I’ve been stuck in bed for several days and was over the moon when my Book of the Month Club book came earlier than usual. I was excited to read this book about halfway through the synopsis while picking my book for June. I am so happy I picked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
Here is the Goodreads blurb:
“From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
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.
Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth”
This book took me one day to read. I could not put it down. I have always been a huge fan of old Hollywood. Especially the secrets (I know I wasn’t the only one enamored with Feud). Taylor Jenkins Reid has done an amazing job of making her fake Old Hollywood feel like the real deal. So many of her characters felt so real, that I had to stop myself from forgetting it was fiction and trying to look up the movies she spoke about.
Evelyn Hugo is a powerful character. She is strong and fierce. She is unapologetic about her flaws, and she has many. In fact she wants the readers of her biography to be incredibly clear on that. She has made mistakes, she has hurt a lot of people, she gets that what she did to be successful wasn’t always right or okay but it’s what she had to do. Especially for her family.
Evelyn was a Cuban girl growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, she lost her mother at a young age and her father was abusive and a drunk. She developed early and fast, and made her way out to Hollywood. Like many starlets of the time, she had to shed her past and create a completely new person.
While reading I kept picturing Jayne Mansfield with her died blonde hair, stark eyebrows and large breasts (as well as her ability to stage photo ops, like Jayne and her “wardrobe malfunctions”.)
Evelyn has lead a very carefully thought out and crafted public life and has decided to share the real story with Monique and only Monique. Part of the intrigue of the book is trying to figure out why she will only tell Monique her story. She decides to take us through each one of her husbands chronologically.
We go though Evelyn’s marriages we learn more about who she is as she learns about love and acceptance, not only of others but herself as well.
My favorite part of the book is the message of people are not just one thing or another. They are not just good or bad, they are complex. Situations are never simple and never what we think they are. I am madly in love with this book and its characters.
Evelyn’s seems to be equal parts Jayne Mansfield, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor. She is not the only dynamic wonderful character. All the supporting characters are intriguing and very well fleshed out. Your heart broke for everyone. It is a great tapestry of people in Evelyn’s long life.
I cannot recommend this wonderful book enough! I really hope you check it out when it is released on June 13th!