The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published June 2017
Goodreads: See here
Fiction / Historical Fiction / Contemporary
Synopsis at a Glance:
Monique Grant, an unknown magazine contributor has seen better days. Her husband has left her, and her career opportunities are beginning to stagnate. So no one is more surprised than Monique when Evelyn Hugo reaches out to her by name, asking her to pen her biography. Evelyn is finally ready to tell all about her life in Hollywood, and the seven marriages that made her infamous over the course of her career.
Regardless of why she was chosen, Monique is determined to go through with it; to use this as an opportunity to jumpstart her career. Meeting in Evelyn’s Upper East side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn recounts her story: From arriving in Las Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, while spilling the tea about all those husbands all the way.
As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades – revealing ruthless ambitions, unexpected friendships and a great true love – Monique begins to feel a connection to the actress, not expecting the tragic and irreversible ways their lives will intersect in the present.
When I think back on my reading habits from a year ago and compare them to today, it makes me so glad that I started book blogging. Without this wonderful community of avid readers, I never would have discovered this book. It is far outside what I’d normally pick for myself to read, but finding it was like finding a diamond in the rough, if the rough is the bookstore I was unleashed onto when I committed to buying it. Thanks to a few fellow reviewers I trust completely who were raving about it, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try a new genre for a change.
I’m so glad I did because this was stunning, and Evelyn’s story moved me in ways I didn’t anticipate it would when I started.
I like to think this dichotomy between the cover and the unexpected intricacies of Evelyn’s story was a clever deception on the author and publisher’s part. Giving this book a title that mirrors tabloid headlines about a Hollywood icon is very in keeping with the way Evelyn is valued by the industry itself. An industry in which her worth is directly correlated to her appearance as Evelyn Hugo, the actress, while disregarding the complexities and intricacies present in Evelyn Herrera, the woman behind the icon.
Watching Evelyn’s story unfold was the most fun I’ve had all year. I couldn’t put this book down. A reader might think they’ve got her figured out, and then Taylor Jenkins Reid goes ahead and peels back another layer.
Part of me would love to shout from the rooftops some of the spoilers present in this story because I loved them, but I think the journey through to those revelations is too important to spoil. For a story set in the decades between 1950 and the present, the themes and political discourse that is threaded through the narrative are still stark and important.
For those of you who seek diversity in your stories, I hope you’ve got this novel on your radar.
Evelyn and Monique are both WOC and there are more diverse characters as well. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a master at weaving their experiences as women with thematic elements of love, self-discovery and embracing truths that are not always self-evident into both her lead character’s journeys. Their stories are topical, relevant and achingly real. They serve as an especially important reminder for those who might assign value onto women (and celebrity icons) for their appearance and status while failing to recognize the person behind the image – and that we all make flawed choices from time to time.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is brilliant, compelling and a triumph of my reading year thus far. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for more books by this author in the future.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐= 5/5 stars – a book I’m proud to have on my bookshelf!
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Another other Historical Fiction books you can think of that I should give a shot?