While debating my selection for the June Book of the Month, I kept circling back to The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo despite its surface of being yet another summer beach read that would be forgotten by end of the season. I eventually chose it because it was a part of BookSparks SRC17. I’m glad I did.
What the jacket cover says:
Writer Monique Grant is summoned to her boss’ office where she is informed that the famous actress, Evelyn Hugo, has offered to give the magazine a one-on-one interview ahead of her Christy’s auction, where she will auction off some of her famous dresses seen on the red carpet in the name of charity. The only hiccup is, Evelyn will only agree to the interview and story if Monique is the one writing it. Everyone is perplexed by Evelyn’s insistence, given Monique’s relatively insignificant journalistic career, only being known for an article she wrote on the heavy topic of dying with dignity.
It’s difficult to imagine that Evelyn Hugo is a fictional character because she’s so well-rounded. The author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, did a superb job researching old Hollywood Glamour and scandal synonymous with starlets of that era. Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Rita Hayworth, Evelyn Hugo comes alive thoroughout the pages of this addictive novel that touches on fame, fortune, sexuality and race.
On the surface, there’s the backstory behind all seven of Evelyn’s marriages, each carefully planned out to achieve a certain goal. Her first marriage is to a man she met in her native New York—she needed him to get away from an abusive father and to achieve her mother’s lifelong dream of becoming a Hollywood starlet. She marries for love once, once for friendship and other’s to keep her truth buried.
The question that remains until nearly the very end: why Monique. Why did Evelyn only agree to speak with a relatively unknown writer? The answer is not only heartbreaking but honest even if she went about doing so in a less than honest manner.
By the end of the book, I was sad to see Evelyn go. I wanted to hear more of her stories—I wanted to live in her world. I didn’t particularly care for her as a person, but I respected her for going after what she wanted, which begs the question: is it more important to be liked or respected?