Staff Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book had been on my radar for quite some time, and I had my hold placed a few months before it finally came to me. Now I know we aren’t ever supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I can’t help but love this one. That green dress is something straight from old Hollywood glamor, which is where Evelyn Hugo made herself famous.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” tells two stories simultaneously. We first meet Monique Grant, a recently-divorced writer looking to do more with her craft and currently working for a magazine called “Vivant”. Her boss is told that Evelyn Hugo, the movie star icon now approaching 80, wants to have Monique, and only Monique, write a piece about the auction she will be holding. When Monique meets Evelyn, she quickly discovers that all is not what it seems. Evelyn wants Monique to write her biography; spilling all her well-kept secrets and scandals that she’s been holding onto for over 50 years. The novel is primarily told from Evelyn’s perspective as she recounts her story to Monique, and periodically shifts back to the present day as Monique and Evelyn’s relationship evolves. 

From the first encounter between Evelyn and Monique, the reader should quickly learn that things are not as they first appear with Evelyn. When one hears of a Hollywood starlet (fictional or otherwise) having seven husbands, there can be a certain amount of assumptions made. Any assumptions you may have about Evelyn should be promptly tossed as you begin this book. From her first husband to her last and everyone in between, Evelyn’s relationships were all surprises for both the reader and Monique to discover along the way. The reader quickly learns that Evelyn is calculated, wise and willing to do anything to persevere in the business. Her tenacity is infectious, and as the story progresses, Evelyn’s character reveals itself more and more. Monique’s big question for Evelyn is “Who was the love of your life”, and in finding the answer, Monique learns more than she anticipated. Why does Evelyn insist upon Monique to write this piece? The answer to this question left me shocked, flipping back pages to reread and fully comprehend what I had just read. I did not see that plot twist coming!

This book does not shy away from the things people, especially women, do in order to advance in the workplace – especially the world of Hollywood. There are situations in the book that may be difficult to read, including domestic abuse and unplanned pregnancies. As Evelyn says as she tells her story, she doesn’t regret any of the actions she took, any of the choices she made, in order to protect the people she loved, including herself.

I often had to remind myself while thinking about the story that this isn’t a show I’m currently watching, but a book I’m reading. The images were so clear in my head, I could picture every scene with great detail. Taylor Jenkins Reid does an amazing job at bringing the characters of the novel to life and painting the glamorous picture of old Hollywood. The glamour, scandal and big Hollywood lights shine off the pages of this novel, and readers will close this book thinking they really did just read a Hollywood starlet’s biography. If you haven’t done so already, add “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid to your “to-be-read” pile today!

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