The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication date: 2017

Date started: 23/05/2022
Date finished: 26/05/2022

First sentence: “Film legend and ’60s It Girl Evelyn Hugo has just announced that she will auction off 12 of her most memorable gowns through Christie’s to raise money for breast cancer research.”
Last sentence (spoilers): “’Does it bother you? That your husbands have become such a headline story, so often mentioned, that they have nearly eclipsed your work and yourself? That all anyone talks about when they talk about you are the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo?’ And her answer was quintessential Evelyn. ‘No,’ she told me. ‘Because they are just husbands. I am Evelyn Hugo. And anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.’”
Favorite sentence (spoilers): “We went out to dinner in public, the four of us looking like two pairs of heterosexuals, without a heterosexual in the bunch. The tabloids called us “America’s Favorite Double-Daters.” I even heard rumors that the four of us were swingers, which wasn’t that crazy for that period of time. It really makes you think, doesn’t it? That people were so eager to believe we were swapping spouses but would have been scandalized to know we were monogamous and queer?”

Summary (spoilers): Evelyn Herrera was born in a Cuban family in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Her mother dreamed of becoming a movie star but died young, and her father was abusive, so when she was 14 she married Ernie Diaz, her neighbour who was talking an electrician job in Hollywood, just to get a ride to her dreams. She started to work in a café visited by celebrities and soon enough her pretty face and big breasts got her noticed, and she got hired by a studio. After a few roles as an extra, she died her hair blond and changed her name to Evelyn Hugo, and started to get proper roles. The studio suggested that she marries her co-star Don Alder, a handsome man that she soon fell in love with. Unfortunately, Alder soon started to hit her, as well as cheat on her, and she left him. By that time, she had become close friends with her co-star Celia St. James, and one evening when someone hinted at Celia being a lesbian, Evelyn kissed her friend and they started a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, tabloids started to hint at their relationship, so Evelyn hatched a plan: she would seduce the rock star Mick Riva, convince him to get married in Vegas, and then make him realize that he didn’t actually want her so that their marriage would get annulled. The plan worked perfectly, except for the fact that Evelyn got pregnant from her one night with Riva. Celia, heartbroken and not having understood that they would actually sleep together, leaves Evelyn a first time. The actress is heart broken, and a few years later she strikes a deal with co-star Rex North: they will marry because it will make people go to their movies, but they will never have sex or fall in love. It works well for many years, until North falls in love with another woman, so they decide to separate. Next, Evelyn decides to marry her best friend and producer Harry Cameron. Cameron is gay, and they both love the idea to hide with each other as well as living with their best friend. Evelyn and Celia reconnect, and because Cameron’s lover is Celia’s husband, they all end up living next to each other and always hanging out together. These are Evelyn’s favorite years, and for almost a decade they live a half-hidden, yet extremely happy life. Cameron and Evelyn decide to have a baby, Connor, and the four of them raise her. But one day, when Evelyn agrees to shoot a sex scene with her ex Don Adler for a movie, it’s too much for Celia who can’t take the secrets any more and leaves again. Soon after, Cameron’s lover dies and Cameron falls into a deep depression, so Evelyn feels alone once more. She gets seduced by French director Max Girard, and she thinks she’s falling in love with him so they get married, only to soon realize he only loves the image he has of her, and the fame she brings him. She reconnects once more with Celia, who tells her that she has a pulmonary disease and not many years left to live. They decide to go live together in Spain, and Evelyn tries to convince Cameron to come with so that they can continue to raise their daughter together, but he refuses because he has a new lover who doesn’t want to move. A few days later, Cameron and his lover die in a car accident, and to absolve her friend, Evelyn moves the lover’s body so that it looks like he’s the one who was driving drunk. Evelyn, Celia and Connor still move to Spain, along with Celia’s brother Robert Jamison, who marries Evelyn for appearance’s sake and because he’s unable to belong to just one woman and yet wants to have a family. There they live together happily for about 10 years before Celia dies from her disease. Evelyn moves back to New York, but then her husband dies and her daughter follows him, dying from breast cancer at an early age. Now alone, Evelyn continues to live on heartbroken, until she is diagnosed with breast cancer. She contacts an unknown journalist, Monique Grant, to write her memoir, and Monique is very confused as to why Evelyn would choose her for such an important ask. It’s only when the actress finishes to tell her about her whole life story, and reveals that Cameron’s lover who died in a car accident was Monique’s father, that it finally makes sense. Monique’s world gets turned upside down as she learns that her father did not kill himself by driving drunk, and that he was an affair with a man – but a letter found in Cameron’s pocket reveals that if her father was deeply in love with his boyfriend, he had refused to leave his wife and daughter, that he also loved dearly.

Opinion: I wasn’t sure that this would be my kind of books, but I ended up really loving it! I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what was the relation between Evelyn and Monique, as well as learn more about Evelyn’s life. And of course I loved the old school lesbian romance.


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