As you will know from my last review, I greatly enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six, so it seemed a no-brainer to then read her book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. All I really knew about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was that it sounded like it was going to share some similarities to that of Elizabeth Taylor’s life, by who I must admit, I’ve always been a bit fascinated.
From the publisher marketing:
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.
I loved this book. It had everything I wanted: complex women, good men, bad men, stupid men, queer love, friendship love, and one serious curveball near the end that was executed flawlessly. I was sucked into the world of Hollywood in the 1950s and the fake glamour of it all. The book pulls back the curtain on what being in the movies was like back then and how one wrong move can put you at the bottom, achingly trying to claw your way back to the top.
Despite everything, I came to like Evelyn Hugo, the character. She certainly made mistakes, one major one that had massive repercussions, but she didn’t pretend to be perfect. She was unapologetically herself and she was going to do what she had to in order to have the life and career she wanted. And I don’t think it makes her a bad person. She’s upfront about her behavior and how she’s used whatever assets she possesses to get what she wants. The beauty of this book is that while it is called The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the husbands are secondary and not who I ended up caring about for the most part, except for one.
This book is a story of heartbreak, resilience, and a never-ending hope in finding love despite everything the world can throw at someone. But also, that a person can’t be passive in their own life if they ever hope to go anywhere. Which isn’t really a lesson I thought I’d be getting from a book about a woman and her seven husbands, but here we are. If you have been on the fence about reading this book, worried it may not meet all the hype, I would say go read it. For me, it exceeded my expectations and I’m glad I read it.
Rating: 9 out of 10