The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

- Taylor Jenkins Reid


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 in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.



Film legend and ’60s It Girl Evelyn Hugo has just announced that she will auction of 12 of her most memorable gowns through Christie’s to raise money for breast cancer research.


almost perfect:
It’s so nice when a book lives up to its hype.

Here's the thing about Hollywood. It's both a place and a feeling. If you run there, you can run toward Southern California, where the sun always shines and the grimy buildings and dirty sidewalks are replaced by palm trees and orange groves. But you also run toward the way life is portrayed in the movies.

You run toward a world that is moral and just, where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, where the pain you face is only in an effort to make you stronger, so that you can win that much bigger in the end.

It would take me years to figure out that life doesn't get easier simply because it gets more glamorous. But you couldn't have told me that when I was fourteen.

It could have been so easy for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to be dull or run long. An aging star talking incessantly about her seven marriages? I’ve put off reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for so long precisely because I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about and wasn’t ready to be disappointed by another BookTok dud. It’s wonderful to be wrong, particularly in this instance. Evelyn’s monologue, though long, is anything but boring. Jenkins Reid lets just enough of the outside world, Monique’s world, peek through to keep the pace moving, but the true beauty comes from Evelyn’s story.

"So this book, your biography ... you're ready to come out as a gay woman?"

Evelyn closes her eyes for a moment, and at first I think she is processing the weight of what I've said, but once she opens her eyes again, I realize she is trying to process my stupidity.

"Haven't you been listening to a single thing I've told you? I loved Celia, but also, before her, I loved Don. In fact, I'm positive that if Don hadn't turned out to be a spectacular asshole, I probably never would have been capable of falling in love with someone else at all. I'm bisexual. Don't ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box, Monique. Don't do that."

Jenkins Reid has a gift for pacing and narrative. I was so captivated by this story I never wanted to put it down and devoured every page. Evelyn’s longing for fame and love was intoxicating, especially when they seemed destined to be at cross purposes. I loved not only her willingness to do whatever it takes but the brazen way she takes responsibility for her actions. Well, that might not be the right way to put it. She’s not really taking responsibility; she’s just admitting her past choices, which is out of the ordinary for the time, at least for women. Nevertheless, I appreciate her candour, even when she’s not entirely proud of her own actions.

The problem was, I used my body to get other things I wanted. And I didn't stop doing that, even for her. That's my tragedy. That I used my body when it was all I had, and then I kept using it even when I had other options. I kept using it even when I knew it would hurt the woman I loved. And what's more, I made her complicit in it. I put her in a position to continually have to approve of my choices at her own expense. Celia may have left me in a huff, but it was a death by a thousand cuts. I hurt her with these tiny scratches, day after day. And then I got surprised when it left a wound too big to heal.

I have to admit I wasn’t very interested in the ‘twist’ or the ‘big reveal’ as to why Monique was chosen to tell Evelyn’s story. It wasn’t very surprising, and honestly, a ‘hook’ wasn’t necessary. I would’ve been happy just learning about Evelyn’s life.



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