Book Review - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon 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 is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: The Sunday Times Bestseller

Written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the first book discussed by Em's Book Club, and gosh, it was a brilliant one to start with! I read the book a couple of years before the club started, but it was so good that I remembered almost every page of it. That being said, my initial Goodreads review was as follows: 'it made me cry about 5 times and is therefore a 5 star', which is still accurate but possibly a little too succinct for all of my thoughts. 

I loved the split between two timelines, and felt that the time spent in both Evelyn's 1950s Hollywood and Monique's modern day interviews were well balanced. I'm always a bit hesitant about first person books as they can lean towards laziness (in my unpopular opinion!), but Evelyn's recall and reflection worked incredibly well as a framing narrative. Her chapters were immersive and dynamic, and I felt that I understood the Golden Age of Hollywood, even though this was my first exposure to it.

Evelyn Hugo felt like a real person, there's honestly no other way to explain it. She was flawed, made mistakes, and felt so incredibly human. I love main characters that are complex, and Evelyn fit this perfectly. Similarly, Monique was well-rounded, and her ever-changing perspective of Evelyn as she grew to know her kept the novel interesting.I didn't guess the reasons why Monique and Evelyn were linked until TJR pretty much told me, so I was constantly on edge, desperate to keep reading and find out. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is beautiful, heart-breaking, and glamorous, and I honestly just wish I could read it again for the first time. The members of Em's Book Club were equally as enamoured with the book, and it was a universally positive experience for everyone - a pretty rare occurrence! 

Side note: If you loved this book and you'd like to watch a TV show with queer characters in 1950s Hollywood, make sure you watch Hollywood on Netflix! It's not the most realistic ever, but it blends reality and fiction in such a fun way, with a brilliant cast. I promise I'm not sponsored, I just have a lot of feelings about it!

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