Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
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—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. (Goodreads)
I read this book a week ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t get Evelyn, and Celia, and Harry and the beautiful world that Reid created out of my brain. My heart is also still recovering from the heartbreaking beauty that was this book. I bawled my eyes out at the end of this book, in public, around people…I’m fine. Really, books are just destroying me. I don’t usually cry at books, but this one hit me in a way I did not expect.
Evelyn might be one of my favourite characters ever. She’s just iconic. She’s a bisexual, Cuban woman who is powerful, ambitious, talented, and willing to do whatever she needs to do to get things done. She clawed her way to the top and she’ll be damned if anyone will take her down. She makes a name and a life for herself and it is never easy and she makes big mistakes, but she keeps going and keeps living, even when life tries to take her down. She’s flawed, she’s selfish, she’s insanely ambitious, and she’s human and layered and ultimately one of the most complex interesting characters I’ve read.
This book is set to the over the top glamour of old Hollywood, but at its core it’s not about lights, red carpets, Oscars, and a long line of husbands, it’s about loving the people you love and not being afraid to do it. It’s about not wasting time on the things that don’t make you happy. It’s about claiming your power as a woman.
This book had so much to say about a lot of things. Usually I find that books that tackle a lot of social or political issues don’t give anything enough time or get bogged down in the attempt. This book didn’t do that. Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo gave everything its due. It talked about feminism and claiming female power in the era of men. It had LGBTQ+ representation everywhere and explored those struggles in the mid 1900s. It also discussed racism, divorce, the media, and so much more in a nuanced and believable way.
The romance in this book, not the seven husbands, but the real romance was one of the most believable and heartbreaking romances I have ever read. It was complicated, it was messy, it was beautiful, and it was deep. I won’t say who the true love of Evelyn’s life was to avoid spoilers. I’ll just say that it was beautiful and that their love will touch your heart in a very special way.
Her story is told through two timelines, the past and the present where she is telling her story to a journalist. In the present timeline she is telling her story how she wants to tell it, not how the media told it for decades. She is taking back her story, every single messy part of it. The only part of this book I didn’t particularly enjoy was the two timelines. It worked great as a plot device and served up a unexpected plot twist at the end, but I just didn’t care about Monique. Which really is just because Evelyn overshadowed her in so many ways, so I wanted more Evelyn. I tended to skim the parts with Monique and was way less invested. Thankfully there wasn’t too much of her in the book, but it did serve the story line.
Overall, this book will forever hold a special place in my heart. There was so much about it that I didn’t expect. I don’t usually read fiction and I had seen it around, but it never really interested me. Then Samantha said read Daisy Jones and the Six and my library had it on waitlist, but not The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. So, I figured I’d try that one out, and I am so glad that I did.
If you want a book that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, has powerful female characters, phenomenal LGBTQ+ and POC representation, this book is a definite must read.
Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Or anything else by Taylor Jenkins Reid? I also loveeeed Daisy Jones and the Six and Reid is quickly becoming a must-read author for me!