Title: Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: 13th June 2017
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Psychological, LGBT
Number of pages: 400
Start Date: 6th June 2022
Finish Date: 7th June 2022
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon 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 is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is about the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo, simple as that. Seven husbands who are sometimes awful and sometimes sympathetic and sometimes somewhere in between. Ernie, who she used to get to where she is, Don, who beat her till she barely knew whether to continue, Harry, who she loved more than any of them, Max, who loves the idea of her more than he could ever love her.
But I think, despite its marketing, this book is really about Evelyn. Awful, complicated, completely lovable Evelyn. Evelyn is a flawed, compelling, brave, ambitious woman who got to where she was with teeth and claws and never gave up. She is also, and I’m not even joking, one of the most iconic characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. She is a woman with a lot of ambition but also one who loves and wants to be loved. She is such a good character.
This book is also fiercely and unapologetically socio-political and I love that. Evelyn’s story is one of being a woman in a man’s world. It is one of being a Cuban woman in a white woman’s world. It is one of being a bisexual woman in an era where attraction to women was demonised by the whole culture. It is one of hiding yourself for ambition, one of trying to decide which one takes precedent, one of aging, and one of never knowing whether your choices were right.
Could The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo really be fiction, dreamt up entirely in Taylor Jenkins Reid's imagination? Every moment felt so real, so tangible, I felt I was truly reading an autobiography of a celebrity. When I reached the end, it was hard to let go, hard to return to a world where this was nothing more than a figment of the imagination.
Evelyn Hugo, revered Hollywood actress and icon, is finally ready to tell the story of her life. But she wants to make sure that whatever comes out is authentic to who she is. So she contacts Monique Grant, a mostly unknown writer, to be her scribe. Everyone is surprised by the choice, no one more so than Monique herself. But to be given the chance to write Evelyn's memoir and to understand the person behind the legend is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that Monique can't pass up.
When I first started this, I thought I was in for a fluffy, gossipy romance set in the golden Hollywood era. After all, why would anyone need so many husbands unless one was in it for a good time? But this turned out to be so much more. At its heart, it's a stunning and brutally honest portrayal of love in all its different forms. It shows not just the joy of love, but also its sacrifices and heartbreaks.
I was blown away by how complex of a character Evelyn Hugo is. She is the heart and soul of this story, and her character shines so bright, it's hard to look away. She feels real, coming off the pages wholly formed. She's not perfect. In fact, her flaws and numerous questionable actions make her human, and it's easy to relate to her and cheer for her.
The book is written in alternative viewpoints, a little bit from Monique's perspective as she interviews Evelyn and a lot from Evelyn's perspective as she shares the story of her life. When a book has two different viewpoints, there's always a fear that one is more interesting than the other. But not here. I can honestly say that every moment of this book was equally riveting.
I adored Reid's writing style. It's filled with so much charm that it just oozes off the pages. The story obviously tackles serious issues, but the writing never takes itself too seriously. It's witty and funny, drawing me in and making me feel every emotion. It manages to convey so much nuance without ever slowing down the pacing or seeming long-winded. I'm in awe.
You guys know I'm a romantic through and through. And this story is all about finding and holding on to that great love of your life, no matter what it takes. I mean, how could I not be drawn to that? I'm also a realist and I know that love takes so much sacrifice. So this story spoke to my heart and my mind.
I never really had a chance. This book had me good and hooked, right from the first page. It's the sort of story I know I'll come back to again and again, savouring it anew every time.