The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is an excellent and engaging story which quickly captures your attention, teasing you with questions and reveals just when you think you’ve uncovered something.

Taylor Jenkins Reid highlights the reality for women in the workforce and the toxic culture we still continue to struggle with today. Not only the pay gap, but the expectations, stereotypes and obstacles for women because of sexism and gender inequality. I found it more interesting as TJR highlights the multitude of struggles women are faced with across their lifetime: from oversexualisation, unrealistic standards to be naïve yet stoic and innocent and mature. Women are cautious of men and their gaze, soon enough you’ll believe you are what people perceive and tell you to be.

Be aware of the trigger warning: domestic abuse, suicide, scenes in this book. I went in thinking this book would be vastly different from what it actually was. Needless to say, TJR I am shook by your book (that was a really bad pun).

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

This book was not only profound in informing about a woman’s story, but the story all women experience – someone else’s perspective of the narrative – society’s twisted analogy of your life as it confounds and misconstrues your intentions.

Even through the title, men seem to swivel their way into significance. This is the story of a woman who society deemed desirable because of her beauty, image and fame – but she was so much more than that. Evelyn Hugo was a woman who grew up in a world that worked against her. The walls of Hollywood and cruel men played a part, but it was her own brute force and will that shaped who she ended up as. These are my thoughts after only having met the second husband, so who is to say how my thoughts will change as we progress? 

“It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.”

A few moments later…

I’ve finished the book a day later and wow is there a lot to unpack. Not only did we get a reveal that Evelyn is bisexual, but that the love of her life was Celia St. James, a friend and actress. It just gets more intense as the story progresses with each turn. We come to know that Evelyn is not exactly a prim and proper woman as, ‘clean’ and ‘good’ as society deems women in the media.  She’s willing to put herself in situations and dirty her hands to get things.

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

Chapter 64! When we finally get a reveal we’ve been waiting for. I was actually staring at the page in shock. All in all, this book was not anything like I was expecting.

While Monique is our narrator and seemingly our protagonist, the titular character, Evelyn, takes the lead for 90% of the book. Prepare to tussle with your emotions and perception of Hugo as we travel from the 50s to 60s to the 1980s and then present day. It truly feels like decades have passed and yet, in less than 400 pages, TJR composes a distinctive novel that I’m sure sticks out from the rest.

A Wandering Reader