Published by Atria Books
Publication date: June 13th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is catnip to anyone who loves old movies. In Evelyn, Taylor Jenkins Reid has created an amalgam of all the old glamor girls: Lana Turner and Elizabeth Taylor for their multiple marriages and off-screen shenanigans, Joan Crawford’s ruthlessness, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra…if you’ve read as many biographies of Hollywood stars as I have there is something or someone to recognize on every page. Which isn’t to say that the novel is warmed over Hollywood trivia. No. Reid takes these well-known facts and spins them into a brand-new story, one that, while it reiterates the ugly aspects of the film industry and the media around it, also gives a peek into how smart stars found ways to manipulate the system right back.
The plot is a clever one—a young magazine writer is offered the chance to interview a famous actress about an upcoming charity event. When Monique Grant arrives at Evelyn Hugo’s Manhattan penthouse she’s told by Evelyn that what she really wants is to write a tell-all and Monique is the writer she’s chosen. The caveat? She can’t release it until Evelyn’s death, meaning that even though Evelyn is 79, the payoff could be years away. From there, the novel proceeds through Evelyn’s retelling of her life to Monique. And what a life. Yes, seven husbands but only one true love. A personal life that often wasn’t personal at all. A career that stopped and started based solely on Evelyn’s indomitable will to succeed.
“First, you have to push people’s boundaries and not feel bad about it. No one is going to give you anything if you don’t ask for it. You tried. You were told no. Get over it.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is filled with sharp writing and the kind of nuance that lifts a book from straight chick-lit (which can be great) to what one of my blogging friends likes to call brain candy. Evelyn is not a one-note, old-school actress and her story is as complicated as she is. Every time it seems as if her core has been reached Reid reveals another facet. She perfectly mixes the delicious and gossipy with the unexpected and serious. There are surprises and secrets, and it all makes for reading so deeply satisfying you won’t want it to end.