Rated: Five Stars out of Five
Buy It Here: Amazon
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of the books I was most excited to read for the better half of 2019. It reached the point I still didn’t know why I hadn’t purchased it. Never mind opened the pages. But when it finally arrived, I beamed like a child in a candy shop.
This book was an outstanding, couldn’t-put-it-down, fabulous and well-written read that completely blew my expectations out of the water. And by I couldn’t put it down, I really mean it. I had it in my hands over two days and purposefully hid to read it.
When Monique Grant is offered a once in a lifetime reporting job, she jumps at it. This is where she meets Hollywood-ageing and reclusive movie icon, Evelyn Hugo. Monique, unbeknown to her, sits down to write the memoir of a lifetime. Of course, Monique is unsure why her. For one, she’s unknown, and with her life is crumbling around her. An ending marriage and professional life prior to meeting Evelyn going nowhere. But, when Evelyn begins to talk about her career, who she hurt and who she ran over with her ruthless ambition, Monique is sure this is what will jump-start her career. That, and Evelyn Hugo’s seven husbands, of course.
Taylor Jenkins Reid spins a glitzy, glamorous and mesmerizing journey of Hollywood, the elite and what a woman has to do to get out of Hell’s Kitchen. At times, I forgot Evelyn Hugo wasn’t a real person. Hey, maybe she is. But, her life was so full, so rich of both pain and happiness, it was almost like seeing her life story flash before my eyes. It’s the humanness and the flawed humans that really drive this story, the idea that you can have everything and still miss something. That life is simply too short.
“I spent half my time loving her and the other half hiding how much I love her.”The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
In the 1950s where Evelyn Hugo’s story begins, you don’t expect the themes that arise within the pages, even if you know—from history—they all happened to many people. The price of fame, the unfair relationship standards, the abuse women received, and how LGBTQ+ relationships were shunned—hell, even some locked up for it.
This book is life-changing because it doesn’t shy away from any of it, all being told in Evelyn’s strong and unforgiving voice that commands you to respect her for the things she did and didn’t do. And I did do, and will always do respect her. This book tackles a lot of themes, some I’ve mentioned previously above and then others like race, sexuality, and conforming to society, but that’s not all the story is about. Its also a story about loss, a love story, and how life can be so cruel and ironic it stings.
“Make them pay you what they would pay a white man.”The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
If I could high five Taylor Jenkins Reid, I would. With Monique being biracial (white and African-American) and also Evelyn Hugo being Cuban, you get the sense that while a lot of things have changed, and these women are from two different generations, and yet you see some things haven’t changed all that much. It’s a call out, a reminder that we can do better. But also a book that makes you question something you should already question. Which, is why I couldn’t put it down.
Both sides of the story make you feel things; both women are strong in their own right and reading this story felt a privilege. Evelyn refused to be beaten down by expectations thrust on her; she married seven times, with each marriage bringing her more and more fans. Monique, who is dealing with her own romance problems, becomes alive as Evelyn shares her story, and so do you as the reader.
You feel empowered, you feel strong enough to do the things you didn’t think. Suddenly you’re in the room with Monique, being looked at by Evelyn Hugo and you’re making a promise to do better.
“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
One of my very favourite things about this book is the way it deals with sexuality, more specifically Evelyn’s. Because bisexuality is hardly ever discussed like it was in this book. It isn’t ever handled with the same grace, the same glamour as this book does. It takes your breath away how Evelyn isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with Monique over her sexuality, not letting someone take that from her; it’s inspiring, especially as someone who struggles so often with naming their own sexuality, and owning who they are.
It’s also what makes the romance in this story so rich, so thought-provoking. You think about the Celia’s and the Evelyn’s and how many star-crossed lovers have lived in secret because of what everyone else will do. Love is and should be love. It’s plain and simple, and reading about the love between Celia and Evelyn is no different, it’s love plain and simple.
“Be wary of men with something to prove.”The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
If you want a book that will literally change your life, make you want to step up and demand what you want—what you deserve—but this book. It has made me a different person, and I’m so glad I didn’t get this book any sooner or later because I needed this book right when I received it. We can all stand to be a bit more like Evelyn Hugo and be brash and unforgiving with our goals; we can be Monique and take back the control of our lives, and we can all love as big and unforgiving as Celia does.
This book was both my favourite read of 2019, but also my favourite book so far. I finished it and literally wanted to pick it up again.
It felt like an honour to read it, and I cannot wait to re-read it once my copy returns from my friends’ house.