The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 13th by Atria
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
Today, Evelyn Hugo is 79. She is making headlines again with the impending auction of her most famous gowns.
Who is Evelyn Hugo, you ask? She is an actress, an icon. She is an Elizabeth Taylor, a Marilyn Monroe. And she hasn’t done an interview in decades.
Her people reach out to Vivant magazine, offering an exclusive interview. There is, however, a catch. Evelyn does not want just anyone interviewing her. She insists on being interviewed by Monique Grant, a veritable unknown reporter working for the magazine, writing mainly puff pieces.
Monique is shocked, and so is the editor. However, neither of them are willing to give up this amazing opportunity. Everyone has so many questions. Why Vivant? Why Monique? Why does Evelyn want to give an interview now?
When Monique gets to Evelyn’s apartment and begins the interview, Evelyn tells her she doesn’t simply want to talk about the auction. She wants to tell her life’s story.
‘I want them to know the real story. The real me.’
‘All right. Show me the real you, then. And I’ll make sure the world understands.’
At her own (sometimes aggravating) pace, Evelyn tells the tumultuous story of her life–her humble beginnings, her rise to fame, the stories behind her seven husbands. She doesn’t want people to like her–she wants to tell the truth, even the parts that don’t paint her in the best light.
The question that’s on everyone’s mind is–who was her true love? Which of her seven husbands was the one? But that’s not how this story works. You have to wait to find out.
This story is told in dual perspectives and dual timelines–we follow Evelyn in the past, and Monique in the present. We hear Evelyn’s story as she tells it to Monique.
I devoured this book over the long weekend. I quite simply couldn’t put it down. I was completely enthralled by the dazzling creature that is Evelyn Hugo. She is ruthless but not remorseless, kind but calculating, ambitious but thoughtful. She is a study of opposites.
The way Monique feels about her is a pretty good summation:
I hate Evelyn, but I think I like her very much. I wish she had never existed, and yet I can’t help but admire her a great deal.
Evelyn is one of my favourite kind of characters. She is compelling and complex, sometimes unlikable but not irredeemable, and just completely, unapologetically herself. She may have been willing to hide or change certain parts of herself–her hair, her name, her ethnicity, her love–but she was always Evelyn. And I loved joining her on her journey navigating Old Hollywood.
This book was exciting, fun, and compelling. It’s a great story about people, perseverance, and overcoming. It’s about the difference between forgiveness and absolution. If this book isn’t on your TBR, it should be. I foresee at Taylor Jenkins Reid back list binge in my future.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.