Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I find it hard to resist a juicy book about Hollywood, especially during the 1950s and 60s. I’ve read a few nonfiction books about Hollywood and, while this one is fiction, there are just enough hints about actual actors to make it appealing.

Based on the title and cover, I immediately thought of Elizabeth Taylor and her seven husbands. But Evelyn Hugo is not Liz Taylor. Unlike Liz who was British and grew up in privilege, Evelyn was from Hell’s Kitchen in New York and her parents were Cuban. She used her sex and beauty to make it to the top and made calculating and ruthless decisions in her career and in her marriages. Along the way, she became an acclaimed actress and was known to take big chances, some of which cost her dearly.

The story begins in present day New York when Evelyn, nearing the end of her life, contacts Vivant magazine. She proposes the magazine write a feature article about her, but insists it be written by Monique Grant, a lower-level writer for Vivant. The editor is baffled, but begrudgingly agrees and assigns Monique the story. At their first meeting, however, Evelyn shifts plans. There will be no feature article and Vivant is out. Instead, she gives Monique full rights to write a tell-all life biography about Evelyn, to be published after her death.

Through several weeks of interviews, readers learn about Evelyn’s life and, of course, her husbands, and why she married them. She married actors, singers, a studio producer, a film director and a financier, and she’s coy when Monique asks her who her greatest love was.

That’s one teaser. And the other teaser is why Monique? I’m not giving any hints. You’re going to have to read the whole book to find out.

I enjoyed this book. It was thoroughly entertaining and seemed an accurate portrayal of the Hollywood scene during this time period. I liked the way the author showed how movies changed from the prim and picture-perfect 50s to much edgier subjects and daring scenes in the 60s, 70s and beyond. I also liked reading about Evelyn’s relationships and friendships. She may not be a likable person, but she did what she had to do to make it and has no regrets. I liked being given the task of trying to understand this complex character. In some books, you have to like the main character to enjoy it, but not this one!

Other good books about Hollywood:

Elizabeth and Monty: the Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo

Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman

Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske

I also enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

28 thoughts on “Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    1. Same – I replied to another comment that I wouldn’t want to read them all in a row, but I will definitely pick up another of her books later on. Thanks for reading and commenting, Paula 🙂

  1. I tried to comment on your book review, but maybe I have to be logged on?Anyway, I wasn’t sure about the book – crazy but the mass popularity was a bit of a turn off – but I enjoyed it.Some of it was predictable, but there were enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.

    1. Hi Fran – I’m often skeptical of the massively popular books – read this in 2 days and enjoyed it. Your comment came through fine – no need to log on! Thanks for the visit 😀

    1. Hi Donna – I sometimes stay away from mega best sellers because they can be disappointing, but I thought this was very good. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Juicy tales sell, as the cover of Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo proclaims. I believe I did read Daisy Jones and the Six. What a revelation!

    1. Yes, so do I! This one is definitely not a biography – only very loosely based on the real Elizabeth Taylor – Evelyn Hugo’s childhood was very different from Taylor’s, and she had to really connive to get where she got. However, I suspect Taylor, despite coming from a much more socially prominent and wealthy family, used people the same way. Both the real Taylor and the fictional Hugo supported similar social causes, however. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Terrific review! So glad you enjoyed this book — I loved it. And Daisy Jones too, which I just re-read. Some of her books have interested me less than others, but I’ve never been bored reading a TJR book.

    1. Hi Lisa – it was very entertaining – certainly not great literature, but very well done and I respect any author who can pull that off. I don’t think I could read a lot of her books in a row – but I’ll probably go back and read more. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  4. Hi Barbara, this sounds like an interesting insight into what it takes to make it to the top. Maybe I should say, what it took in the past. I’m not sure if we have mega stars like Elizabeth Taylor any more.

    1. Hi Robbie, and no, I agree with you. That period of time was unique in the way stars were born. I’m no expert on Hollywood, but I think it’s probably a lot more complex now. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment 🙂

  5. Well then… you might want to read Strangers in the Night by Heather Webb. It will be released on the 21st, and it is about the love affair between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.

  6. I so want to read Seven Husbands but I’m almost scared to because of how popular it is and how many people love it. I trust your judgement though!! X

    1. Hi Charley, I know exactly how you feel, because I often deliberately avoid books for the exact same reason. I bought the book to give as a gift, but then I didn’t see that person and too much time passed, so I read it myself and enjoyed it!

    1. Hi Noelle – I had to look up Marion Davies, but once I did, I recognized her face. I do like a Hollywood story, but I never go the movies and I’m not watching the Oscars right now! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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