Glitz, glamor, romance, drama—The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is exactly the type of book that reminds me why I love reading! Recently, I read this much-discussed book, and I’m excited to share my spoiler-free thoughts about this sensational work of fiction!
What is this book about? Well, one day, Monique’s boss calls her into her office and explains that big-time award-winning actor Evelyn Hugo has finally agreed to do an interview, but she specifically wants Monique to do the job. Shocked by this, Monique wonders, “Why me?” Although she is a writer for the magazine called Vivant, Monique has never had the opportunity to write a story this big and doesn’t understand how her existence is even on Evelyn Hugo’s radar!
Evelyn has gained fame over the decades not only for her acting and film work, but also for the drama surrounding her tumultuous love life and seven husbands. However, Evelyn has never opened up about the details, so when she offers to divulge it all under the condition that Monique write her biography, Monique can hardly say no!
Told through Monique’s point of view and additionally alternating between Evelyn’s storytelling and snippets from periodicals, this novel is juicy, exciting, emotional, and touching. Not only did it make me feel like I needed to know Evelyn’s fascinating account, but it also moved me to tears throughout her ups and downs.
To hear more about the details of this book and my comments on the characters, the plot, and the writing, keep reading!
If you’re a reader who best enjoys books with lovable and well-rounded characters, you will enjoy this book very much! While Evelyn is clearly the main character, there is such a large cast of characters to enjoy!
The way Evelyn’s character arc progresses and matures throughout her life story is so dynamic to read about—her decisions, mistakes, and growth are abundant. She is a strong female protagonist, and as a young woman determined to “make it big,” Evelyn will use her feminine charms in any way that will help her get ahead. Plus, the book is steeped in strategy and romance, fame and public pressure, money and power, which all make for an entertaining story.
This may or may not be a spoiler, but you can also expect to see sapphic and archillean representation in this book! I had no idea that this book would contain any lesbian, bisexual, or gay characters, so I was incredibly excited to read about these relationships. I appreciated how Reid incorporated the ways that people tend to erase bisexuality by reducting bi women to “lesbians,” and how the character in question addresses that by asserting her bisexuality.
The romance in this book both sent me over the moon and sent me reaching for the tissue box, so we can add The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to the “Made Brittany Cry” book list.
This book also made me realize that I love a good drama. I was constantly wondering, “What’s Evelyn Hugo going to do next?”
Evelyn shares her story in segments, as Monique visits her condo every day to pick up where she left off. Not only does this give the reader a chance to understand Monique better in between their meetings, but it also keeps us eager to hear more about Evelyn—sort of like a soap opera!
The inclusion of periodicals from newspapers and tabloids throughout the book also enriched the reading experience for me. It was helpful to juxtapose the magazines’ stories next to the truth of Evelyn’s narrative because it emphasized the division between real life and the publicized gossip.
I should also add that the conclusion was perfect. I loved how Reid came full circle at the end, and I felt absolutely satisfied yet helplessly moved when I turned the final page.
This novel is incredibly readable, well-paced, and what I would call a page-turner, but the writing is not the book’s finest element, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is good and makes for a great read; however, the quality of a book’s writing is always something I pay careful attention to, and so I have a tendency to nitpick.
While reading, I noticed one “tick” that sort of bothered me: Reid creates way too many paragraphs. Here’s an example:
…His father had mostly played the straight man in madcap comedies, a clown. Don was out to prove he was a cowboy.
It did not help that I had just won an Audience Appreciation Award for Best Rising Star.
On the day we shot the final good-bye, where Diane and Frank kiss one last time…Page 75
While I understand that Reid likely does this in order to emphasize important sentences, I don’t think it’s always necessarily to form a new paragraph specifically for the sentence. As a writer myself, I think it’s enough to end a paragraph with a powerful sentence. The sentence “It did not help that I had just won…” should have remained with the previous paragraph because it was relevant to Don needing to prove himself, yet it would have been a good “mic drop” moment to transition to the next scene.
The effect of Reid’s constant indenting makes for choppy flow; rather than gracefully transition from paragraph to paragraph, it contains a lot more stop-and-go type writing. Honestly, though, this isn’t really a big deal; it’s pretty inconsequential and probably just her style of writing, but once I noticed it, I felt myself almost slip into “editor” mode. However, I was enjoying the story so much that I quickly shooed these critiques away from my thoughts so I could immerse myself in the plot.
I’m trying not to be super critical about the writing because most of the book is in Evelyn’s voice, and so it wouldn’t always be entirely believable if Evelyn was narrating in flowery language and fancy sentences. Evelyn is a cut-and-dry type of person, and so it makes sense that her story is told in a down-to-earth way. So, while the writing suits the story and the story’s situation, make sure you’re not expecting any Madeline Miller level of writing.
Also, I just wish there were demarcations differentiating between Monique’s and Evelyn’s narrated sections. It’s perfectly comprehensible who’s speaking when you’re reading the book, but when I’m flipping back through searching for a particular section, I have to read the first few sentences of each chapter to know whose voice it is.
If you like…
- dramas like An American Marriage or Normal People
- books set in the past such as Where the Crawdads Sing, The Vanishing Half, or Everything I Never Told You
- lesbian/gay/bisexual representation
- strong female protagonists
…then I think you will find this an enjoyable book!
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars because of the addicting story and amazing cast of characters! This is the perfect book to top off your summer reading with!
For more book reviews from Slanted Spines, visit the Book Reviews page.