Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Romance
Released: June 13th, 2017
Trigger Warnings*: Death of a loved one, death of a child, talk of suicide, unhealthy dieting, underage sex with an adult, abortion, talk of miscarriage, a lot of physical abuse, cheating, dunk driving, and homophobic slurs.
Representation: Cuban, biracial, lesbian, bisexual, gay
Synopsis**: 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.
Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple? this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means -and what it costs- to face the truth.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo reminds us what it means to be human and the sacrifices we make for love.
“When you put it all together into one narrative,” she says, “make sure it’s clear that 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.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a deeply personal and cathartic read for me, for so many reasons that I will get to.
This book is about Monique Grant who is contacted to write an article about the mysterious and elusive Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo. Only it’s so much more than that.
It’s about Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands. Only it’s so much more than that.
It’s about a Cuban, bisexual woman trying to make her way in an industry and world that wants to put her in a box and keep her stifled and confined. Only it’s so much more than that.
It’s about what it means to be human, to love, to find your family, to fall apart, to do whatever is necessary to carve out the life you want. And still, it is so much more than that.
“I like you impure and scrappy and formidable. I like the Evelyn Hugo who sees the word for what it is and then goes out there and wrestles what she wants out of it. So, you know, put whatever label you want on it, just don’t change. That would be the real tragedy.”
Monique Grant is told by her editor that the Evelyn Hugo wants to speak with Valiant, the magazine Monique works for, about the upcoming auction of her dresses from her glamorous life. She will only do the article if Monique is the writer. Monique has no idea why she’s been chosen or how on earth Evelyn Hugo even knows she exists.
Even in her seventies, it is clear that Evelyn Hugo is a force to be reckoned with, and she doesn’t just want Monique to write an article about her fashion throughout the years. She wants Monique to author her tell-all biography about the life she’s led, the people she’s loved, and what she’s sacrificed for all of it. But why did Evelyn choose Monique? And who was the true love her life?
This book is everything to me. I saw myself in the characters, I saw the people I love in them too, and I recognized Evelyn’s desperate need for success and acknowledgment for her work. It’s hard for me to put into words what this book means to me, the importance of it, and just how fucking brilliant it is. But I’ll try my best.
“Evelyn, you are not capable of giving it up. And you never will be. And it will be the tragedy of my life that I cannot love you enough to make you mine. That you cannot be loved enough to be anyone’s.”
Evelyn Hugo is a whore, she’s a temptress, she’s an academy award winning actress, she’s controversial, she’s a man-eater, she’s a wife, she’s a bitch, she’s conniving, she’s a mother, she’s a liar, she’s a force to be reckoned with, she’s Cuban, she’s bisexual, she is all of this and so much more.
Evelyn Hugo has done a lot of things that have earned her a place in all of the gossip magazines.
When Evelyn sits down to tell Monique the story of her life, she does not shy away from the decisions she has made, the ones known to the public, or the ones known only by herself and few others.
She has done many things most people would be ashamed of and yet Evelyn owns every single one of her decisions, and furthermore, would do most of them again. Evelyn is unapologetically herself and I love her for it.
She can be cruel and nasty and protective and loving and she felt so fucking real. I had to remind myself that she wasn’t. That this fictional woman wasn’t real, that I don’t live in a world where this dynamite actress lives.
Taylor Jenkins Reid painted a haunting picture of a woman who doesn’t exist and made her more real than almost anyone I know.
“Isn’t it awfully convenient,” Harry added, “that when men make the rules, the one thing that’s looked down on the most is the one thing that would bear them the greatest threat? Imagine if every single woman on the planet wanted something in exchange when she gave up her body. You’d all be ruling the place. An armed populace. Only men like me would stand a chance against you. And that’s the last thing those assholes want, a world run by people like you and me.”
This story touched on many things, sexism and homophobia, privilege and fame, landmark moments in history, what it means to be a bisexual woman, what it means to be a woman who owns her sexuality, physical abuse, the need for so much more than you are afforded.
This story is about love and loss and creating a family of your own with the people you love unconditionally. It’s about throwing society’s expectations of you out the fucking window and crafting a life you want and love.
This story is about so many things and I just don’t know how to express my love for all of it.
The fact that I wanted to be around Celia all the time, the fact that I cared about her enough that I valued her happiness over my own, the fact that I liked to think about that moment when she stood in front of me without her shirt on—now, you put those pieces together, and you say, on plus one equals I’m in love with a woman. But back then, at least for me, I didn’t have that equation. And if you don’t even realize that there’s a formula to be working with, how the hell are you supposed to find the answer?”
At the beginning of this review, I told you that this book was deeply personal and cathartic for me. Here is why;
☁️ As a queer woman, still trying to find my feet in my own identity, I identified with Evelyn.
☁️ As a woman who has always striven to be better and do more with my life, I identified with Evelyn.
☁️ As a girl who has and still feels stuck in the life I have been given, I identified with Evelyn.
☁️ As a woman who will do anything to protect those I love unconditionally, I identified with Evelyn.
☁️ More than all of that, this book came at the perfect time for me.
☁️ This book reminded me of who I was and what needed to and could change in my life, right now.
It was around that time that I started to believe that friendships could be written in the stars. “If there are all different types of soul mates,” I told Harry one afternoon when the two of us were sitting out on the patio with Connor, “then you are one of mine.”
If you combined Evelyn and Celia, you would probably get someone who resembles quite closely to my own mother. So when I say that I want Evelyn and Celia to be my mums, it’s honestly not too far from my reality.
And as my mother is one of those people I love unconditionally, this book feels like the perfect book for us. I saw so much of myself and my mother in the pages of this book that it had me sobbing more than once. Trust me; I’ll be getting her to read it as soon as possible.
And now here comes the second-most-important part.
You cannot be a good lay. You must disappoint.
If he likes it, he’ll want to do it again. And you can’t do that. You can’t do this more than once. It will break your heart.
I loved the friendship between Evelyn and Harry, the relationship between Evelyn and Celia left me heartbroken and hopeful, the love Evelyn had for her daughter, Connor, reminded me of the love I know my mother has for me.
I loved how deeply human Evelyn is and what she was willing to do for love and to protect those who gifted her with it.
You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until someone stands behind you and says, “it’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”
I fell down.
And Harry caught me.
I don’t really know how to talk about everything in this book. It’s like it exposed a nerve ending and when I think about this book it hurts but in the best way possible.
Just read it, if you read any book this year, make it this one. There is nothing I’ve read that has felt quite like it and I am changed forever thanks to this book. When I finished reading it I said that it left me feeling both incredibly full and empty at the same time and that still couldn’t be truer.
More than anything else, this book is deeply human and I hope people can rediscover their own humanity within its pages.
“You don’t seem so bad, Evelyn.”
“You, of all people, are going to change your mind about that,” she says. “Very soon.”
Taken from Melanie’s review
Taken from Goodreads.
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I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network!
To follow my binge reading adventure just visit my 2018 Library Love shelf.
Or I’ll also be updating my 2018 Library Love Blog Post as I go!
Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
What book represents you?