Book Reviews,  books

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Book Review

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of those books that I knew I would love within a few pages of starting to read it. I hadn’t even considered reading it before, in the belief that it wouldn’t be my thing. But seeing as it was my work book club choice, I thought I’d give the book a whirl.

The story follow Monique Grant, a reporter for Vivant magazine, who has been selected to interview Evelyn Hugo, a reclusive former star. Evelyn is auctioning some of her famous gowns to raise money for a breast cancer charity. Monique doesn’t understand why Evelyn has chosen her, but nonetheless goes to Evelyn’s apartment to meet her. Evelyn reveals she has no interest in giving an interview for Vivant but instead wants Monique to write her life story, and Monique agrees, though she is suspicious.

Evelyn Hugo is the heart of this book and she’s so well-drawn that it would be easy to think that Evelyn exists. In fact, ‘is Evelyn Hugo real?’ is an genuinely searched for topic on Google. Evelyn is a complex character, with many shades of grey.  Her childhood is marked by sadness, poverty, and family dysfunction. She reminded me somewhat of Scarlett O’ Hara in Gone With The Wind in her single-minded determination to improve her life, even if it means using others.

The depiction of Old Hollywood is fantastically rendered. Evelyn sees it as a man’s world, but uses this to her advantage. She capitalises on the industry’s sexism and plays them at their own game. I loved this- the manipulations, the schemes the plans.

But what makes this book compulsively readable is the fact that all is not as it seems. At first I thought that seven husbands was a little excessive, but after reading the novel and encountering each of the husbands, a lot of things become clearer. The media extracts scattered throughout the book show the dramatic contrast between private and public life. And it contains an excellent depiction of an LGBT relationship.

Jenkins Reid’s prose is startlingly clear but also vivid and descriptive. The novel is hugely engaging and I struggled to put it down. It is easy to read, but also dealt with quite deep themes.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will attract readers drawn to the glamour of Hollywood film stars or who enjoy plots with strong female characters.


Leave a Reply