Around ten pages into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, it became my favorite book.
I started this book after seeing it around everywhere, and so many people talking about it. Previously, I read another Taylor Jenkins Reid book—Daisy Jones & the Six, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. So, after finding out The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was another Taylor Jenkins Reid book, I took others’ advice and picked it up.
It wasn’t what I expected at all. In the best way possible.
My initial thoughts prior to reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was that—it was just going to be another typical romance novel, with shallow characters and a plotline that I won’t be able to get myself into—even after seeing the book around so much. However, I was quickly proven wrong.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has a handful of tropes that I absolutely love reading about with drama or romance novels—found family, rivals-to-lovers, lavender marriages, and most importantly… The representation in this book was amazing.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has a unique way of telling its story—it’s a story within a story. The book is a biography written by one of the story’s main characters—Monique. She’s a writer, who was recently divorced and is going through a difficult period of her life. She wants to be writing pieces that mean something to her, yet, she’s stuck writing fluff pieces for a magazine she does not want to work for anymore. To much surprise, she’s picked by Evelyn Hugo, a famous actress who reached her peak in popularity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, to write her biography. She agrees to write it, and the story switches from present to past.
The story focuses on Evelyn Hugo’s rise to fame, and her stories with all her seven husbands. But truly, the real love story here is her 50 year long relationship with a fellow actress, Celia St. James.
I didn’t expect for her to have this relationship prior to reading this book, considering it was about… her seven husbands… but the moment I knew about Celia, I started loving this book.
But even so, the book is so much more than just romance. It tells Evelyn’s struggles in her past, and the way she did almost anything to rise to fame and get out of her horrible community in New York. She made it to Hollywood by herself, and made a name for herself—she is a truly powerful and beautiful woman. In addition, the story also follows Harry Cameron, her best and truest friend.
I absolutely adored the friendship between the two of them. At first, they started out as mere acquaintances—until it came to the point where they both realized that they would die for each other. Each of them kept each other’s secrets—that Harry was gay, and that Evelyn was in love with Celia. They were friends until the end, and the found family the two of them created was completely heartwarming as well as refreshing. Too often, I always read about male/female characters who almost always get into relationships, without the relationship making any sense whatsoever. It’s so important that platonic love gets introduced more and more into mainstream media, as well as the idea that people can be soulmates without it being romantic—which was definitely Harry and Evelyn’s case.
Evelyn and Celia were also such a refreshing couple to follow. They started off as rivals, both starring in a movie where each of them wanted the main role. The two of them made a deal when they first met—Celia would teach Evelyn how to act, since Celia was better, and Evelyn would help Celia become more popular. Over a few years, the two of them got closer and closer, until they became a couple.
Unfortunately, this was during the 50s/60s, and homophobia was definitely more rampant during this time than today. The two of them had to hide their relationship for over 50 years, and it was only when Monique published Evelyn’s biography that their relationship—as well as the fact that Evelyn was bisexual—was made known to the public. They were completely loving, caring, and supportive of one another. Although they argued, mostly over the fact that Celia wanted to love Evelyn in public, and that Evelyn wanted to stay a secret to not hurt Celia’s career, they were completely in love with each other. If you compare Evelyn’s love for Celia to all her other husbands, none of them come close. Celia St. James was her one true love, as Evelyn put it.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo became my favorite book so quickly, it caught me off guard. It was a wonderful blend of found family, finding yourself, and learning to love yourself and others. I felt like I grew with Evelyn, and I definitely was able to relate to her and Celia so many times throughout the book. Evelyn struggles with the same things I do, and it almost felt as if I was being seen by her. Whenever I feel like that when reading a book, I know it’s going to be one of my favorites. For The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, it became my absolute favorite book.
– Claire C.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library and can be downloaded for free from Overdrive.