*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*
Monique is a writer for Vivant, and before that Discourse, and before that, she was a free lancer. Now though, she has been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: to interview famous Old Hollywood starlet, Evelyn Hugo. Evelyn Hugo is giving Monique the tell-all interview of her life, including the in depth story behind each of Evelyn Hugo’s seven husbands. Throughout the interview though, Monique starts to learn more about Evelyn Hugo, as well as herself.
The plot was interesting, and it kept me engaged with what was going to happen next. I definitely think this book does revolve more around the characters of Evelyn Hugo, and Monique. With Evelyn Hugo, we simply listen to her life story; her climb to fame and everything she did to protect that fame, secrets and all. For Monique, we follow her life as she begins dealing with the process of divorcing her husband, and what that means for her in the long run, career-wise and personally. The bulk of the book focuses on the growth of Monique’s character throughout the novel as she learns more about Evelyn, and figures out how to best tell that story for Evelyn.
Monique is in her thirties, and is now dealing with having her life changed by not only the interview with Evelyn Hugo, but also her divorce. She is struggling through this point in her life, and is somewhat dealing with her own form of an existential crisis. Throughout the story, Monique evolves from where she is at when we meet her at the beginning of the novel to the end, which can be seen through the choice she ultimately made in the end (won’t say what it is because… SPOILER… as will be this next portion of the review). One aspect I found interesting about Monique was how she handled Evelyn coming out to her during the interview. Monique kept trying to label Evelyn, so that she (Monique) could process this more easily for herself. However, Evelyn argued with her, telling Monique that she may be hearing one thing, but is not thoroughly listening to what Evelyn is saying to her. That, these labels didn’t necessarily exist back in that time, and that Evelyn may very well be bisexual. However, Evelyn does know that the love of her life was one woman, but she was very well capable of loving a man.
Essentially, Monique was trying to label Evelyn in an attempt to make Monique comfortable, not to fully understand Evelyn. This point was a turning point in the novel about how Monique conducts this interview, and there are many more after that (which I won’t get into, because that would be even more spoilers).
Evelyn Hugo has many secrets that she’s kept out of the public eye, but now that she is older and closer to the end of her life, she is ready to share everything with the public. None of her loved ones are alive anymore, and she wants the stories of their love, support, her heartbreak, her flaws, the good and the bad, to be known to the public. Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author, has described Hugo as being the epitome of an Old Hollywood starlet, from the drama, to the movies, to the going on’s behind all of the glitz and glamour. We learn that not all is what it seems behind the scenes of Evelyn’s life, that there are many things that the public were not aware of, instead distracted by the public displays that Evelyn Hugo would put on to protect herself. I found Evelyn to be an interesting character because there were times you didn’t like her, times you felt bad for her, and times you rejoiced, almost as if she had been an actual person.
If there is one thing to take away from this novel, it is that Taylor Jenkins Reid knows how to write characters that feel real, and almost like someone you may have met in your life, or a starlet that you heard about from Old Hollywood.
I loved how Reid told this story, both through the interview pieces, as well as the tabloid and newspaper articles dispersed throughout the novel. The parallels between Evelyn and Monique’s lives made the themes of the story that much stronger and have that much more of an impact. Also, having Evelyn essentially be the narrator of her own story had more impact as far as the struggles and happiness throughout her life.
Reid did a wonderful job tying together the growth of the characters into the plot and the story, giving any surprises and plot twists that much more impact.
Before I go any further into my thoughts about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I want to give you a little background into how I obtained the book. Once again, I was checking out the free little library in my neighborhood, when I found the book. However, after I came back home and got a better chance to look at it, I realized that it was actually and ARC of the book. I just thought that was really cool, and wanted to share it 🤣
The story was a fun and interesting read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Overall, I give The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
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