In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” struggling journalist Monique Grant is surprised when her editor announces that 50-60s sex symbol, Evelyn Hugo has requested that Monique be the one to interview her. Notoriously reclusive in her old age, Evelyn hasn’t given an interview in years. Her offer to Monique promises to jump start the young journalist’s currently stagnant career. Which is why Monique is stunned when Evelyn insists that, rather than just interview her, Monique should write her biography. Evelyn offers Monique an unfiltered version of her life, starting with her humble origins as the daughter of Cuban immigrants living in Hell’s Kitchen all the way to her last marriage to the brother of her biggest rival. While learning about Evelyn’s colorful past, Monique begins to examine her own past and comes to terms with her recently failed marriage. All the while she wonders what prompted a former A list celebrity to single her out for the opportunity of a life time.
I have to say that so far this book is my best discovery of 2021. I loved the numerous throwbacks to the glamour of 1950s-1960s Hollywood. I also found Evelyn’s story a compelling read. I was fascinated how she was able to pull herself out of obscurity solely on the basis of her looks and strong personality. She taught herself to act and forced producers to notice her thus transforming herself into a world famous star. At the same time, her life was not without tragedy as fame never seems to come without a price. Yet despite the setbacks and tragedies of her life, Evelyn expressed to Monique that if offered the chance to do her life over she wouldn’t change a thing.
In addition to enjoying learning the backstories to all of Evelyn’s colorful relationships, I was interested to read about Evelyn’s handy manipulation of the media. The character of Evelyn reminded me in some ways of Princess Diana, who was a master manipulator of her image and whose life was also tinged with tragedy. It also served as an apt reminder that the media is, especially nowadays, not as impartial as we would like it to be.
I give this book 5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. It really sucked me in and kept me guessing at the connection between Monique and Evelyn till the very end.