Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Review The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Adult | Contemporary | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Library
Format: Physical

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 in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways (goodreads)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was heartbreaking. 
Plot: On the surface level, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is an unassuming book, but its pages are filled with sacrifice, growth, and difficult choices. I was pulled into this book with its realistic dialogue and page-turning flow. 

I honestly didn't expect to be in tears by the end of this book, but that's what happened. Twice. Jenkins Reid took the reader through Evelyn's life, from her teenage years struggling to get to Hollywood to her years as a lonely elderly woman. There was a great discussion about prescribing labels onto people, whether it was sexual orientation or racial identity.

 Outside of Evelyn's story, there was Monique's struggle to find herself. While Monique was a clear side story, the author explored how Evelyn Hugos' life decisions helped influence some decisions that Monique had to make in modern day. 

What made The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo such a seductive read was that it was told through Evelyn's voice during her life in Hollywood with excerpts from tabloids making claims about Evelyn's personal life. There were also short chapters told from Monique's perspective regarding her thoughts on her interactions with Evelyn and her impending divorce. All of it came together to make a page-turner that will have you sneaking pages during work (speaking from personal experience). 

Characters: Taylor Jenkins Reid knows how to write complicated characters. Evelyn Hugo was such a messy woman; she was determined to be on top and she was also ruthless in the sacrifices she was willing to make to keep her happiness. 

While the chronological retelling about how she met and divorced all seven of her husbands may have the reader thinking that the focus was the man in question, but it was actually about Evelyn's state during the marriage and what realizations she had about herself. By the end of this book, I was convinced that Evelyn Hugo was a real Hollywood star that I could google and read old articles about, that's how real she felt. 

Worldbuilding: What had me glued to the pages of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the author's depiction of Old Hollywood. Over the span of Evelyn's professional career as an actress, we got a glimpse into the impossible standards Hollywood had for women, the double standards between men and women, and how those in the LGBTQiA+ community were viewed, and how the treatment of the LGBTQiA+ community evolved over the years. I can easily see this book becoming a movie, in fact, I need this to be a movie!

Short N Sweet: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will be a book that you'll think about for days. Don't sleep on this book!


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