The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Paperback, 389 pages
2017, Washington Square Press
Film star and Hollywood highlight, Evelyn Hugo has survived seven husbands. In her old age, long since retired from acting, she decides she’s ready for her memoir to be written and she picks reporter Monique Grant for the job. Monique is puzzled, but ready to launch her career with the story of a lifetime. Evelyn’s story is more complex than Monique ever imagined and tied up with it is the celebrity’s reason for picking Monique to tell her story.
While I do enjoy the occasional Hollywood-based historical fictionesque books (see The Swans of Fifth Avenue) or ones that delve into the lives of the social elite (see also The Devil Wears Prada, Gossip Girl and maybe even The Nanny Diaries) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo wasn’t initially on my radar. Then people started talking. Then people with very similar reading tastes to my own started talking. I finally decided to give it a shot…
This book fucked me up.
I immediately loved the tone (primarily of Evelyn’s narration, Monique’s voice is so-so) and to give you an idea of how hooked I was – I went away to Maine for a long weekend and while the rest of the group was playing drinking games, as one does at a bachelor party (yes, you read that right), I was curled up on the couch in the cabin, reading this book. Don’t get me wrong, I did hang (and drink) with the others a little…but mostly I was reading this book!
I had no idea this book would have such depth. I was ready for your standard scandals and affairs (yeah, see Gossip Girl again), but there’s way more to this book than meets the eye. Evelyn’s story starts out as a somewhat standard story of a girl from nowhere who claws her way out of poverty and away from abuse, into the somewhat abusive world of the silver screen and changes her looks and uses her body to get where she needs to go. That was not particularly shocking. But the way Evelyn speaks about her experiences gave her story a lot of life.
Then you get into the husbands. Each one gets his own section of the book, which I liked. There are also newspaper clippings thrown in here and there regarding her relationships, breakups, etc. But among those seven husbands are other relationships, both meaningful and not so much.
One thing I haven’t heard talked about as much is the gay/lesbian/bisexual rep in this book. I can’t recall if I heard about it beforehand, but if I did, I forgot. I was pleasantly surprised by how much rep there was in this book and the way it’s discussed among those who represent (ex: lesbian vs bisexual). Each relationship of Evelyn’s adds more to her story and the complexity of her life.
I just think you should read this book. I’m giving it all the stars. All of them!
I don’t know how to talk about how good it is. As the end neared, I could tell something was coming. Prior to that happening, I cried. Real tears! Despite knowing from the start that all Evelyn’s husbands are dead, one of the deaths had me unexpectedly emotional. Then the “twist” at the end had me tearing up all over again.
I LOVE WHEN BOOKS MAKE ME CRY, DAMMIT!
If you like fictional memoirs, historical fiction, celebrity fiction, LGB relationships, Hollywood, tough females, crying and surprising messages about being true to yourself and finding love and creating your own family, then you really need to get your hands on this book. It’s a rare occasion, but I agree with the hype. The hype is real, people!