Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo || Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid || Audiobook Narrators : Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, Robin Miles || Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult || Publisher: Atria Books || Year of publication: 2017|| No. of pages: 388 || Available at Amazon, Bookdepository and Bol.com
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life and Monique Grant, a relatively unknown magazine reporter, is the only person she wants to tell her story to. The question is why her and why now?
The story of Evelyn’s life is a tale that spans decades from the 1950’s till the late 80’s. And as we learn about Evelyn’s ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship and a great forbidden love, we also learn about the irreversible and tragic way her life intersects with Monique’s.
When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things. If you learn one thing from me, it should probably be that.
Why should you pick up this book and/or audiobook?
Because Evelyn Hugo’s fictional tale reads like a real life Hollywood memoir and it turns out it’s totally worthy of all the booktube and goodreads hype.
I certainly got the Hollywood glamour and scandal that was expected, but I was not mentally prepared for the level of intrigue the duplicitous powerhouse Evelyn Hugo provided me with. This character is so marvelously complex that by the end of the book you will not know if you should embrace her despite of all her flaws or strangle her because of her flaws. She is ruthlessly ambitious, unapologetically manipulative, she most definitely knows the value of her physical assets and will use all she’s got to get what she wants. She would’ve been a most unlikable person, were it not that when she starts to divulge her secrets, her motives become clear and even her worst decisions are ultimately comprehensible to the reader. That being said, the fact that you might understand, does not mean you’ll always agree.
While Evelyn is without a doubt the iconic focal point of the novel. This story would not be as impactful without its supporting cast of mostly misogynistic men and the somewhat fame hungry women. Although none of these women (or men) are anywhere near as cutthroat as Evelyn. One of the best parts is the interwoven synchronicity which is presented in the way the interview influences Monique Grant to demand more out of life. While listening to Evelyn’s story she is slowly but surely emboldened to ask for what she thinks she deserves and actually ends up getting what she wants.
On the surface this is just another Hollywood Star-is-born story of romance, drama and devastation. But as soon as the themes that are touched upon between those lines, start to leap of the page and slowly get under your skin, you’ll have no choice but to recognise that this is something totally different. It’s not just Evelyn’s approach to truth and honesty that will have you turning those pages, it’s also topics like misogyny, female ambition and power, exploring of female sexuality, abuse, erasure of ethnicity, LGBTQ+ topics, public perception, fame and the complexity of relationships.
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
What are the cons?
If like me, you are roped in after the very first chapter … this book might have a slightly negative effect on your social life. You will not be able to put it down and the fact that you’ll want to know why Monique Grant is the only one who gets to interview Evelyn and which one of those husbands was the love of her life, are just a few of many reasons. Since books are pretty much my social life, I had no issues with this part of the reading experience.
What is so remarkable about this book? (might be a bit spoilery)
I believe the allover structure of the novel is the main reason why this book does not drag…ever. The fact that Evelyn tells her story in chronological order, could’ve resulted in a very uneventful boring read. But the fictitious tabloid magazine articles inform the reader on the shifts in public perception and also provide context for how certain themes are handled during different times in history. The fact that Evelyn Hugo’s interview is presented as a story within a story allows the reader to look at past events through modern day glasses and also leaves room for tons of foreshadowing to drive the plot. All the aforementioned is especially important when it comes to the LGTBQ+ related themes. In the 50’s and 60’s (at that time illegal in 49 states in the US) was still considered sodomy and punishment ranged from a fine to imprisonment. The mention of the Stonewall Riots is therefore a very important time in history cause on June 28th 1968 this event is what sparked what is now known as the Modern Day Gay Liberation movement.
Verdict = ☆☆☆☆☆
This book (or audiobook) manages to shed a very realistic light on relevant themes and educate the reader (provided that you are not informed on certain topics before picking this book up) and does this without losing the power to captivate and entertain.
☆ = bad | ☆☆ = okay-ish | ☆☆☆ = fun | ☆☆☆☆ = amazing | ☆☆☆☆☆ = exceptional