When you live in the dreary winter of the PNW escapism becomes a necessity. And The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo delivers an immersive experience of old Hollywood glamour and scandal. It explores the power of found family, the incompatibility of ambition and morality, sex and beauty are tools of power, and the disconnect between perception and reality.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo begins when the once iconic Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo, who is now aging in her luxurious upper west side apartment picks magazine reporter Monique Grant from obscurity to write Evelyn’s biography. And so Evelyn begins to unravel her life’s story of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendships, and forbidden love. Evelyn is always tough, frequently awful, hopelessly complex, and as Monique discovers Evelyn’s reasons and her true predicament, just like Monique, I cannot help but sympathize with and love Evelyn. But just as Monique softens up to Evelyn, her realization of how the two of them are tragically connected complicates how Monique feels about Evelyn. It is the perfect twist! The concluding chapters are heart wrenching, beautiful and complex just like the characters.
I loved Evelyn’s character. She is terribly flawed. And what makes her one of the most compelling fictional characters for me is that she is higly aware and impressively unapologetic about her flaws. She is deceitful and dirty when she wants something or if it is for someone she cares about. I love her relentless ambition that could have so easily be misconstrued as greed. I love the complexity and nuances of this character because it reflects how I believe people really are— a mostly stable package of good and bad that you can buy wholesale, or not at all.
The book touches on the disconnect between the headlines and reality. We rarely know the whole story. Headlines and the media are one dimensional. Because clickbaity viral titles are best when pushed to the extreme good or then extreme bad. Sensational content makes money but the truth of a matter is often plain and simple.
Skip this paragraph to avoid a spoiler. There is a time when Evelyn is married to Harry when they live in New York City along with Celia St. James and her husband. Both couples are regularly seen together on double dates. Reid talks about the media’s speculation about how the two couples were swapping spouses. And this casual infidelity is somehow more palpable than letting two women or two men that love each other be together. It is heartbreaking to know how closely this reflects our reality, things are changing but not fast enough.
The transportive ability of Reid’s books is stunning, which she also delivers in Daisy Jones & The Six. For me, this book cements Reid as one of my favorite authors, and I am extremely excited to pick up her newest book Carrie Soto Is Back