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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Historical fiction

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Quick take

Real-world celebrity gossip pales in comparison to the glamorous life—and loves—of the silver screen star Evelyn Hugo.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_80s

    80s

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

Synopsis

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating complex, likable characters, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

From chapter one:

Evelyn Hugo to Auction Off Gowns
By Priya Amrit
March 2, 2017

Film legend and '60s It Girl Evelyn Hugo has just announced that she will auction off 12 of her most memorable gowns through Christie's to raise money for breast cancer research.

At the age of 79, Hugo has long been an icon of glamour and elegance. She is known for a personal style both sensual and restrained, and many of Hugo's most famous looks are considered touchstones of the fashion and Hollywood archives.

Those looking to own a piece of Hugo history will be intrigued not only by the gowns themselves but also by the context in which they were worn. Included in the sale will be the emerald-green Miranda La Conda that Hugo wore to the 1959 Academy Awards, the violet soufflé and organdy scoop-neck she donned at the premiere of Anna Karenina in 1962, and the navy-blue silk Michael Maddax that she was wearing in 1982 when she won her Oscar for All for Us.

Hugo has weathered her share of Hollywood scandals, not the least of which being her seven marriages, including her decades-long relationship with film producer Harry Cameron. The two Hollywood insiders shared a daughter, Connor Cameron, who is no doubt the influence for the auction. Ms. Cameron passed away last year from breast cancer soon after turning 41.

Born Evelyn Elena Herrera in 1938, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, Hugo grew up in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. By 1955, she had made her way to Hollywood, gone blond, and been rechristened Evelyn Hugo. Almost overnight, Hugo became a member of the Hollywood elite.

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Why I love it

On an average day, I don’t really care what’s going on with, say, Brangelina or Kimye, but, if it’s a slow work day, or I’m on vacation, or at the airport, or it’s Saturday, or Twitter hit me with just the right clickbait: I might. On a scale of "Who’s-Selena-Gomez" to "TMZ-Should-Employ-Me," I’m somewhere around "I’ll-Definitely-Binge-Watch-True-Hollywood-Story-When-Hungover."

Here’s the point: Celeb culture isn’t my main thing, so this book isn’t my usual read, but I’m so glad it caught my attention. This fictional celebrity gossip account reads like the real deal, and breathes life into a type of behind-the-scenes story of a Hollywood "It Girl" we mortals may never otherwise have access to.

Evelyn Hugo, née Herrera, is an Elizabeth Taylor-esque starlet. When we meet her, she’s an Oscar-winning former screen queen who’s now 79, six times divorced, and widowed from her seventh marriage. Her adult daughter recently passed away from breast cancer and everyone else who was close to her is gone, so she’s ready to write, or at least narrate, a take-no-prisoners tell-all to set her own record straight. Evelyn seeks out a young, unknown writer named Monique, and gives her the biggest scoop she could imagine.

Evelyn is a force of nature, from her arrival in Hollywood, through backlashes for her career choices, to her relationship with the paparazzi (at times hilarious), and of course all those marriages. Evelyn was mean, she was calculating, she used people. She was also passionate, ambitious, sexy, and sensual. How she got to the top may make her seem unlikable, but the essential parts of her she’s had to hide to get there undercut much of what villainizes her. She’s the perfect "unlikable yet likable" character.

The questions of "Why choose Monique?" and "Why tell her story now?" and "Why dredge up the past?" are slowly revealed throughout the narrative, as we learn about both the glamour and heartache from Evelyn’s salad days. Each marriage is more than meets the eye, and, amazingly, they’re never dull. I would think by marriage four or five I’d be over it, but what motivates Evelyn is ultimately a lifelong love so passionate that it’s sure to surprise her adoring fans (and readers as well!).

Whether you end up liking Evelyn or not, or think she could’ve done it all another way, her story is addictive. Forget your magazines and Twitter updates—this is the breathtaking historical fiction, celeb gossip beach read you’ve been looking for.

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Member ratings (93,117)

  • Virginia S.

    Dorchester, MA

    Loved loved loved loved. Taylor Jenkins Reid knows how to bring characters to life in all their complexities you can’t help but love them. 20/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jordan F.

    Louisville, KY

    Overall:☆☆☆☆☆ Writing style:☆☆☆☆☆ Entertainment:☆☆☆☆☆ Characters:☆☆☆☆☆ Plot:☆☆☆☆☆ Ending:☆☆☆☆☆ I fo not give many five ☆ ratings, but this book is absolutely five ☆s, hands down!

  • Alana K.

    WINDERMERE, FL

    I’m struggling to articulate how much I loved this book. I put off reading it, thinking it’s probably overrated… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Just wow—I did not want to put it down! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Lacey K.

    Harrisburg, PA

    One of the most captivating stories of the century. I cant say much w/o spoilers but you all must read this IMMEDIATELY. You don’t expect things how they unfold, but it leaves you speechless⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Elise M.

    Raleigh, NC

    TBH I was nervous about this because of its high rating and didn’t want to NOT love a book so well-regarded. But…it lives up to the hype. It is fantastic and worth the notoriety- read it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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