Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Published: 13 June 2017
Content Warnings: domestic abuse, homophobia, death, biphobia, alcoholism, suicide
I feel like I’m alone in that most of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books I’m not a fan of. I think the author was trying to make a diverse book with a diverse cast of characters and it fell flat.
The main character of the story is of course in the title, Evelyn Hugo. A story of her rags to riches life and how she became Hollywood’s It Girl actress. It’s about her husbands in the sense that people find it crazy she’s been married 7 times, but the reveal is about Evelyn and her own psyche.
The set-up for the book is about a young, up-and-coming journalist, Monique, being offered to interview Evelyn Hugo for the magazine she works at. We find out by the end of the book, and yes I’m saying it now because this book as been out for a while and the reveal is underwhelming, that Monique’s dad was killed in an accident that was caused by Harry. Harry and Monique’s dad had been having an affair but Monique’s dad had decided to stay with Monique and her mom. That night was the night he was killed. Evelyn hid it all to save Harry, which yes I get you know him and not the other man, but you make up for it by inviting her to interview you, like….what?
The book is divided into sections based off of which husband Evelyn is telling Monique about. Here are the list of husbands, what I think about them, and Evelyn’s relationship with them :
- Poor Ernie Diaz: I feel really bad for Ernie. He gets married and then the woman leaves him once she finds something better. I’m not saying Ernie was perfect but using someone like that is gross. Evelyn does admit at the beginning to Monique that she is the most selfish and self-absorbed so what can we expect.
- Goddamn Don Adler: I mean abusive jackass, do I need to say anymore? Obviously, Evelyn (nor anyone) deserves this in their life.
- Gullible Mick Riva: This time period was not the easiest time for people who were gay or lesbian (let alone transgender) so the fact that she used Mick to keep her and Celia’s relationship a secret. And of course, Mick uses Evelyn to continually run away from his problems, wife, and children.
- Clever Rex North: I mean this seems on par for much of Hollywood and life of people marrying for stunts or because it’s a good career move. I didn’t feel much for Evelyn or Rex in these chapters (truthfully, I barely remember these chapters).
- Brilliant, Kind-Hearted, Tortured Harry Cameron: I love Harry! I think he’s probably my favorite character. The relationship between him and Evelyn is so precious and adorable that it makes my heart happy. I still don’t understand the need/want for people to have children but whatever.
- Disappointing Max Girard: I was a little surprised that Evelyn expected something different with Max to happen. Like of course, he wants her to be the perfect Evelyn Hugo, he didn’t care about the real Evelyn when they first met why would he now?
- Agreeable Robert Jamison: I have nothing good or bad to say, he’s you know, meh. He’s there to provide Evelyn safety and so her and Celia can be together.
Celia St. James, the love of Evelyn’s life, the only question I have is why? Celia is not a nice person. There’s a feeling I had when reading where Celia could do no wrong while Evelyn was always messing up. Even though yes Evelyn did make mistakes, she always owned up to them. Celia feels the opposite where she never acknowledges her own issues in their relationship. I’m especially pissed about the bierasure and biphobia that we don’t see Celia deal with and understand.
The ending of the book was majorly disappointing! The hype around why Evelyn had Monique write this all comes down to a car accident, like it felt like there was supposed to be a greater set up that didn’t happen.
The last points I want to make are the ways the diversity is presented in the book. There are few POC characters in the book and each time they’re introduced their skin color or ethnicity is one of the first, if not the first, thing mentioned about them, which was odd (and definitely showed that a white person wrote it). I’m also super uncomfortable with a scene where Monique is noticing herself after she’s ready to go meet with Evelyn. She is thinking about how she’s lost a bit of weight since David left and that she’s a bit slimmer. Okay, that’s fine to notice, but then she says “looking at myself now pulled together and slimmer, I feel a rush of confidence. I look good. I feel good.” And this made me super uncomfortable because why can’t a fat person be confident? It feels like the author is saying that fat people aren’t allowed to feel confident, which is crazy! There were moments with how the author described POC people, to the subtle fat-shaming instances, and even the slight caricatures of the LGBTQ+ characters that left a bad taste in my mouth by the end.
Overall, it was an okay book. I personally don’t understand the obsession with this (or most of her books). And I know some people will probably say at least she’s trying by having POC & LGBTQ+ characters in her book, but I’ll counterpoint that argument now by saying if they aren’t represented well/accurately then what’s the point?
Happy Reading Darlings!