued by Ellen’s unconventional attitude. As she continues to challenge Newland, he finds himself falling deeply in love with her and caught between societal expectations, duty, and desire.
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Age of Innocence, which explores the joys and scandals surrounding the marriage of an upper-class New York couple during the Gilded Age.
THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is a page-turning mystery drama that will compel you to devour it! And while this one may be a different genre, it’s just as addictive of a read as EVELYN HUGO. Hannah has finally found the love of her life, Owen Michaels, only for him to suddenly disappear a year into their marriage, leaving behind a simple note instructing Hannah to protect his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Despite their strained relationship and Bailey’s disinterest in a stepmother, Hannah is determined to do what she can, but what do they need protecting from? As Hannah’s desperate calls to Owen go unanswered and the FBI shows up at their doorstep, she realizes the man she married isn’t who he said he was. Together Hannah and Bailey set out to find the truth about Owen.
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The “page-turning, exhilarating” (PopSugar) and “heartfelt thriller” (Real Simple) about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.
With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a “page-turning, exhilarating, and unforgettable” (PopSugar) suspense novel.
A secret love affair that persists for decades mixed with Allende’s sweeping prose and wonderful historical fiction? Sounds like a good pairing with EVELYN HUGO to me! Allende creates beautiful and strong characters, and THE JAPANESE LOVER is no exception. To escape the Nazis, Alma Belasco is sent to San Francisco to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle. As the war rages on the other side of the world, Alma meets the gentle son of their gardener, Ichimei Fukuda. Slowly, sweetly, the two fall in love. And then Pearl Harbor is attacked. Ichimei and his family are taken away and forced into an internment camp. But still, their love for each other persists even as they are forced to keep it a secret. Now Alma lives in a nursing home often visited by her grandson, Seth. Her new caretaker, Irina, is an immigrant with her own troubled past. Both Irina and Seth begin to notice the numerous and mysterious gifts and letters that Alma receives. Together, they finally discover the secrets and the passion between Alma and Ichimei.
Isabel Allende’s latest novel spans from Poland in the 1930s to present-day San Francisco. This sweeping love story explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives.
And a reread of EVELYN HUGO is always a good call!
From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & the Six—an entrancing and “wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet” (PopSugar) as she reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Photo credit: iStock / Anna Puzatykh