The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
We’re starting 2019 off with an emotional roller coaster.
My first book of 2019, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, has ruined all other books this year for me. What a powerful, poignant, tragic tear-jerker of a read. I had expected to feel my heart yearn for Evelyn Hugo, to be blown away by her story, but not like this.
Set in present day New York, small time writer Monique Grant has been requested personally by Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo to write the book of her life. At 75, she has a lot to tell, with most of her personal life a mystery from the press, apart from her notorious seven husbands. Starting in the 40s as the daughter of Cuban immigrants in Hell’s Kitchen, the book travels from Hugo’s early beginnings as a young actress, through each of her romantic entanglements and onscreen roles to the household name she is today. But the question is, why now? And why is she adamant that her story be told by self-proclaimed nobody Monique Grant?
I could write one thousand love letters to Evelyn Hugo. But I think they would all say the same thing, and that is thank you.
If her biography was real, I know it would change lives, it would change opinion, and it make a whole bunch of people feel hope. As a bisexual woman, reading this novel about a fictional bisexual woman, I felt hope. Not only was Hugo’s experiences relatable (although not that relatable because, believe it or not, I am not a Hollywood starlet), but they were raw and real that I don’t think I’ve ever read a depiction of a bisexual woman that felt so accurate. One experience may not be universal, but Taylor Jenkins-Read certainly hit me in the heart pretty hard.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tackles a lot of topics, some better than others. I understand that isn’t always a great thing. Bundling up too much into one story can make you lose focus. It can champion one thing while getting another completely wrong. But a story as large as this does not (and should not) have to be about every little thing. It does not have to go into detail, and I feel like if it had, only then would it have looked too try hard. However, I understand that some things at the end did not sit well with others. But for me, it did not ruin the book, only amped up the cry factor to about fifty million.
And I cried a lot.
If you want a character driven story that’s heart-wrenching and beautiful and sad, I would pick up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I would pick it up if you want to see the real side of Hollywood, and how LGBTQ+ people were, and often still are, treated when it comes to fame and the spotlight. And when you’re done, come cry with me about it in my DMs.