Bookish Witch

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Blurb (as on Amazon):

“Riveting, heart-wrenching, and full of Old Hollywood glamour, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of the most captivating reads of 2017.” —BuzzFeed “The epic adventures Evelyn creates over the course of a lifetime will leave every reader mesmerized. This wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet and her tumultuous Tinseltown journey comes with unexpected twists and the most satisfying of drama.” —PopSugar In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine. 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 is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. “Heartbreaking, yet beautiful” (Jamie Blynn, Us Weekly), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is “Tinseltown drama at its finest” (Redbook): a mesmerizing 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 costs—to face the truth.

Pages: 400

Genre: Fiction/Hollywood Drama/LGBTQ+

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback/Hardcover/Audiobook

Price:

  • Kindle eBook: ₹235.60/$6.51
  • Paperback: ₹249/$9.42

My Rating: 4.9/5

The scandalous life of aging Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, has always been a hot topic for gossip. When she decides to do an interview (as part of an upcoming auction) with a magazine, they’re thrilled. But she has a condition, she will only talk to Monique Grant; a reporter whom nobody knows. No one is as surprised as Monique herself but when she shows up at Evelyn’s apartment for the interview, another surprise awaits. Evelyn wants Monique to write her biography; her full story, no truths barred. What will Evelyn’s life story reveal and why has she chosen Monique?

What I liked about the book:

  • Above anything else, the book manages to talk about the struggles of the LBTGQ+ community from the 1950s till now. It is amazing how we see changes in people’s attitudes towards the community over the years, and yet most things have still not changed.
  • Evelyn Hugo manages to hold your attention from start to finish. A part of the reason is that she isn’t a black and white character and that’s what makes her memorable.
  • Each of Evelyn’s seven husbands gets a part in this book and we come to understand how each one of them influenced Evelyn and left a mark on her character. The USP of the book, the one reason that makes it so good, is that none of these husbands was actually her one true love.
  • The highlight of the book for me was Evelyn & Harry’s friendship. They were so perfect together and understood each other better than anyone else. They were so close it sometimes felt like they could read each other’s minds. They shared a love that is sometimes even harder to find than the once-in-a-lifetime love we all crave and they were so much more than just friends. They were business partners, equals, best friends, partners in crime, confidants, soul mates, and kindred spirits. And most importantly, they loved each other deeply! It’s so rare to find a friend like that, so rare to have a connection like that, to be loved in that manner, that you can’t help but see them as #FriendshipGoals. It was just such a wholesome representation of a deep friendship.
  • It was really interesting to see Monique’s character arc. At the beginning of the book, we see her as this shy mouse who didn’t dare to say anything to her boss and by the end of the book, she was a young successful woman who stood up for herself and finally had the guts to make decisions she never even dared to consider.

What I did not like about the book:

  • I don’t know why but I just didn’t like Celia. She threw a lot of awful things at Evelyn but in the end, it always seemed to be Evelyn that blamed herself for it. I also didn’t like that Celia wasn’t only self-righteous but also more than just a little judgemental. 
  • There were a few bits I could easily see coming; for instance, a few of the deaths, including Harry’s. This was a bit disappointing because I like being surprised.

Quotable quotes:

  • It’s amazing how vast a small place can feel when half of your things are gone.
  • I love the water so hot it almost burns. I love the smell of shampoo. My happiest place might just be under the showerhead
  • I’m often inclined to overprepare. But more to the point, I’ve always been a bit like an ostrich, willing to bury my head in the sand to avoid what I don’t want to face.
  • There’s a unique form of power in saying your name when you know that everyone in the room, everyone in the world, already knows it.
  • You’re young and your entire generation is casual with words that bear great meaning.
  • You can be sorry about something and not regret it.
  • The whole culture is glib now. That’s the new thing.
  • Isn’t that the very definition of power? Watching people kill themselves over something that means nothing to you?
  • You have a once in a lifetime opportunity here. You can see that,right? Of course. So do yourself a favour and grab life by the balls, dear. Don’t be so tied up trying to do the right thing is so painfully clear.
  • I know the whole world prefers a woman who doesn’t know her power but I’m sick of all that. I turned heads. Now I take no pride in this. I didn’t make my own face, I didn’t make this body. But I’m also not going to sit here and say, ‘Aw shucks! People really thought I was pretty?’ like some kind of a prig.
  • When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.
  • I didn’t want anyone. That was the problem. To be perfectly blunt, I’d started to figure my body out quickly. I didn’t need boys in order to feel good. And that realisation gave me great power.
  • Life doesn’t get easier simply because it gets more glamorous.
  • If you tell a woman her only skill is to be desirable, she will believe you.
  • The difference between an actress and a star is that the star feels comfortable doing the very thing the world wants her to be.
  • Intimacy is impossible without trust.
  • Be wary of men with something to prove
  • Praise is like an addiction. The more you get it, the more you need it just to stay even.
  • No one is going to give you anything if you don’t ask for it. So if you tried and were told no, get over it quickly.
  • People don’t find it very sympathetic or endearing, a woman who puts herself first
  • When you’re rich, parts of your house don’t feel like they’re really yours.
  • People think intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realise you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is, “You’re safe with me”- that’s intimacy.
  • What’s that saying? Behind every gorgeous woman, there’s a man sick of screwing her? Well, it works both ways. No one mentions that part.
  • When you’ve been bested, sometimes it’s good to recognise it and move on.
  • Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.
  • Lying to yourself about what you want takes far more energy than you have.
  • Divorce is not a loss. Heartbreak is a loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.
  • Don’t do things you’re not good at.
  • You never get anywhere good by seeming amenable
  • It is a hard business, reconciling what the truth used to be with what the truth is now.
  • The fact that something is awful doesn’t mean it’s not true.
  • The world is ugly and no one wants to give anyone the benefit of the doubt about anything. When we love our work and our reputations, when we lose our friends, and eventually our money, we will be destitute.
  • “You think you’re so gorgeous that no one can possibly resist your charms?”
    “Yes, actually.”
  • When you’ve been famous long enough, you understand how important it is to never tell anyone anything more than you have to.
  • Sexual implications are better when they’re gradual. When they snowball over time.
  • The key to impulsivity is believing that you’re invincible.
  • No one goes around throwing caution to the wind unless the wind is blowing their way.
  • It doesn’t matter how gorgeous a woman is, to most men, she’s always less attractive after he’s had sex with her.
  • Most women spend their lives wondering what it must be like to be a man, to be so confident that the final say is and always will be, yours.
  • The easiest lie to sell is the one you know the other person desperately wants to be true.
  • You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until someone stands behind you and says, “It’s okay, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”
  • It is OK to grovel for something you really want.
  • A luxury is something you can do when you’re rich and famous. You can decide wealth and renown are worthless when you have them.
  • There is a certain freedom in marrying a man when you aren’t hiding anything.
  • You should know this about the rich : they always want to get richer. It is never boring, getting your hands on more money.
  • Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.
  • Mostly, we all just want the freedom to do whatever we want.
  • Everyone’s a pawn. Don’t go around taking things personally.
  • You should know that you can’t tell a single thing about a person’s true character when you both want the same thing. That’s like a dog and a cat getting along because they both want to kill the mouse.
  • I had an idea. It wasn’t a flawless idea. Almost no idea ever is.
  • You’re not really famous if most people still like you.
  • Pictures speak very loudly. In general, we can almost never shake what we see with our eyes.
  • In the pursuit of a great cause, people can be of service in a lot of different ways.
  • Accepting that something is true isn’t the same as thinking that it is just.
  • Taking pride in your beauty is a damning act. Because you allow yourself to believe that the only thing notable about yourself is something with a very short shelf life.
  • It’s fascinating how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.
  • It was a problem. But it was a solvable problem, and solvable problems aren’t really a problem, are they?
  • Relationships are complex. People are messy, and love can be ugly. You should be inclined to always err on the side of compassion.
  • Forgiveness is different from absolution.
  • We all can’t go around treating people like dog shit and then expecting that a simple ‘I’m sorry’ will erase everything.
  • You have to throw yourself at the mercy of the things you really want.
  • There’s a difference between sexuality and sex. Sex is just an act. Sexuality is a sincere expression of desire and pleasure.
  • The cruelest thing you can do to someone you love is to give them just enough good to make them stick through a hell of a lot of bad.
  • Pain is sometimes stronger than the need to keep up appearances.
  • We need to understand and realise that our biggest issue most of the time is our own self-confidence. That the root of most of our problems is that we need to be secure enough in who we are to tell anyone who doesn’t like it to go fuck themselves. Why do we spend so long settling for less when we know damn well the world expects more?
  • Some marriages aren’t really that great. Some loves aren’t all-encompassing. Sometimes you separate because you weren’t that good enough together to begin with. Sometimes divorce isn’t an earth-shattering loss. Sometimes it’s just two people waking up out of a fog.
  • I don’t want to fail at this is not actually a great reason to stay together. We should have reasons why we don’t want to give up. It shouldn’t be just that we don’t want to give up.
  • Some people are lucky like that. They stumble onto something that works out for them, unsure of what they want until they have it.
  • If you love someone enough you should be able to overcome anything.
  • Being yourself-your true, entire self is always going to feel like you’re streaming upstream.
  • Living alone isn’t so bad once you get used to it.
  • Nobody deserves anything. It’s simply a matter of who’s willing to go and take it for themselves.
  • No one is just a victim or a victor. Everyone is somewhere in between. People who go around casting themselves as one or the other are not only kidding themselves, but they’re also painfully unoriginal.
  • Hate is an uncomplicated feeling. Everything else in life is more complex.
  • No one is all good or all bad. But sometimes it’s easy to forget just how true it is. That it applies to everyone.
  • You don’t need to make yourself OK for a good mother; a good mother makes herself OK for you.
  • When you dig just the tiniest bit beneath the surface, everyone’s love life is original and interesting and nuanced and defies any easy definition.

Check out the book here:

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