Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 2017
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Romance, Domestic Fiction
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.
Before I start this review I’m including all the trigger warnings necessary for this book: adultery, domestic abuse, death/grief, homophobia/biphobia, racism.
First thing’s first, how cute is my dog? He’s amazing and my best friend I hope to be including him in some more bookish photos in the future!
Now onto the review. I try to read a fair amount of adult fiction, but typically it’s not the kind of thing I go for. Historical fiction is also not usually my thing and I can’t say that I love flashbacks. Yet this book is almost told entirely in flashbacks. And I loved it. This book blew me away! Taylor Jenkins Reid creates a world so vivid and vibrant and full of life and colour. I felt like I knew even the minor characters inside out. What we weren’t told about them – their fears, their ambitions, their motives – I could figure out due to all the intricacies of their character. You just know who they are, even if all we get is one line – that line will have been crafted so perfectly so that would be all the information we would ever need to know about them.
Evelyn Hugo herself was an enigma – she was the one character I could not seem to quite figure out – but that was what took this story from good to great. A Cuban girl making her way in the world from a young age, it was so fascinating to read about how she, a bisexual woman of colour, found her place in Hollywood in the 1950’s. The more I got to know her, the more I fell in love with her. She lied and manipulated people, traded parts of herself – and other people – for bigger roles and bigger cheques. She is a deeply flawed human being and aware of it. And yet I still like her. I think that’s important to note – you can love someone without liking someone. But I do, I really do like her. And I’m sure most people who read this book do too.
Monique is not a character I cared much for. Honestly, this is the only part of the book that I didn’t feel added anything to it. All the way through, when we get to her storyline, I found myself asking why any of this was relevant, why any of this was necessary. I know what you might be thinking – isn’t that good? Isn’t it good that I’m asking questions, wanting to know more? But it wasn’t like that, I wasn’t desperate to find out why this was relevant – I was desperate to get back to the part of the story that I cared about.
When I got to the end and we finally do find out why this was included, I was both shocked and underwhelmed. I was more intrigued with Evelyn’s part of the story than with Monique’s and overall I felt like that part of the inclusion was almost unnecessary.
I’m giving this book 5 stars because it is rich with characters, diversity, tension, intrigue and mystery and yet doesn’t feel like it’s moving too fast. There is never a dull moment in this novel, even when everything is standing still the story feels like so much is happening around them. The writing is divine and I would recommend that everyone, no matter who you are or what type of novel you tend to enjoy, picks this one up. It is well worth the read and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Have you guys read this book? What did you think of it?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year? Tell me about it!