‘Evelyn Hugo’ is your next must read

‘Evelyn Hugo’ is your next must read

March 15, 2019

Twitter user @jamishelves said it best with her Tweet: “‘The Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ has united the book community. I said it. It’s on everyone’s best of 2018 list. Book Twitter loves it, Y.A. booktubers love it, fantasy booktube loves it, romancelandia, literary fiction booktube, mums on goodreads. I’m telling you it’s ‘The Book.’”

I had seen every book account I followed on Twitter raving about “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and put it on hold at the library. After three months, my audiobook finally came in and, wow, was it worth the wait!

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is surprisingly captivating, truly fantastical and a wild ride from start to finish.

When I started this novel, I had no idea why one person could ever need this many husbands. I mean, at some point, you just gotta call it quits and decide maybe you shouldn’t end up with a man. However, this book proved me wrong, as each husband had a very important purpose (albeit with only two husbands having the purpose of love). Evelyn Hugo has no delusions about herself; she used men to get the fame she wanted, and she is proud of it. These men all helped her score roles in major films, splash the covers of magazines and create intrigue about who she is.

This intrigue lasts for years after Hugo retires, when she calls up narrator Monique for an interview years after she has faded from the spotlight. True stardom never fades, I guess. Evelyn meets with Monique all day, every day, telling Monique her life story. Monique’s job is to turn it into an honest biography after Evelyn has died, sharing truths that she always wanted the world to know but couldn’t reveal.

Her truths and her story were equally as enthralling to me as I imagine they were to the people of the novel. The people in this universe knew Evelyn Hugo, the movie star, the “sex pot,” the icon. All the readers can do is take the word of the narrator, claiming Hugo is all of the things listed above. Yet, I was enthralled as if I knew Evelyn Hugo, as if I had followed her for years and finally was getting a glimpse inside the starlet I loved. Her story is full of questionable deeds, yet you can’t help but root for her. She’s not the villain, yet not the hero. Not the victim, yet not the perpetrator. She’s an anti-villain, perhaps, using whatever means necessary to get the desired result of stardom.

In between Evelyn’s recounts of her insane life, we get glimpses of Monique’s less than glamorous one. Her divorce looms over her every move, she has next to no standing at her office and now she’s responsible for the biography of the century. But we get to see Monique grow stronger. Inspired by Evelyn Hugo, Monique starts to stand up for herself, to go after what she wants. Even Monique can recognize the positive effect that Evelyn Hugo has had already,  just by telling Monique what she has gone through. This makes it completely heartbreaking when you find out the unexpected connection that Monique and Evelyn have, the link between them that first captured Hugo’s attention. Hugo has earth-shattering news for Monique, and readers are left in suspense for most of the novel as Hugo skirts around the bitter truth for as long as she possibly can.

As mentioned before, Evelyn Hugo is not a good person. What GOOD person would have seven husbands? At the end of the day, though, her husbands are practically irrelevant. In words of Evelyn herself, and the closing words of the novel, “and anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.”

Oh yes, Evelyn Hugo is a bisexual icon (a bicon, if you will), who spends most of her time with Monique not focusing on the seven husbands that the book is named for but rather her true “great love,” Celia St. James. She and James had an epic love, one full of ups and downs, full of passion and trust and, above all, love. Even on their worst days, Evelyn and Celia never stopped loving each other. Though their love story may be messy at times, there is no denying it is incredible.

Given that, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” may be classified as one of the greatest love stories of all time. Romeo and Juliet had to hide a romance from their families and couldn’t even manage that. Hugo and James hid their relationship for decades with very little suspicion! Though I know scholars will never rally around this novel the way they rally around Shakespeare, it’s been amazing to see bibliophiles of all kinds fall in love with Reid’s story.

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