Synopsis: 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 through the decades—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.
Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating 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 takes—to face the truth.
I received an Advance Reader’s Copy as a courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada.
Where to begin with Evelyn Hugo? This character captivated me in a way I have never experienced before. It’s hard to find characters that you simultaneously root for while also acknowledging the amount of questionable decisions they make along the way. Evelyn Hugo is a fierce, determined and ambitious woman, and we see these traits everywhere in her life, from work to her family and her love life.
This story focuses on our two main protagonists, Monique and Evelyn Hugo. Monique is the writer Evelyn specifically chooses to be the one to tell her story in the form of a memoir. She is captivated by a story Monique wrote years past and is certain that no other voice will be able to thoroughly and successfully translate into words all that the iconic Evelyn Hugo has experienced thus far. Monique’s own love life is told in parallel to Evelyn’s throughout the book, as she experiences separation and the potential for a divorce looming over her head.
The story is told in chronological order, from before fame to the final days of it and how Hugo’s life transformed the movie industry in the United States and the lives of the people surrounding her. Evelyn knows the public is eager to hear all the gossip and true events behind each one of her many failed marriages, and as she tells every detail to Monique we embark on the most extraordinary tale of romance, success, ambition and fame.
I was completely captivated by Evelyn’s story, and her success and determination to rise in one of the most competitive industries in the world, all while juggling and learning about herself with each new husband. We ultimately find out who was Evelyn’s true love and how their story unfolded and came to an end. The story is also incredibly diverse and rich, with a very prominent LGBTQ+ storyline which is written in a genuine and sincere voice. Emotions make a bigger mess of Hollywood and both Evelyn and Monique’s lives.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo had me laughing out loud, devouring each page and in uncontrollable tears at 4AM. I value my sleep, so this fact alone says lots about the kind of book Jenkins Reid has created for us. I could not bring myself to put the book down before ending the story. The chapters are not incredibly long, and the book is divided in sections by each one of her husbands throughout the years. It also contains newspaper clippings and stories written at the time about Evelyn’s life and the scandalous events surrounding each new husband along the way. I was finally left with a void in my heart because only 400 pages of Evelyn Hugo weren’t enough, I wanted to hear more and more about her.
This story was the easiest 5 out of 5 stars I have given lately. It has everything to captivate the reader and make you wonder about what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood. I now can’t wait to read other titles by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is one of the books I will likely recommend to strangers in bookstores and gift to friends and family this year.