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.
My Review: 4.5 stars
The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is so much more than the title suggests. I was expecting a light, romantic romp through this woman’s several husbands and was taken off guard by the wisdom and thoughtful intelligence this woman represented. Was this unexpected and reflective plot what bumped this rating up, perhaps? Or perhaps not, and I just really enjoyed the story.
Evelyn is a character to admire. She has every reason to want to tell her story to Monique, another primary character, as her life has been a lie in the public eye. As she unleashes her life story, we learn about why she had each of her seven marriages, what she did to succeed, why she ran away from her humble beginnings and how a woman’s body can be so powerful. Monique has two very important questions at the start of her interview that linger unanswered until the end of the novel. (Seven husbands. Which one did she love best? and Why did she choose me to tell her story?) Getting the answers to these questions keeps the reader completely engaged.
This is the type of book in which saying much of anything about the plot could give the story away. I’ll tell you this though, the book offers nuggets of knowledge about friendship, honesty, abuse, love versus being in love, parenting, sexuality, bi-sexuality, marriage, the right to die in dignity, lies you can live with and those you can’t, intimacy and forgiveness.
This is a great example of rich contemporary and women’s fiction. Well done Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Quotes I liked:
I’ve spent a very long time learning how to spin the truth. It’s hard to undo that wiring.”
-“What’s that saying? Behind every gorgeous woman, there’s a man sick of screwing her? Well, it works both ways. No one mentions that part.”
-“You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until somewhat stands behind you and says, “It’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”
-“I can’t speak for all people who have been hit by someone they love, but what I can tell you is that forgiveness is different from absolution.”
-“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.”