angel statue in grayscale photography
06.11.2023

Book review: “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

By Anastasia Baraeva
3 min read

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is undoubtedly a riveting read and absolutely lives up to the hype around it. This story is a biography of Evelyn Hugo, an elderly reclusive Hollywood star, written by Monique, a talented up-and-coming journalist. As Evelyn unfurls her scandalous love story, Monique learns a lot about the Hollywood game and the price of living in the public eye. But what is more important is that she eventually finds out how their lives intersect in a tragic and irreversible way.

Historical fiction is not the kind of thing I usually pick up, and I haven’t read anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid before. Moreover, it took me about 150 pages to get fully immersed in the story. Yet, to the author’s credit, the writing is impeccable, the main character is dimensional, there aren’t any redundant descriptions, and some narrations of scenes kept my heart racing. Now, let’s talk about specifics. 

This book has so many layers. Not only does the novel focus on romantic love but also on love between friends and the love between parents and their children. This reminded me of my dear grandmother. After slowly fading away for five years, she passed away two years ago. During that period, I understood what was going on, and when I got a message about her death, I felt nothing but a stomachache. Reading the book, it suddenly dawned on me what I had overlooked. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say that my granny was scared stiff of death, but it didn’t occur to me to cheer her up in any way. Yes, we talked about death at large; I interpreted it as a relief, as something that presses a reset button. But now, I blame myself for the lack of empathy. I should have simply said, “It seems as if you are going through a frightening process. Unfortunately, I cannot help you and cannot go with you. But I love you through all these moments, and I will be with you in the dark hours.” I am so sorry, but I didn’t say that. And I am not sure if I could have realized it if I didn’t read Evelyn’s life story.

angel statue in grayscale photography
Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

However, this is Evelyn Hugo again who taught me to accept mistakes. In the book, she is depicted as a manipulative, cold-hearted, and sometimes devious woman. She calculates everything ten steps ahead, uses all her greatest assets to her benefit, and is never ashamed about it. Despite that, you can’t help but be enamored with her because of her frankness when she shares her story. She can paradoxically balance the selfishness, egoism, and ugliness of her inner self with humanity, devotion, and sensitivity. To me, she is not a composite of famous Hollywood movie icons of those times but a true legend who once lived among us. 

The book might be interesting for those who wonder what usually goes on behind the scenes of Hollywood life and what price celebrities have to pay for their fame. If you choose this book to curl up in your favorite nook, be ready to breeze through almost 400 pages in a few days without leaving the house because you will probably not be able to handle the suspense. But then, highly likely, you will go for a stroll to get some headspace and digest everything you read.