An unexpected masterpiece.
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.
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication: June 13, 2017 by Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Target audience: Adult
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Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.
I discovered this book on goodreads. When The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo came out, it seemed to be the only thing everyone wanted to talk about. I was a bit sceptic to be honest. A movie icon that’s been married 7 times? That woman would probably be a spoiled (pardon me) bitch that only cares for herself and her fame. But that’s not quite what we get.
We meet Evelyn Hugo, a woman desperate to escape her former life, willing to do almost everything to achieve her dreams. She’s is not a nice person, but her ambition and ruthlessness make you admire her nonetheless. She is disillusioned with the world, knows its horrors and unfairness.
Basically, she’s the original Slytherin.
But that’s not the only side to her. On her way to the top, she finds friendship and love and family. It is not only herself she has to protect know but also her loved ones.
‘Nothing means anything without you,’ she said. ‘Everything that isn’t you is a pile of dog shit.’
I loved seeing old Hollywood behind-the-scenes and the machinations that controlled showbiz. Friendships barely existed, everyone just focused on their own success. You were friends as long as you had the same enemy and that’s it. The few real friendships seemed even more precious and pure because of that.
People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.
Other important themes are beauty and sexuality. Evelyn Hugo is beautiful, there’s no doubting that. She knows it and everyone else knows it too. Her beauty has brought her far but she knows that it cannot give her everything. People see only her body, her fame, her image, without seeing her true self. She can never be sure if they liker her for herself or for being Evelyn Hugo.
But I already knew he thought I was the most gorgeous woman there. I knew, very acutely, that if he did not believe that, he would not have been with me. Men were almost never with me for my personality. I’m not suggesting that charming girls should take pity on the pretty ones. I’m just saying it’s not so great being loved for something you didn’t do.
Evelyn Hugo is not above using her body to get what she wants. Sometimes, that gets her into trouble, but it is all in all one of her greatest weapons. She knows the power she has over others and she doesn’t hesitate to use it.
That is the fastest way to ruin a woman’s reputation, after all – to imply that she has not adequately threaded the needle that is being sexually satisfying without ever appearing to desire sexual satisfaction.
I love the way this story is told. We switch between first person narrators Monique and Evelyn and it just works.
There is no real plot twist in this book (but some things are still unexpected, so I recommend you not to read every review you encounter. Some people don’t get it that you don’t need to know everything before going into a book). We know that Monique’s and Evelyn’s lives are somehow connected. There are several mentions and hints throughout the book and instead of shocking you with revelation after revelation, anticipation slowly builds. You suspect – maybe even know – what is going on and just want to see it confirmed.
I feel like I actually know these characters. Taylor Jenkins Reid made them so real, I couldn’t help but feel with them. I admit that I got teary-eyed a few times.
This review doesn’t really manage to convey my feelings towards this book but well… This has definitely become a favourite of mine. I don’t know how I can hate and love Evelyn Hugo at the same time but that’s just how it is.
The hype is real.
Have you read this book? If yes, how did you like it? If not, do you want to read it? Let me know down below in the comments!