Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Faux Non-Fiction/Biography, LGBTQIA+

Involves: Old Hollywood, glamor, glitz and the seedy underside

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, abuse

Summary:

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.

Reasons why you should not ignore this book:

  • Evelyn Hugo. Love her, or loathe her, she is one of the most compelling characters I have ever read in fiction. She felt so unbelievably real.
  • Monique. She is us. She struggles, she grieves, she has issues with her job.
  • It is exquisite even when it is painful.

I avoided this book for a long while. I have a really bad habit of doing that. I think it’s the stubborn teenager inside of me or something. The more someone likes something the less I want to read it.

I read this book from January to April. Anyone who knows me knows that is very odd. I devour books unless it’s a book I do not like. With this book, I loved it and had to hold myself back from devouring it, even though I so badly wanted to keep turning the pages in hope of happiness for all the characters involved.

This book plays out like a movie, with the performances subtle and heartbreaking and altogether wonderful. I could close my eyes and picture Evelyn, picture her home, picture Monique in a setting she is not accustomed to.

This book allowed me to see into a mind so similar it seems to many Hollywood starlets of the past. Women who seemed perfect and glamourous and were later revealed to be unerringly human.

It isn’t just about the glitz and glam, it would be so easy for Taylor Jenkins Reid to have created a shallow superficial story about an aging start but instead she gave us something so much more. The struggle of being Cuban in American at a time (similar to now) when it’s hard to be so. The struggle of hiding who you really are because there is fear that it can destroy your life.

There is gut wrenching moments in this book, and happiness so intoxicating and ephemeral that I cried more than once while reading.

Please. Read this book.

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