Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant to write her story, no one is more astounded than Monique herself.
welcome to my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I feel like the second half of 2018 has proven to be quite prolific in terms of wonderful reads, and this book exceeded all expectations. I knew that this novel had been very well loved, and I was curious to see what the buzz was about. I really enjoyed this story, and I think it is one that challenges many different aspects of the mostly binary society we live in. I gave it 5 stars, and I think many people would benefit from reading it.
- Plot: this is the story of Evelyn Hugo, a now 79-year-old Hollywood actress who is ready to tell her life story. Therefore the plot revolves around her life, and it is extremely well done. Everything fits perfectly well together and it is highly realistic and believable. Reid definitely thought out all of the elements and seamlessly weaves them together, and the final product is a novel that reads as a biography, but with all the good writing.
- Characters: the main characters in this book are so well presented. Evelyn herself is a very complex woman, and all the complexities are beautifully presented to the reader through the own’s character introspection, which makes one question the reliability of the narrator as a whole: is she too hard on herself or too little? Harry is another character that I really liked, his open mindedness and overall humanity. And of course Monique, and her character development is just amazing. Especially ethically speaking, she is just so humanly perfect.
- Writing: the writing is beautiful and fast-paced, it really does read as if Evelyn was speaking herself. I listened to this on audiobook and I highly recommend it.
Unfortunately I cannot say much else without spoiling the contents of this wonderful novel. I urge you to read it as soon as possible and then come back here to read the rest of the spoilery content, because there is much to be discussed in terms of bioethics, morality, and LBGTQ+ themes.
**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Morality: the whole book to me was a rollercoaster of – is that moral or not? And the answer I finally gave myself was that morality is not the point at all. As Evelyn explains all her decisions were made yes, at first egoistically, but then it was the best she could do to protect the fragile network of affection she had built for herself. And again she had only done this to men, and always avoided all the backstabbing that was going on in Hollywood. Of course then there is the whole question of the sex scene and Celia, and she accepted the consequences.
LBGTQ+: I loved the amazing portrayal of different types of sexualities and how much they challenge modern and contemporary binary rules. “You’re a lesbian!” “No I am not, I like men and love a woman”. It was so interesting to see also the family they built, and the love they shared, a love that is just as strong as any other family’s. I do think it is really important to challenge all these preconceived ideas of what a family must be, of what blood relations mean and don’t mean. It was very well done
Bioethics: this, of course, relates to the end of the book. I loved the way Monique struggled internally in terms of deciding to stop Evelyn or not, and, in the end, I do agree with Monique’s decision, and the fact that one has the right to be dignified even in death and in this case, it was the right thing for Evelyn.
And finally body image: Evelyn is supposedly one of the most beautiful women to ever walk on earth. She does recognize this, as well as the fact that she was built that way (by sometimes surgery and also good genes). Evelyn is also hyperaware of her beauty and unapologetic when it comes to using it as a weapon. She is also hyperaware of how ephemeral beauty can be: she was never truly loved by a straight man. Men used her just as much as she used them, and if she did not have Celia, she would probably have never been able to find someone to love her for her and not her body.