Book Reviews

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

‘Do you think I’m a whore?’

Harry pulled over to the side of the road and turned to me. ‘I think you’re brilliant. I think you’re tough. And I think the word whore is something ignorant people throw around when they have nothing else.’

I listened to him and then turned my head to look out my window.

‘Isn’t it awfully convenient,’ Harry added, ‘that when men make the rules, the one thing that’s looked down on the most is the one thing that would bear them the greatest threat? Imagine if every single woman on the planet wanted something in exchange when she gave up her body. You’d be ruling the place. An armed populace. Only men like me would stand a chance against you. And that’s the last thing those assholes want, a world run by people like you and me.’

Evelyn Hugo was the “It” girl of her time.  She was not just a movie star, but “THE” movie star, with just as many scandals as awards.  Born Evelyn Herrera to Cuban parents, Evelyn ran to Hollywood as soon as an opportunity presented itself.  After decades of success, and seven husbands, she has finally decided to tell her story to Monique, a junior writer at a big magazine.  Why Monique?  And which husband was the love of her life?  Both of these questions are answered by the end of the novel, and we didn’t see either answer coming.  

Evelyn doesn’t hold back as she chronicles each husband.  She explains exactly how and why she married (and eventually divorced) each one.  She makes no apologies for her choices (except one) and even though she has done some pretty awful things, you can’t help but like her unabashed honesty.  By peeling back the glittery exterior of the old glam of Hollywood, we are given a glimpse into what is truly is: a business.  A business that is made on just as much as who you are in public as it is on the movies you make, so Evelyn Hugo’s public face is just as much a character as one in her movies.  How much can she blame her decisions on the constraints of her Hollywood existence?  And how much is just her need for fame and success?  

This was our Virtual Book Club summer pick, and it prompted some good discussion here in the library.  We differed on how much we could forgive, and if we agreed with Evelyn’s choices.  But we LOVED this book.  Taylor Jenkins Reid is getting better and better with each novel she writes, and this one does not disappoint!