Published: June 2017 by Atria Books
Genre: Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I read this book earlier on in the summer and wrote most of a review when I finished it, but then never got around to polishing it up and posting. So now, with summer coming to a close, I thought I ought to go ahead and put it out there. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo could probably be considered one of THE books of the summer. Seriously, this book has been everywhere, both in and out of the book blogging world. It was an enjoyable and surprising read for me, and so even though you’ve probably all been inundated with reviews on this one, here are a few of my thoughts!
I spent months anticipating this one. I was a new Taylor Jenkins Reid fan when this book was announced, having just finished my first of her novels, One True Loves. I had been encouraged by the many posts around Bookstagram that were singing its praises and I picked it up. It did not disappoint; it was my first Jenkins Reid novel but I knew it would not be my last. When I started hearing about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I knew I had to read it. A story set in 60s Hollywood, with stardom, fashion, and lots of drama? Yes please!
For those of you who have been living under a rock (or maybe you just don’t spend all your free time reading and talking about books…) and don’t know what Evelyn Hugo’s about, it’s the story of an aging film star, who decides to tell her life story to Monique, a young writer (who is shocked by Evelyn’s request). The book details the seven marriages of Evelyn, following her from the start of her career as an actress to her disappearance from the spotlight. Lying underneath this fascinating and compelling story is the question of why Evelyn has chosen to reveal her story to Monique in the frist place.
Going into this novel, I expected a fun, sexy, drama-filled summer read. I got all of those things for sure. This book is exciting and dramatic–it pulled me in from the very start and kept me hooked through all seven husbands. What I wasn’t expecting was to also get a book full of strong (read: badass) female characters. I got a book about fighting for what you want and trying to remain true to yourself. I got a book about sexism in the film industry. I got a book about being a woman in a male dominated culture. I got a book about sexuality and love. I got a book that turned out to be much more than just a fun summer read. There was a depth here, and a subject matter, that was more than romantic fluff. (I don’t want to go into too many details or else I’ll get into spoiler territory).
I loved reading about Evelyn. I loved how unapologetically she tells her story–how she never tries to paint herself in a different light in order to make herself seem like a better person. She just tells her story, and she tells it honestly. She’s strong-willed, opinionated, sometimes selfish and a little cruel. She’s a badass female who built herself up from nothing with no regrets.
I wish we had more characters like Evelyn.
I will say that I wished there had been more time and effort put into the character of Monique. It’s been a little while since I read this book and I had to look back in order to remember her name. She was kind of forgettable. While I was reading I found it hard to feel any connection to her, found it hard to care much about her story. The “big reveal” as to why Evelyn Hugo had chosen to reveal her story to her fell flat for me, and I think it’s because I just didn’t know her well enough to care all that much.
I don’t mean to say that I disliked Monique or that particular storyline. On the contrary, I liked it a lot and feel that it deserved a little more attention. Obviously the real story lies with Evelyn… but because Taylor Jenkins Reid chose to tell the story with Monique, I thought that she deserved some more page time. (Did anyone else feel that way? I’d love to know.)
There was so much hype around this book. While it was maybe a little extreme, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you pick this one up! If you’re looking for the greatest literary novel ever written, this one probably isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a fun summer read with a strong female character that will take you by surprise, give it a try.