“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”
TITLE: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
RELEASE DATE/PUBLISHER: June 13, 2017 by Atria Books
GENRE(S): Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult Fiction, Contemporary
“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.”
Recently, I finished reading what I now consider to be my favorite book of all time. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s one hell of a proclamation” and yes, it is. The thing is, I don’t have any doubt in my mind that this story will stay with me forever. At the very least, it will remain a top favorite for many years to come. I don’t quite understand just what exactly pushed me to pick this book up. I watched Booksandlala’s newest video – ‘More 5 Star Predictions’ – and was reminded of the title, which I had heard of a few times prior thanks to other members of the Booktube community, but it had genuinely never peaked my interests. I don’t fully comprehend what exactly clicked in my brain making me decide to choose The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as one of my Contemporary-a-thon reads but I’m eternally grateful I did. The Goodreads synopsis above does a seamless job at summarizing the story, so I won’t write about that specific aspect too much. What I truly wanted from this review was to touch up on the reasons why I’ve grown to love this story as much as I have in such a short amount of time.
“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”
The most obvious reason is all the diversity the narrative indulges in amidst such a beautifully carried out plot. Within its short 388 pages, you get all kinds of representation – gay, bisexual, lesbian, bi-racial, Latinx. To get just one of these representations in any type of media is already fantastically astounding, but to get all of them in a single book is out-of-this-world and so, so important. As a Cuban woman myself, I rarely get the chance to read about Cuban characters, especially three-dimensional and resilient-as-hell Cuban women; it was overwhelmingly rewarding.
“I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.”
Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to write some of the most complex, raw, and unapologetically real characters I’ve ever read about – so much so that I haven’t stopped thinking about them since the moment I turned that last page. Evelyn Hugo is constantly reminding Monique and the reader that by telling her story, she’s in no way, shape, or form searching for us to perceive her as a good person. Getting to explore a character who is so self-aware of her flaws and mistakes and the duality that goes into being human was refreshing and unbelievably relatable. Every character had a thousand layers that were effortlessly peeled back with every flip of a page and I undoubtedly enjoyed getting to mercilessly witness them becoming full rounded, real people.
“Nobody deserves anything. It’s simply a matter of who’s willing to go and take it for themselves.”
I learned a whole lot while reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Yes, Evelyn is an utterly flawed character but in many ways, because of that same reason, she’s a never-ending pit of life lessons. I loved my time with Evelyn. Through her story, I learned the true meaning of being your authentic self – as Evelyn herself was regretful she hadn’t been. While Evelyn grew ashamed of the time she had wasted while she could have been with her one true love, I learned the importance of and to cherish the time I have with my loved ones. Evelyn portrayed the perfect example of a woman fully confident in her abilities and her role in the world, creating one of the greatest female-positive atmospheres I’ve ever had the pleasure to indulge in. Aside from Evelyn, witnessing Monique grow into her own skin after molding Evelyn’s advice to fit into her own personal life was both satisfying and relatable, as that’s also what I, as the reader, was doing.
“When you dig just the tiniest bit beneath the surface, everyone’s love life is original and interesting and nuanced and defies any easy definition.”
I can’t possibly write an entire blog post about this book without mentioning the romance. Oh my God, the romance. As I don’t want to touch on anything that could be even remotely considered a spoiler, I’ll keep this short – the romance portrayed throughout this enticing narrative managed to both break my heart and put it back together again…not once but multiple different times. I kind of want to shake Taylor Jenkins Reid because, how dare she make my poor little wounded heart go through so much in such a short amount of time?! Similarly, though, I kind of want to applaud Reid and her brilliant (and cruel…but mostly brilliant) mind.
“My heart was never in the craft of acting, only in the proving. Proving my power, proving my worth, proving my talent.”
There’s something about old Hollywood that reels me in like nothing else. Between the scandals, the glitz, the glamour, the darkness, and everything in between, I can’t deny that the idea of following a historical fictional story about an actress in 1950s Hollywood was one of the reasons I was so fascinated with this story from the very beginning. Evelyn’s seven marriages, in a way, portrayed seven different sides of the business and of the types of individuals you might run across within it. Although some were horrifying (like Evelyn’s experience with Don Adler), others were heartwarming (Oh how I love you, Harry), and no matter under which category they fell in, every marriage offered a dissimilar inside look into both the positive and negative sides to fame. I think there’s a little part in all of us that can’t help but wonder what Hollywood is really like, and in turn, I genuinely think the world Reid created was enough to keep the readers enthusiastically engaged throughout the length of the novel. Now, add complex, engaging characters to an already intriguing world and you’ve got one hell of a book.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a spellbinding and mesmeric tale about a woman ready to tell-all. Every single aspect of this glamorous novel will keep you so enthralled that you won’t want to do anything else except devour each and every word. Now that I’ve spilled my guts about why this story means so much to me, go on and get your hands on your very own copy! The world of Evelyn Hugo is awaiting.