Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 13th 2017 by Atria Books
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Goodreads Rating: 4.26 out of 5 Stars
As 2018 was coming to an end I found myself shifting through a bunch of books on my ‘TBR’ shelf to find something to read. Since I was still in ‘holiday’ mood I wasn’t look for a thriller, which threw half of my shelf out of the running. I also wasn’t looking for anything to heavy. I just needed something to hold my attention while we drove up to Dallas for a second round of Christmas. I found myself gravitating towards The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo mainly because of the beautiful green gown shown on the cover, it screams holiday party to me! And with that thought, I decided to read this book as my last read of 2018.
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.
On the 29th of December I posted a full list of everything I had read in 2018 (which you can see here). Within that post I talk a little about my favorite books of the year. I ended up picking a few different books as ‘My Favorites’ however if I would have read this book before the 29th, I can guaranty you this would have been my one and only favorite of the year! I went into this story with a wide open mind. I had hear it was
a good read and goodreads gave it a solid 4 stars, but I was honestly blown away at how well thought out, put together, enjoyable, and delivered the writing was. I honestly have no complaints revolving around this story other than it not being longer!
There are two story lines within the book. One takes place in modern day and is told through the eyes of Monique, a 30ish year old journalist who is offered the story of her life. The second story line is through the eyes of Evelyn Hugo, one of the world’s most beautiful, successful, noteworthy, and prominent actresses ever to come out of Hollywood. Evelyn (which by the way is one of my favorite names) is now 80 and is employing Monique to write her memoir and the second story line is her narrative of her past. Monique of course agrees to work for Evelyn which kicks the reader off through a whirlwind of a story worthy of any Hollywood starlet.
Let me quickly add that I love old Hollywood. The way it seamlessly represented glamour, class, and beauty all in makes me wish I could have been a ‘Star’ during that era. Evelyn Hugo is the epitome of all three of those traits and I found myself drawn to her immediately. If you need a comparison she’s basically Marilyn Monroe and Aubrey Hepburn rolled into one. But the other side of old Hollywood, which I’m sure existed was the amount of sexism and control that also existed. Reid has outdone herself with portraying both the glitz and the grime throughout this entire book.
The biggest questions Monique has for Evelyn throughout the story, are:
Who is Evelyn’s greatest love and why was Monique picked for this task?
Throughout the story, we the reader, learn just how conniving and scrappy a person had to be in order to ‘make it’ in Hollywood. Each of the husbands played a role in advancing her career or at least in protecting her image. Her first husband was a means out of Hell’s Kitchen, her second husband was Hollywood royalty, the third was to cover up a particular relationship, the fourth was a mutual agreement to help boost a movies performance, the fifth was to once again cover up the same mentioned relationship, the sixth was probably an accident, and the last marriage was due to a promise she made with her greatest love.
Evelyn Hugo’s life intercepted into a maze of different arenas and as she tells her story she relates things back to the happens of the world, which I think Reid did an excellent job of intertwining. She also did a fantastic job of tying together the stories of both Evelyn and Monique, including a nice little twist out the end that I didn’t see coming!
That characters in this story are top-notch! They all have serious but realistic flaws and even when I don’t want to like them I still love them and can understand why they did. That’s not to say I didn’t get frustrated with them, but they learn from their mistakes and I just want to be friends with most of them.
Past Evelyn’s life however, Reid in-directly touches on LBGT, treatment of women,women’s rights, societies shift toward embracing sexuality, the life-cycle of aging, and the reaction we have to lose, life, and love. Hands down, this book gets 5 stars. I haven’t stopped thinking about Evelyn Hugo since I finished this book, which of course I binge read in a day! This easily could have turned into a generic sappy romance but Reid outdid herself when she created quick-witted, ambitious, and ahead of her time Evelyn Hugo. I highly recommend you read this book, get it HERE
Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? If so tell me what you thought about it!