Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
"Never let anyone make you feel ordinary"
Hi friends, I’m back with another hot take on the latest books I’ve been reading. I am super excited about this one, because it was one of my absolute favorite books and turns out Netflix just announced today that they’re turning it into a movie! I guess I’ll keep my membership for a little while longer. Even though they got me twisted with these ever increasing prices. *insert eyeroll emoji* Anyway, I wanted to talk about this one specifically with there still being a few days left of Women’s History month. I thought this would be a great addition because Ms. Hugo was an intense woman that should absolutely be talked about, even if she wasn’t real.
So a little back story about how I came to find this book: I had originally heard about it in my favorite Facebook group, Black Girls Read Books Too (as usual) and my curiosity got the best of me. Plus, the beautiful green dress on the cover was fun to look at. I saw it at Barnes and Nobles even though I really had no business being in the store at the time. The title caught my eye because after seeing it in the group I had put it on my growing TBR list. I grabbed it, even though I already had books in my hand. I keep reminding myself that reading is a harmless addiction. “At least it’s not drugs.” I frequently whisper to myself as I stand in line at B&N ready to put another stack of books on my credit card. “At least I’m not killing anyone.” Who cares if I already had a pile of books I hadn’t read yet? That is beside the point. I’ll get to them eventually. After purchasing, the book actually sat on my shelf for a while, because I kept picking up other books to read instead. When I finally sat down to read this one, I was floored!
So anyway, let’s talk about the actual book.
The summary says that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of the Old Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo. At 79, she gives a final interview to a journalist named Monique Grant that no one has ever heard of. No one knows what it is, but Ms. Hugo had a plan that she was determined to see through.
Super lowkey sounding summary, right? I had no idea what type of ride I was willingly stepping on by cracking open this book. I read on google somewhere that Ms. Hugo was loosely based on Elizabeth Taylor who was married a whopping total of 8 times to 7 men. Hey, no judgements here. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right? Evelyn and Elizabeth definitely took that phrase to heart, but I digress. The book starts off with Monique speaking with her supervisor about being requested by Evelyn to write an article about these fancy dresses that she was donating from her priceless collection. This was apparently a huge deal because 1. Evelyn never did interviews and 2. No one knew who Monique Grant even was let alone why this famous Hollywood star refused to work with anyone but her.
Monique meets with Evelyn and quickly learns that she doesn’t even want an article written and the dresses she wanted to “donate” was all a ruse used to get Monique there so Evelyn could give a firsthand account of her life story in a “tell-all” style book. And boy did she have a lot to tell! Whew! Her life story took me on a rollercoaster with an unexpected twist at the end that left me with my mouth literally hanging open. I don’t want to give it away, but I encourage everyone to grab this book and read it one day when you have some time.
Evelyn’s story had so many gold nuggets. I really didn’t expect to learn anything about myself from reading this story, but I did. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Evelyn taught me to go after what I want. She taught me not to be ashamed of myself for any reason and to unapologetically make my presence known. I had always been someone to hide in the shadows and fade into the background. I never wanted to be noticed, never wanted the recognition. I just wanted to quietly exist. After reading this book, I realized that I deserved to make noise. I deserved to go after what I wanted. I deserved to be uniquely me, even if it made others uncomfortable. In the beginning of her story, Evelyn struggled with being her authentic self because she wanted to be in the limelight, she wanted the recognition and the stardom and Old Hollywood had the habit of sucking out the authenticity of people in favor of churning out the image that appealed most to the audience. The shell of the person that sold the most movie tickets. Evelyn conformed to that at first, but as her story progresses we see that she grows out of that shell and grows in to her own version of herself. The fact that she refused to be sorry for her actions was inspiring to me. Granted, some of her decisions hurt some people that she cared about but, she refused to apologize for who she was and who she had become.
That is what punched me in the face the hardest, I think. Her sheer audacity. Her NERVE. She existed in a male dominated industry, she made a name for herself, and she accomplished her goals. In the end, she refused to apologize for who she needed to be in that moment. Definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY grab this book if you’re looking for something good to read. I was hurt that Evelyn Hugo wasn’t a real person when I finished this story because best believe I ran straight to google to see if I could find Evelyn. Taylor Jenkins Reid did an amazing job of capturing her reader during every moment of this book. Sidenote: do you think we could convince her to call her fans her “Reid”-ers? Get it? Get it??? You get it. Anyway, run on over to B&N and grab a copy of this book to read Or you can grab it here:
You won’t regret it! Make sure you come back and tell me what your opinion on this book is. I think we can all learn a lesson from Ms. Hugo. Take up space. Be who you are and don’t ever apologize for it. Happy reading babes! <3