Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
Evelyn Hugo is a fictional Hollywood actress but Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote her life story—the ups and downs, the good and the ugly, her love and heartbreaks—so realistically, you’ll forget it is fiction. Reid didn’t just deliver the story wonderfully, she also made sure her readers feel every emotion her characters felt all throughout the book which easily makes this an unforgettable read.
“Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.”
With the book’s title and 1950s Hollywood setting one would expect the story to be filled with dramas about the filmland, and red carpets, and Evelyn’s string of lovers. But this book has so much more. It’s a story about love and loss. It’s about fighting for what you want, and protecting those you love even though sometimes it means making a difficult decision.
Evelyn is definitely one of the most complex character I’ve ever read. Everything about her—even her friendship and relationships—are far from simple. She’s what a lot of women wants to be—perfect, rich, and famous. But beneath the surface, Evelyn is ambitious, manipulative, selfish, ruthless when it comes to trying to get what she wants. And she lies a lot. Those aren’t very good traits, but it doesn’t stop you from wanting to know more about her because those flaws are part of what makes her real and believable. Going deeper, behind the wall of lies she built for herself we get to see Evelyn—a good friend, a loving partner, a caring mother, a woman who makes mistakes just like the rest of us—painfully human.
“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”
The beautiful characterization did not end with Evelyn. All the other characters are all so well-written that it felt like they stopped being just characters and became real people— layered, deeply flawed, and so complicated.
The story bounces between past and present as Evelyn told the story of each of her seven husbands. Each one is its own kind of messy. Her main love interest wasn’t someone that I expected but theirs was a love so deep, and pure, and admirable. Theirs is a journey that’s even more turbulent than the story of all of Evelyn’s seven husbands combined. And despite the mistakes, the pain, and the heartbreaks they may have caused each other, their love stayed strong because in the end, you always forgive the ones you love.
“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.”
The only dull moments I had with this book are the chapters with Monique’s perspective. Don’t get me wrong, Monique is still a good character and her perspective was important to the story. But most of the time she just pales in comparison to Evelyn’s brilliance and eccentricities. I might have skimmed some of Monique’s part a little because my mind is eager to go back to Evelyn’s story.
With that being said, it’s safe to say that the hype is real on this one. Serving a pack of hard topics, awesome representations, a rollercoaster of emotions, scandalous secrets, multi-dimensional characters, and realistic plot, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is definitely a must read.