“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo… what a book! What an experience I had while reading it. I’m fine, completely fine!” said I, while holding the book and sobbing uncontrollably.
No, I’m not fine. Months after I read this masterpiece, I’m still not fine. Better said, I don’t know if I’m supposed to be happy that I’ve got to read such an amazing book in my lifetime, or I should be utterly mad at Taylor Jenkins Reid for breaking my heart in such a miserable way. In Evelyn Hugo’s case, both contradictory ideas can apply. Why? Because Reid has understood the assignment. This talented writer has blessed us with one of the best books of the 21st century. No sarcasm, no jokes here. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo definitely deserves its huge hype on booktok and bookstagram.
Like many readers, I’m reluctant when it comes to very popular books. I mean… a 4.45-star average rating on Goodreads, with over 500000 people who rated the book on this platform, and a movie adaptation in progress? It must be worth reading, right? Despite this, a part of me felt like this book will disappoint me.
Not at all! The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of the best – if not the best – books I’ve ever read in my life, and I’m saying this in a very serious tone. Of course, I won’t forget to mention that it both mended and broke my heart. Like a rollercoaster, I’ve been through all the possible intense emotions that a human being can feel. I became angry, felt disgusted, smiled and cried with Evelyn Hugo. Sometimes, I forget she is just a fictional character and not a real, fleshed-out woman coming out of the book.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Intriguing. Fascinating. Dark. Juicy.
What is the story about?
We get to know Monique Grant, a thirty-year-old journalist for Vivant Magazine. She is an unknown writer. Then why did Evelyn Hugo, the legendary Hollywood actress from the ’60s, ask her to write her autobiography?
The glamorous actress’ life is revealed to not be so glamorous after all. She was of Cuban heritage, only left with her abusive father after her mother died. At fourteen, she wanted to escape her home and go to Hollywood. She was very intelligent and clever when she convinced Ernie Diaz she was sixteen and begged him to take her to the Hollywood studios where he worked as an electrician.
In a short time, young Evelyn has learned that fame has many prices, including her virginity and pieces of herself (for example, she denied her Cuban heritage to fit in a white man’s world). She has also learned to use her physical beauty and assets as an advantage to gain fame. In a world where women were treated like objects, were paid less and abused, Evelyn has become famous and a legendary sex symbol. Because her skin was a tone darker and she dyed her hair blonde, she was also seen as exotic.
What about the seven husbands?
Over seven decades, Evelyn had many types of relationships. Some were transactional, some were obligatory, and some were sensationalized. But, Evelyn learned a lot from all her relationships that were the base of her growth and development as a character.
Besides the seven marriages, she also has a secret, forbidden relationship that was so passionate and romantic, yet it was flawed as it was influenced by the patriarchy and public, and Evelyn would have lost her fame if this relationship would have been revealed. Because of this, Evelyn’s has done mistake after mistake to protect this relationship.
Evelyn could have given up her fame for this relationship, but she didn’t. She is a good person that values true love and was afraid to be herself in a conservative world. But, she also did mistakes and proved that she is human, making bad decisions, having regrets and trying to do what’s best for herself and her dear ones. Evelyn is a strong, badass woman that knows her worth and doesn’t regret anything about her life.
What’s the reason legendary Evelyn Hugo wanted to have her biography written? She wanted to smash the patriarchy. Her biography was her last attempt at pointing out the inequalities within the Hollywood film industry, bringing to account the men who remained unscathed for their unscrupulous behaviour. If Evelyn wanted to be truly seen, she wanted even more for these men, who were rewarded for being cruel and unkind, to be remembered for who they were.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is not only a story about self-discovery, misogyny and breaking down the stereotypes, but is also a story about queer rights and those in the LGBTQ community (here is a link to an article that explains how you can be an LGBTQ ally). Evelyn herself was bisexual but she had to hide her true self to not put her reputation and fame at risk.
In the end, you might still have questions. Why Monique Grant, an unknown journalist? Who was Evelyn Hugo’s true love? I will let you discover by reading Evelyn’s story.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is truly a masterpiece. I recommend it to everybody. It has an awesome plot and complex, multi-dimensional and compelling characters. The author’s writing style is so rich and engaging that will hook you in instantly. I am sure you will love this book, so go and read it as soon as possible!
P.S. I also talked about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on my bookstagram account.