“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
BY DANA NICKEL SENIOR STAFF WRITER
In lieu of any real travel in the last year, I’ve found myself taking more drives around Fairfax, Northern Virginia and Washington whenever I get tired of sitting in my bedroom and staring at my laptop screen. While on these drives, I started listening to audiobooks through Audible.
The most recent novel I listened to was recommended to me by a few friends. Aside from their rave reviews, I knew extremely little about Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” That being said, I’m very happy to announce that I gave into peer pressure.
The title provides an accurate summary of the novel’s plot. Evelyn Hugo, a Cuban American actress from old Hollywood, decides to come clean in a tell-all interview after decades of remaining tight-lipped about her scandalous career and multitude of husbands.
The novel focuses on Hugo in her later years and Monique Grant, a small-time magazine reporter who is Hugo’s only choice to tell her story. Grant — who is going through her own divorce at the time — is astounded by Hugo’s particular interest in her for the cover story and exclusive interview. Despite the initial shock, Grant seizes the opportunity to record Hugo’s first interview in years, and the chance to write a bestselling biography of her own.
Despite her giddiness to write a bestseller, Grant can’t help but grapple with Hugo’s decision to pick her. Why would Hugo choose Grant to tell her story? And, after decades of silence, why now? Hugo admits that her decision to come forward was because, in her old age, she was the last one left; everyone she had ever loved was dead, and she can now tell the truth without fear of harming anyone that loved her.
As the true story of Hugo’s life and plethora of loves unfolds, I found myself fighting the urge to google the characters. Despite the fact that the novel is a work of pure fiction, Reid writes with such passionate attention to detail that at some points it was hard for me to fathom that none of these characters existed in real life.
What Grant expected to be an exciting tell-all about the glamour and scandal of old Hollywood in the end came tinted with the dark side of misogyny in the film industry and stories of concealed abuse. The raw emotion in Reid’s writing allowed Hugo to finally knock herself off her own pedestal after a lifetime of hiding.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a humanizing tale of love, loss, and Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands.