Review: The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

‘People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realise 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.’ 

Publisher: Atria Books 

Release date: 13th June 2017

Pages: 389

Representation: BIPOC, lgbtqia+ (Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual), Hispanic  

Trigger warnings: Car Accident, Death, Illness, Suicide, mention of overdose, Homophobia, Abuse.

Summary: Monique is a journalist waiting for her big break. When Evelyn Hugo, a world-famous actress and Hollywood Icon, agrees to her first interview since the ’80s, Monique gets a story that will change her life. From newly found stardom to Oscar-winning household name, Evelyn tells her story of a life filled with intrigue, despair and forbidden love- With seven different husbands along the way. 

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo is as heartbreaking as an unexpected breakup and as heartwarming as any wedding.

I found Evelyns story sitting on the supermarket shelf, marked down to half price and immediately knew I had to read it. It’s been a favourite on booktok and bookstagram recently and has received nothing short of fantastic reviews. I went into it completely blind, so I didn’t know anything about it at all. I’m so glad I did. It made the books that much more shocking and emotional.

It’s not often I get wholly invested in a book, but I sat and read this entire thing in one sitting (aside from bathroom breaks and the time it takes to make a cup of tea.) By the midpoint, I found myself squealing and hugging the book to my chest, entirely ready to scream about Evelyn Hugo from the rooftops. (Not that there are any rooftops you can walk on near where I live.)

It’s a beautiful love story, plagued by the societal pressures of 1950’s Hollywood. Evelyn is a realist and isn’t afraid, to be honest about it. I especially loved the fact that when Evelyn is described, even though she’s in her late 70’s, she’s not ‘Hagged’ or ‘wrinkled.’ The author describes her as beautiful. It’s so rare for elderly people to be written in a way that showcases any form of beauty, and I found it completely captivating.

I understood the fear that some characters had; the terror of being found out. Living a lie is never easy, and I can’t imagine how much harder it must be when A. The eyes of the world are on you and B. The world thinks of LGBTQIA+ as some kind of disgraceful sin. I especially loved how the book addressed that although we’ve come incredibly far in LGBTQIA+ rights, there are still many stigmas, and we are still not equal. It’s something I’ve never seen in print before and something that I thought was handled tactfully and gracefully without taking away from the story’s point.

It was the most realistic fictional depiction of the LGBTQIA+ struggles and experience that I’ve read to date.

Learning how Monique and Evelyns stories intertwined was a surprising, heartbreaking revelation. It was utterly unexpected and showed how Evelyn’s character had developed over the years.

The only reason this book didn’t receive five stars is because of the ending. I had no issue with the concept of how the story wrapped up, but the execution completely ruined it for me. Considering the amount of thought and care put into the rest of the book, it was definitely a letdown.

Spoilers in this paragraph: I feel like the ending almost Glorified suicide. There was no questioning the decision. I understand this was necessary for the plot, but there was no mention that it could have been a bad thing. Monique considers stopping her and then thinks, “No, it feels right to let her do this.” This is a dangerous precedent to set, especially with no remarks from the author about its validity or even an opposing argument presenting itself in the fiction. As someone who knows people who have been suicidal and has dealt with these thoughts myself, the lack of prior warning or dismissal of this behaviour in the story could be a dangerous idea that needs addressing. People find encouragement for their convictions in the most minor places, and with the lack of warning (I hadn’t seen it mentioned in any summary or review), this needs to be considered. 

Shining glory: The representation is impeccable. It provides a realistic account of LGBTQIA+ struggles in the ’50s and how much they have-or haven’t-changed since then. 

Fatal flaw: The ending almost glorifies suicide; it doesn’t question it or even make it seem like there is any other option. It’s approached in a way that makes it seem like a martyrs thing to do. 

Read this if: You want a realistic read that pulls at your heartstrings; that can make you both grin with happiness and break your heart in the same chapter.  

Skip this if: You prefer less contemporary books or don’t like fiction books written like biographies. You prefer to read light-hearted books that don’t deal with many real-life issues or problems.

Purchase the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:


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