The Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the best book I have ever read. Taylor Jenkins Reid is known for her amazing characters and real stories. I didn’t plan on reading this book, even though I have read other books of hers like Maybe in Another Life or One True Love, which I adored. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo wasn’t translated in my first language, which put me off from the beginning. But now I regret waiting for so long because this book had a big impact on my life.
Evelyn Hugo, a glamorous Hollywood icon and actress, is in her late 70s. She has lost everyone she once loved, so she is finally ready to tell the truth of her controversial life and the story behind her seven husbands, that everyone is dying to know about. She chooses Monique Grant, a low-profile journalist from Brooklyn, to write her biography. Monique herself is surprised about this decision. She is in the middle of a divorce and struggles with her career. So why would one of the most famous women alive choose her to tell this story? Monique takes on the opportunity and meets Hugo to learn all about her extraordinary life, from being an unknown girl in a broken family in the 1950s, who had to marry at a young age, to transforming into a movie star. But as her story unfolds, we find out about the tragic truth behind her decision of picking Monique.
Evelyn Hugo is the most authentic and realistic character I have ever found in a book. Reid created such a tangible character that I actually googled Evelyn Hugo multiple times, to see if she was a real person. She knows what she wants and tries everything to achieve her goals. Therefore, she is ambitious and calculated, but also attractive, clever, passionate, mysterious, and sometimes naïve. She has many different sides and despite her thrilling career, she is always down to earth. Evelyn makes mistakes and is sometimes helpless, but that is what makes her affable and an amazing character. She is the self-determined woman we all want to be and look up to.
Monique, on the other hand, has a completely different personality. Her husband has left her and moved to another city. She is still not over him and struggles with that new situation of being on her own. As a mixed-race woman with an uncertain career, many people wrongfully underestimate her, which sometimes contributes her already low self-esteem. She isn’t happy with herself and does not know her worth as a writer.
The book is divided into seven chapters, each dedicated to one of Evelyn’s husbands and the different stages of her life. She lost her mum to pneumonia when she was eleven. So when Evelyn married her first husband at the young age of 15 all she wanted was to leave her abusive father and her small home behind, to become a great actress. She lived in an era when misogyny, homophobia, and racism were normal. But Evelyn always knew how to get what she wanted, so she downplayed her Cuban identity, gave herself a new name, and did everything to climb up the career ladder. It was heartbreaking to see how Evelyn struggled to find what she was seeking: love, family, and security.
It didn’t feel like I was reading a book, it felt like I was listening to Monique and Evelyn talking about how they both tried to survive. I’m not bisexual, nor a woman of colour, but because of Reid’s way of writing I was invested in their story and I could relate to them. Every time Monique entered Evelyn’s apartment to interview her, I sat there with them and listened to what Evelyn had to say to me, almost like we were friends. From beginning to end the book was so emotional it made me cry several times whilst reading. It was an unputdownable emotional rollercoaster.
I’m still thinking about Evelyn and her memorable life. The book made me realise life is too short to do what other people expect from you. You should always go after what you want and choose what makes you happy. You should always tell your loved ones how much you love them because you never know when it will be too late. This book was like a life lesson from a famous and well-known fictional actress, who seemingly has everything, but in the end, has nothing, and she knows it.
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