The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
read in March 2018
This is a spoiler-free review!
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.
I was incredibly nervous to pick up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Everyone who has read this novel loved it and I was convinced I was going to love it as well, which is exactly why I was terrified to pick it up: what if I don’t enjoy it as much as I expect to? I shouldn’t have been worried though because it absolutely lived up to the hype!
I was actually not in the mood to read when I picked this up. But I thought “if there’s one book that’s going to get me out of a slump, it’s this one”, and I wasn’t wrong: I devoured this entire novel in one sitting! I definitely plan on re-reading it someday.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is about movie star Evelyn Hugo – daughter of Cuban immigrants – who decides to tell her life’s story to Monique, a biracial journalist. I was so invested in Evelyn’s story that I forgot about why she chose Monique. Towards the end I thought I had figured it out, but I was wrong. I never saw the reveal coming and I had to put the book down for a couple of minutes because I was so amazed! This isn’t a mystery novel, but Taylor Jenkins Reid surely has the capacity to write one.
When I reviewed Maybe In Another Life by this author, I mentioned that she did a wonderful job writing characters who are flawed and complex, who are far from perfect but you care about them nonetheless. That’s the case in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as well. This solidifies that I certainly want to read everything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes.
I was only 35 pages in when I realised I love these characters, Evelyn in particular. She is a no-bullshit woman. She knows she’s beautiful and desirable and she uses that to her own advantage. Her rise to stardom was not easy. She faced racism – she hides her Cuban heritage in every way possible – and sexism. She knows she has done bad things, but she doesn’t regret the decisions she made. In another writer’s hands Evelyn could’ve been an easy character to dislike and judge, which is probably the reason why I love this book so much. I know Evelyn is extremely flawed, but I f*cking love her nonetheless.
The bisexual representation meant so much to be. It was relatable and I loved reading about a woman who realises she is bisexual as an adult. The love interest is lesbian and two male secondary characters are gay. The queerphobia – often internalised – was sometimes hard to read, but it was necessary: it’s historically accurate and it explains the decisions the characters made. That said I don’t think this book was perfect (e.g. the conversations about Stonewall only mention gay men and no trans women), but overall the good outweighs the bad and I would recommend this novel!
content and trigger warning for (warning: contains spoilers!!!): ableist language (e.g. m*ron), blackmailing, smoking, cancer, mentions of drugs, alcoholism, suicide, sexual assault, statutory rape, sex scenes (fairly explicit), slut-shaming, sexism, abortion, cheating, child abuse, domestic violence, anti-gay slurs, (internalised) queerphobia, racism, deathly car accident, deaths
I am so relieved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo didn’t disappoint! It certainly deserves the praise it has received. I plan on reading this again, as well as the author’s other work. I would absolutely recommend this gorgeous, fast-paced novel about flawed characters! ❤
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