Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Heartbreak is loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.

~ Taylor Jenkins Reid

Synopsis

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

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 – 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…

Review

I started listening to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on audiobook; however, I ended up buying the book so that I could find out what happened sooner.

Ignoring the hype around this book had been really hard, as everyone was raving about it. And now I can see why.

While the silver screen glamour of Old Hollywood is appealing in itself, Evelyn Hugo was something else entirely. This book captures the harsh, often brutal, realities of stage and screen: its politics, stress and betrayal. It may be beautiful on the outside, but inside it’s ugly, cruel and lonely.

Forbidden love, abusive relationships and prejudice are all tackled, but they are written so well that nothing is forced or unrealistic. Each character has their own secrets to hide and tales to tell, yet they are relatable, despite being – for the most part – unlikeable. From spoilt brat Celia to self-loathing Monique, the characters are interesting, well-researched and engaging. There is also a good mix of diversity represented in the book, which is great to see.

Stories from past and present are gently interwoven and the twists and turns of Evelyn’s turbulent relationships are full of surprises. The pace is quick and although some husbands receive more words than others, none of them feel rushed or overlooked.

Readers may go into this expecting the usual tales of wedded woes, but this is so much more. It’s romantic, scandalous and delicious.

This was my first book by Jenkins Reid. It won’t be my last.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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