This review is spoiler-free!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 13th 2017 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 391 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
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 is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerizing 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 costs–to face the truth.
I hate to be yet another book blogger praising the hell out of an already over-praised book, buuut … god, this was a good book. Not PERFECT, not even AMAZING, but goddamn good. There was only one little (or, well, okay, it’s actually a pretty big one, but in retrospect it’s small for me) problem, honestly.
This was so, so, so close to being a five-star read for me. Because this review is spoiler-free, I can’t explain exactly why it ended up not being a solid five-star, but I will tell you it had to do with a specific twist that’s basically the big twist to the entire book. If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know which twist I’m talking about, and maybe even why I feel the way I do about it. It just made the whole story fall flat for me, especially because it concerns a trope I loathe to see in books.
(Yes, I know I loathe a lot of tropes. That should help for the mystery of which one I mean for those who haven’t read the book yet and don’t want to be spoiled.)
That aside, this was such a good book. I can see why it got all the praise it ended up with, because the story is not only extremely engaging, but Evelyn Hugo is fascinating. Reid writes her so well, I walked away from this book feeling like Evelyn Hugo actually existed and I’d seen her story somewhere along the way, despite that being absolutely untrue. Reid is just that good. Hell, I cared way more for Evelyn’s story than I did for anything regarding Monique, even though Monique was the one getting the story out of Evelyn for me to read.
I’m also aware, however, that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the book as much if Monique had been struck from the narrative completely and I only got Evelyn’s story. I think I could have just done with less Monique in general, but I liked the book enough for it really not to deter me from finishing the book by any means.
I’m also totally prepared to pick up any other book Reid writes along the historical fiction vein, because I think she might be one of my favorite authors for the genre, and I’m so ready for more.
(Spoiler alert from future me now scheduling this post: we have Daisy Jones and the Six! Get ready!)
Thanks for reading!