To be honest I was excited but also a bit nervous to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’ve heard SO many AMAZING things about this book, and I was worried that I got caught up in the hype and…. well, get disappointed. But once I started reading this book, I could not stop. This novel is as good as people made it out to be and MORE. Hands down, it is my favourite read of this year so far. I am excited to share this spoiler-free review with you guys.
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 near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing 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 costs—to face the truth.
Evelyn Hugo was a bigger-than-life film star, but before that, she was a girl living with her abusive father in the poorer side of town. As a child, Evelyn knew that she was meant for greater things, and so she started climbing up the ladder of life. Evelyn was a fascinating character. She was manipulative, calculating and ambitious. She approached the most dire of situations with a calm head, and she always ensured that she came up on top. As a woman who rose to fame in the 50s and 60s, Evelyn had to fight her way to the top in a man’s world.
Decades later, Monique, a young journalist who hadn’t broken out yet, got an offer that she couldn’t refuse: Evelyn Hugo wanted to tell her, of all people, the real story about each of Evelyn’s husbands and the person that she loved the most. Monique was just getting out of a failing relationship, still figuring her way around the world. As she learned more about Evelyn, she also learned more about herself.
The characters were the absolute highlight of this novel. I loved that both Evelyn and Monique were complex and multi-faceted characters. I was inspired by Evelyn’s drive and impressed by the schemes that she came up with. I loved that Evelyn was a flawed character, and that she would eventually come to terms with the things that she’d done and the decisions that she made. I felt that Monique was slightly overshadowed by Evelyn in this novel (but how could anyone not be overshadowed by Evelyn?) however I liked that she was grounded and real. She was relatable as a young woman trying to make it in the real world, and seeing Evelyn’s story through her eyes helped me understand Evelyn more as well.
Each of the secondary characters in the novel had unique and contrasting personalities. Even though some of the characters were not likeable, they were imaginably human, with their good and bad sides. I loved that each of the relationships in this novel was complex, some of which defied the categories of friend, lover, and family.
In this novel, Evelyn Hugo told Monique about each of her seven husbands. I found that the book cover and even the blurb were highly misleading. This novel was more than a story about fame and glamour, even more than a story about achieving one’s ambitions. It was a story about love and friendship and everything in between.
The pacing of the story was superb. No matter where I was in the novel, I always wanted to continue reading. I was always curious to find out about who the next husband was, and more than that, Evelyn was such a fascinating character that I wanted to know more about her.
The best kind of writing is the kind that makes you forget that you are reading, and this was what I found in this novel. The writing flowed seamlessly. The dialogues were insightful and authentic. I felt that the characters could have been real.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 stars!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was an amazing novel about one woman’s rise to fame. It was about love, though it was much more than a love story. If you enjoy books with vibrant characters and an intriguing story, I cannot recommend a book more.