THE PLOT: ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid is about a reporter who writes a biography of a famous movie star. Evelyn Hugo is one of the world’s most beautiful women. Having made her big break in the 50’s, she’s been in the spotlight for decades and not just for acting. Evelyn has had seven husbands and now she’s ready to spill the dirt on them all. Monique is a recently divorced journalist who knows interviewing Evelyn could kickstart her career. But as Evelyn starts to divulge her secrets, Monique can’t help but wonder why she’s been chosen to write this story…
RATING: You know you’re in for a good time when you sit down to read a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. They’re glamorous and fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns to keep you hooked. And, this – a lot of bookstagrammers favourite TJR novel – is no exception. I was completely addicted to this book and enjoyed everything it had to offer. In addition to the commercial hook and strong plot, it had unexpected, hidden depths with feminist themes – no spoilers – that resonate today. If you want something fun to read on holiday or get you out of a reading slump, pick up this book ASAP.
GOOD BITS: The depictions of old Hollywood are a movie-lover’s dream so the setting completely captivated me. I adored how Evelyn was an enigmatic character who wasn’t wholly good or bad. And, most of all, I loved how the book was structured into interviews about each husband. Viewing Evelyn through her husbands allowed to author to explore issues such as the role of women in a marriage, the sexualisation of actresses in the vein of ‘Me Too’, beauty and ageing, and women being allowed to demonstrate their ambition.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: I felt like the reporter, Monique, wasn’t a completely fleshed out character. Her sections, although brief, felt much weaker than Evelyn’s story. For example, Monique is mixed-race and although she talks about the duality within her, I didn’t get a sense that her race was anything more than a convenient plot point. In addition to this, the use of first-person in Monique’s sections made me dislike her. It was like she over-explained her life, with awkward and unnatural phrases that baldly stated her feelings – aka, a lot of telling instead of showing.
OVERALL: It was hard for me to choose comps but I’d recommend this book to lovers of ‘The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp’ by Eva Rice or ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline. But this book will appeal to people drawn to the glamour of stars like Marilyn Munroe and Elizabeth Taylor; or, people who like commercial novels about women with strong plots. I won this book in @thefloatingbookworm book auction to raise money for Ukraine so thank you to Larissa for sending it my way.