Published by Simon and Schuster on June 13, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Historical, Women
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (4 out of 5)
I devoured The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Evelyn Hugo is a wonderfully complex character. She is driven, calculated, and stubborn. The story of her rise to fame was tough to put down. This is the perfect book to get you out of a reading slump. Unfortunately, my reading experience was diminished by too high of expectations (thanks a lot Bookstagram).
Evelyn Hugo is a major bombshell Hollywood actress from the 1950’s to 80’s. Off the screen Evelyn was frequently in the tabloids because of her tumultuous love life, which included a whopping seven marriages. In the present-day Evelyn selects a seemingly unknown journalist, Monique, to conduct her first interview in years. At their first meeting Monique is shocked when Evelyn tells her she doesn’t want her to write a magazine article, but instead wants to share her entire life story, to be written as a tell-all book. Monique cannot turn down this career-changing opportunity, but she also wonders why Evelyn selected her to write her biography. The novel then follows Evelyn’s retelling of her scandalous life including the story behind each of her seven marriages.
This is my favorite story that focuses on the price of fame. Evelyn’s story is so salacious and fun to read. Reid includes gossip articles interspersed between chapters of the book, which I thought was a nice touch. Comparing Evelyn’s true story with what was reported in gossip columns showed how she excelled at controlling her public image. She even hides her ethnicity to appeal to the mainstream. Evelyn is Cuban, but has herself remade in appearance, accent, and name to pass as white. Reid writes Evelyn as a morally ambiguous character. I respect her drive and determination to be a famous and successful movie star. But I am also frustrated by her repeatedly choosing to damage her relationships to further her career. She denies herself romantic relationships with people she loves in favor of toxic marriages that grow her stardom. I also enjoy how Monique is influenced by Evelyn’s story and changes over the course of the novel. Lastly, the story has LGBTQ representation, which I always appreciate.
Don’t be mistaken, this is a great book, but I question whether it deserves all the 5-star reviews on Goodreads. It is impossible to avoid this book’s massive hype. So unfortunately, I was expecting a lot. Have high expectations ruined your reading experience? Some of the book’s twists were predictable. Also, the formula of telling the story of each of Evelyn’s marriage becomes a bit repetitive by the end. By the fourth marriage I was thinking: we get it; Evelyn marries to advance her career, not for love. And sometimes I was irked by Reid’s blatant teasing of the reader. Many chapters ended with lines like this: “I have no idea that in less than a week, Evelyn Hugo will finish her story, and I’ll find out what this has all been about, and I will hate her so much that I’ll be truly afraid I might kill her.” I admit these lines were effective because I kept reading, but they also felt like cheap tricks. My husband says that these lines read like a 11-year-old’s first attempt at creative writing(!)
Despite this book being overly hyped, it is worth the read. This is the perfect choice for a light read at the beach or while on vacation. Evelyn Hugo is certainly an unforgettable character.