The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publishing Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster Canada
The Premise from the Publisher: "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 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" (Atria).
My overall thoughts and review: I have been seeing so many people raving about this book recently and it was on offer, so I decided to finally pick it up. I am ashamed to admit that this is my first read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which is awful since I know a lot of people have been pushing me to read them. After I finished this one, I immediately downloaded all her other books onto my kobo at 2:00am the other night. This book absolutely BLEW ME AWAY. I honestly could not put it down and I was so immersed in it. I went in expecting a bit of Hollywood glam, and I had heard from others that it was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. The reader learns about the seven husbands that Evelyn Hugo had and her life story. I immediately fell in love with Reid's writing style because I felt as if I was in that world, experiencing everything first hand. The reader is introduced to two characters: Monique and Evelyn. Monique has been chosen specifically by Evelyn to record her life story. Monique is determined to get up the ladder at her job, but she is also struggling with the failure of her marriage and pending divorce. Monique's anxieties surrounding being alone really spoke to me and I really enjoyed seeing how Evelyn influenced her and pushed her to stand her ground.
Evelyn, on the other hand, is such a remarkable character. The book described various men falling in love with her for her body, but I fell in love with her as a reader simply because of her personality. Evelyn knows she has faults and that she has made mistakes, and the way she acknowledges it is quite impressive. She decides to finally break free of the stories of her and what the press has built up over the years and finally speak HER truth: "Everyone I loved is dead now. There's no one left to protect. No one left to life for but me. People have so closely followed the most intricate details of the fake story of my life. But it's not... I don't... I want them to know the real story. The real me" (38). For every thing we 'think' we know about Evelyn, there always seems to be another layer. It was quite nice that Reid included newspaper articles alongside the chapters. She really hit home how the media can misinterpret content sometimes: "The truth had been there for them to grab if they'd paid attention... But of course, they got it wrong. They never did care about getting it right. The media are going to tell whatever story they want to tell. They always have. They always will" (357). It is incredibly hard to write this review or even go into great details about the people in Evelyn's life without spoiling major things, but I will say, I loved how distinct every character was in their voice and their actions. You saw how every character influenced Evelyn and you got an inside look into the movie-making business and how cutthroat it could be. My favorite characters are definitely Evelyn, Harry, and Celia (despite all their faults). I was honestly so sad when the book came to an ending and I definitely cried at a few moments. Reid presents such a raw representation of someone recounting everything that has happened in their life, regardless of good or bad. I love that regardless of the content, Evelyn makes it incredibly clear in her meetings with Monique that she does not regret her past one bit: "...of all the things I did to protect my family, I would do every one again. And I would have done more, would have behaved even uglier, if I thought it could have saved them" (362). I'm honestly so impressed with Evelyn's strength and tenacity. This book has the setting of Hollywood glam, but it is so much more than that. It is seriously one of my favorite books from this year. It tackles identity, family, friendship, love, and sexuality. and Reid's writing is simply divine. Please pick up this book, you won't regret it. I loved it so much and I'm already itching to re-read it (and if you know me, re-reads are rare so that's saying something!)
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)
Available for purchase at:
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