Written By: Ali Kaplan
With Valentine’s Day approaching, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” seems like the appropriate book club pick of the month. Written by American novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid, the story unravels the life of famous actress Evelyn Hugo, taking the reader through all seven of her marriages.
Despite the book’s title, there are two main protagonists: Monique Grant and Evelyn Hugo. In Monique’s world, hearing her name spoken in the same sentence as Evelyn’s seemed impossible. In fact, throughout most of the novel Monique wonders why in the world their lives have collided with one another.
Monique Grant is a writer for Vivant magazine in New York. In the midst of getting through a shaky divorce, Monique is called upon by her boss to conduct a high-profile interview for the magazine about Evelyn Hugo’s upcoming dress auction.
Hugo’s specific request for Monique has both the Vivant staff and Monique confused. Nonetheless, it was not an offer she couldn’t turn down.
When Evelynmeets Monique, she explains her true agenda in asking for this interview: she wants Monique to write her biography. She wants the truth about her seven husbands, her glamorous life, and everything in between to be shared with the world only by Moniques writing.
Monique returns to Hugo’s home at her beck and call to write this story. She risks losing her job at Vivant and potentially wasting all of her time, as Hugo does not explain her true motives for this story until the novel’s end.
With each session between the two, Evelyn makes it clear to Monique that she wants herself to be portrayed exactly as she says. She wants the times in her relationships of selfishness, shame and wrong decisions to be spoken truthfully.
The two women who seem to have nothing in common, end up forming an appreciation for one another. Monique finds Evelyn’s experiences useful in deciphering her own failed relationship, and Evelyn–well, you just need to read to find out what she gains from Monique.
Despite Evelyn’s own judgment, Monique is convinced that Evelyn is not a bad person as she hears the seven untold stories of each of her husbands, and more importantly, which person was the love of her life.
I read this book in 48 hours, dying to know why each of Evelyn’s relationships failed and why Monique was so essential in sharing her life story with the world. It felt as though throughout this novel, I was the one that Evelyn was sharing her story with. Jenkins Reid’s seamless transition from the present day and the past of Eveleyn’s life made me often forget I was even reading a story.
About Taylor Jenkins Reid:
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an American novelist best known for three of her books: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Malibu Rising, and Daisy Jones and the Six. All three novels were New York Times Best Sellers.
Reid’s ability to write about fame and romance shines through in her stories. Additionally, she connects some characters from her books to various other stories–like the Riva family in Malibu Rising, Mick Riva being Evelyn Hugo’s third husband–leaving the reader itching for more.
If you haven’t read a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, it seems like you are missing out: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is where I would start.