Friday, June 16, 2017

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

Perhaps no one celebrity has come as close to the many marriages of Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky as Evelyn Hugo, the title character of the novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. But while Taylor is/was reality, Hugo is purely fictitious. And that gives Reid the latitude to tell Hugo's story, her whole, complete story, with as much gusto, feeling, heart and compassion as possible. 

Here's a synopsis from
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.

This was such an entrancing read. Reid writes Evelyn with enough spitfire to light a thousand tiki torches and her tale is truly one that only Hollywood could write. Unabashed, unashamed, and truly regretful, Evelyn recounts her life on a vibrantly painted canvas, mixed with the colors of betrayal, abuse, un-requitted love, egoism, selfishness, selflessness, forgiveness and true passion. Evelyn's story unfolds in stark reality and at the end, I felt a pathos for her life; moreso for her compassion. Reid writes well; well enough to have held me spellbound while I HAD to read until the ultimate climax of Evelyn's life and times; and without giving away the ending, it truly is quite shocking. 

The novel speaks to so many issues - LGBTQ, agism, racism, sisterhood, physical abuse...all of these themes are acutely put into Reid's cocktail blender and are part of the book's dialogue. 

PopsugarU.S. interviewed Reid: 
PS: What is the one thing that you hope readers come away with after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
TJR: I want them to feel like if, at some point, they want to pull an Evelyn Hugo that they're ready and capable of doing it. As complicated as Evelyn Hugo is, I think Evelyn Hugo can teach us a lot about how to get what we want out of this world. It's time for women to get ours. We've got to go up there and take it. It's going to be uncomfortable, but I think that the rewards will be there for us. We need to find the confidence in ourselves to say, "Pay me what I'm worth. Promote me when I deserve it. Don't take advantage of me. Don't underestimate me."