Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Historical fiction, LGBTQ+
Book Aesthetic: Wearing emeralds and sipping champagne, knowing the kind of power you have over people, making decisions disregarding society and their expectations, living life on your terms and doing whatever it takes for love.
I have always been the kind of person who can differentiate between the characters in a movie or tv show and the actors who are playing those characters. And for me, it’s always about the characters. I fall in love with them. I don’t quite care about the celebrities playing them or ever obsessively look them up and follow their life events or care about their romantic relationships and scandals.
So, to read, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, a book that talks about the life of a fictional, iconic Hollywood celebrity would have seemed very laughable to me. But having read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other book – Daisy Jones & The Six – that follows a fictional iconic singer and band, I knew not only would I read this book but that I would very much enjoy it.
Who is Evelyn Hugo?
She is ‘A style icon of the 50s, turned sexpot in the 60s and 70s and Oscar winner in the 80s, who made a name for herself with her voluptuous figure, her daring film roles, and her tumultuous love life.’
That’s how the newspapers in this book would describe this Hollywood celebrity. I, on the other hand, would describe her as a woman who was smart enough to know and brave enough to make the choices she had to, first for her own safety and wellbeing, and then to get everything that she desired in her life.
She was one of those women who saw that the world she lived in was very disadvantaged for her sex but she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of living the life that she wanted.
What’s the book about?
The book starts when Evelyn Hugo is 79 and decides to tell her story. The story behind her seven husbands and behind all her scandals, rumours, and glory. She knows the media and people always painted her in the way they best found convenient or desriable but that’s exactly why no one really knows her or her true story. And now finally, she decides to tell it all. But only to one person.
This person happens to be Montique, a 30-something journalist working at a magazine at NYC. She isn’t famous, she hasn’t yet written something that noticeable that a star like Evelyn will know about her, reach out to her and ask her to write her biography. But she does. That question of, ‘why Montique?’ keeps you very curious throughout the book.
But the real highlight is Evelyn and her very colourful, full, questionable and exciting life. The book chronologically explores it all and you can’t keep it down. Even if, in reality like me you are someone who can’t be bothered about celebrity gossip because while at the surface it may seem about that, it really is not.
Okay, what’s the book really about?
The one thing everyone was always curious about was, who, out of Evelyn’s seven husbands was her one true love. And this book really answers that. In answering that, what it really does is explore emotions and relationships central to what it means to being human. Family and friendship. Love and hate. Lies and the truth.
The answer is one you won’t expect when you start this book and for me that, the answer so unexpected and beautiful and messy, makes this book interesting and heartfelt.
How does it compare to Daisy Jones & The Six?
In terms of its format and premise, it’s very similar to Daisy Jones & The Six. Both the books are equally brilliant and quite the page-turners. They also explore human emotions and the decisions that they make through iconic fictional celebrities.
However, the way they are different is the lenses and the grey shades through which these themes are explored. Hence, the reading experience both these books has to offer is quite different yet equally enjoyable.
But there was something missing
While I rated this book 4 stars and will truly say that I 100% enjoyed the experience of reading this book, I can’t really say that I ‘loved’ the book. To love a book for me, means to have something about it stay with me even once I’m done with it.
With The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, that’s not the case. It’s a very in-the-moment kind of book. It fulfills the purpose of entertaining you and you want to keep going back to it until you’re through. And that’s completely okay because it’s still a great book!
However, I think for me, this book could have been even better and more wholesome if, Monique, the journalist’s life and emotions were explored better. I get that this book is about Hugo and not Monique, but she is also a secondary character and our part-narrator. Taking in Evelyn’s life story which is A LOT could have had an interesting impact on Monique’s life. While the author has tried to do that, I think it was very basic and I didn’t get any of the feels.
But this doesn’t takeaway from the fact that the book is great as is.