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.
“IT’S ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATING TO ME HOW THINGS CAN BE SIMULTANEOUSLY TRUE AND FALSE, HOW PEOPLE CAN BE GOOD AND BAD ALL IN ONE, HOW SOMEONE CAN LOVE YOU IN A WAY THAT IS BEAUTIFULLY SELFLESS WHILE SERVING THEMSELVES RUTHLESSLY.”
I am broken. Like sobbing on my sofa kind of broken. I am that gif of Rylan at Judges’ Houses.
Truth be told, I received a copy of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo years ago. I’m unsure whether life was just insanely busy or whether the rave reviews made me wary, but I’m sad to say that it sat on my bookshelf gathering dust until recently.
The high praise for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo couldn’t be more justified. It is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books that I have read in long, long time.
Evelyn is a character that effortlessly exudes glamour; she’s an engima, a ruthless goddess, a class of her own. I was instantly drawn into her world.
Evelyn Hugo is one of the most magnetic characters that I’ve ever encountered in all my literary adventures. She was unapologetic, with a refreshing awareness of how she was perceived as well as her actions and the consequences that followed. She basked in her power, shamelessly manipulating others to her advantage. Throughout her tumultuous Hollywood career, Evelyn has made many decisions that hurt the people around her. She’s no angel, but she’s hard to hate. A truly morally grey character that you can’t help but feel compelled and fascinated by.
Reid has succeeded in creating a character that completely embodies and exudes Old Hollywood glamour in Evelyn. Despite her being fictional, she felt completely and utterly real. Evelyn commands your attention on every page as much as the real life screen starlets of the day did.
As we learn about Evelyn’s many relationships, my heart ached for her. I loved her deeply. I revelled in her merciless ambition and tenacity at the start and, as she was swallowed further into the Hollywood machine, I was gripped as she navigated her vulnerability both as a woman and as an actress in Hollywood along with her strong-willed determination to succeed at all costs.
Her turbulent relationship with Don was gut-wrenching, her marriage to Max even more so when it becomes evident he was only interested in marrying the glamorous ideal version of her that he had in his head. Then there’s the men that Evelyn felt forced to marry to keep up appearances and save her career. Yet, it was her friendship with Harry Cameron and her bond with Celia St. James that tore me apart. I shan’t say much due to spoilers but, god, what a beautiful and tragic tale.
I’ll admit that I overlooked Monique – the journalist tasked with documenting Evelyn’s life – as I was completely entranced by Evelyn herself. Therefore, that twist at the end hit me like a ton of bricks and left me reeling for days.
For all the salacious shenanigans and nouveau riche glamour, the novel deals with some very deep and throught-provoking themes that I didn’t initially expect. This isn’t a frivolous or self-indulgent story of Hollywood excess, but actually a really poignant novel about love. Specifically, homosexual and bisexual love in an era where there was much stigma and same sex couples faced deplorable consequences. Reid also explores racism, domestic abuse, alcoholism, regret and grief within Evelyn’s story.
I loathe to use the term emotional rollercoaster for such a beautiful book, but it definitely applies. It’s heartbreaking, dramatic, crude and witty. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry, and you’ll cherish the time spent living in Evelyn Hugo’s world.
Few books have captivated me the way that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has. Evelyn casts a long shadow and leaves a truly haunting presence. I’m giddy with excitement for the Netflix adaptation.