“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover of titular book, featuring a blonde woman laying on a green surface in a green dress; lips and nails are of the same off-reddish hue; she has a pale orange-red belt of an unknown fabricBook: “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Atria Books on 13th June, 2017
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Historical
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Rating: 5/5⭐ 4/5🔥
Source: Goodreads giveaway
Goodreads

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.

I love the way I feel after I finish a book: like some part of me, somehow, is different — affected even.

Nonfiction doesn’t do it for me, but fiction helps me feel at least a little better after as a person, on the general scale. I enjoy books that challenge me, contain complex characters, and make me teeter between seeing people as good and bad at the same time. They’re complex and realistic, not sugar-coated, dry and plain, or black-and-white.

Characters

There are a lot of characters! All are well-developed, though, what with having their own distinct personalities and behaviors and tidbits. Some evolve as the story moves forward, while others are left behind after a marriage or film production ends — which isn’t, by any means, a bad thing; not everyone is meant to stay in our lives forever!

The romance

Oh, gosh, THE ROMANCE. The greater, epic love story between these pages is that of the camaraderie and forbidden love between one of her later husbands and a fellow actress, respectively.

So it’s not yet another heteromance1 playing the same old song on the world’s tiniest violin. It’s not a love story shared several times before.

It’s raw, historical fiction, drawing from how things were but still able to be great, and now that I’ve had some time to recollect myself (yeah, yeah, I cried, OK), I can’t help wondering why more stories about people who aren’t straight can’t, Idunno, be told in such a way. Sad times/stories don’t always have to be tragedies, just like love stories aren’t always happy endings.

It was such a lovely romance. 💖🔥

Story/context

Evelyn Hugo is no hero. She wanted Monique, the woman to whom she was indirectly connected and selected to write her biography, to make this clear: she wasn’t a hero. She didn’t care about the fame or latest scandal anymore. It was too much effort to care, and it wouldn’t matter afterward, anyhow.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is told in varying perspectives, from varying tenses, between the titular person and Monique. Evelyn’s retelling of history is in past tense. It works. Monique is recording their meetings together, so Evelyn’s perspective consists of (I’m guessing) transcripts.

The book is super quotable. I could quote the entire novel and still have more to quote.

I related to Evelyn a lot, which I loved. I admired how Monique came out of this experience being a little different because of Evelyn.

And, in quintessential Evelyn, I’m left with wanting more.

  1. Heterosexual romance, merged into one word; a portmanteau

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Jamie’s gravatar

I’m glad that this book did something for you and it makes me even more excited to read it! I love complex characters and romances that feel more real to me, not the fairy tale romances we’re so used to in stories nowadays.

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