Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Atria Books

After jury duty and a serious flu bout, I'm back to reviewing books. A word about the flu, it's awful and I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't summon the will to read. Flu shots, people.Get them. And get your daily probiotics and stay up on your vitamins. Now on to this book...

Evelyn Hugo is a piece of work. She's one of my favorite types of characters, not the sort I'd want to know IRL but is damned interesting. She's been there, done that and burned the bridge when she was finished while wearing couture. She went through eight marriages, had one child and outlived them all. She even picked up some Academy awards and lots of financial compensation along the way. She lived a life.

She doled out as much hurt as love. And in the end, she set to putting the last threads in her life in order and she finagles a writer who is less than obscure to pen her life story. The recounting of her life was simply riveting and I couldn't stop turning the pages. I'm not about the celebrity obsessions but I loved how the stagecraft of celebrity didn't end on the screen. Scripted lives were served up to a breathless public who couldn't get enough & I kind of delighted in the lies all these people told their fans. It seems only right to me to lie to people who have the temerity to think they know you or have a right to one's entire life.

I liked how the story dealt with passing in it's various forms and some of my favorite passages where about the Anglicizing Evelyn practiced so as to mute her Cuban heritage. It's understandable, given the time and options it afforded her but it's no less off-putting to see one deny who they truly are. One of my favorite passages was Evelyn recounting her realization of having done this to herself and the pain at the realization that in doing so she'd also distanced herself from her mother, a person she'd truly been loved by and loved. It was like a little Imitation of Life moment and made me wonder if Evelyn's mother had lived, would she have denied recognition of her in the street, in order to further herself in the white world she wanted most to move about in. This true identity and the denial of it whether out of necessity or ease & convenience issue rears its head in other pivotal ways for Evelyn and others throughout this story and I enjoyed it being shown in so many different ways.

I liked Monique's parallel thread of a story and how it wove into Evelyn's life. The reveal of their connection was very well done and took me by surprise. After it was done, I realized that, of course, it couldn't have been anything else and I loved that I never saw it coming. I was a bit disappointed that neither Monique's mother, nor David, Monique's estranged husband, weren't more finely drawn. I never had much of a sense of them and kept wanting more. I consider that I wanted to know more from their threads as a compliment to how well done the other characters were.

This was a wonderful read and has definitely made me push the other two books of Jenkins Reid up on my TBR list (she's one who has books that I'm apparently drawn too & buy but hadn't got around to reading until this one). This is truly the vacation read. Beach, mountains or lake, this is one to take along.

Summary: 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.

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