This The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo summary gives you the plot and a review of this universally beloved story of an old Hollywood actress. And because this is a book pairings blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I have also provided some quotes and recommended pairings for further learning beyond the synopsis.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Summary + Quotes
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Move over, Elizabeth Taylor. Evelyn Hugo is in town and she has an epic -- and I mean epic -- tale to tell about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
In the later years of life, this Hollywood starlet (reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor) decides to tell all about her tabloid-worthy life and marriage to seven husbands. Although the public thinks they know her, she is a treasure chest filled with secrets. It turns out she wasn’t just the Cuban New Yorker who changed her name, dyed her hair, donned the emerald green silk dress and smiled pretty for the camera. Remember, Hollywood is an industry that promotes women as objects of sexual desire and builds them up just as fast as they tear them down.
Time is not on the side of Evelyn. She paradoxically chooses an unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job of telling her story, and the reader gets on board for the roller coaster ride.
As Evelyn narrates her decision to leave New York in the 1950s, her glamorous movie career, and, ultimately, her decision to leave show business in the 1980s, she describes her marriages and separations with each of her seven husbands. In doing so, she reveals a bombshell secret about her life. As it turns out, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo are not all that defines her:
Heartbreak is a loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.
You. Will. Be. HOOKED. Later, the reader also learns why Monique was chosen for her task in another plot twist. Author Taylor Jenkins Reid squeezes every ounce of juiciness from Evelyn's multi-faceted tale and the character of "Evelyn the famous actress" becomes humanized with complexity, flaws, and depth. Evelyn can be both seductive and manipulative, while still endearing the reader:
It's always been fascinating to me 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.
Reid simultaneously tackles themes of fame, diversity, discrimination, and crime throughout the plot. Evelyn is all of that which a Hollywood starlet like Elizabeth Taylor should not be, but like all humans, her story is filled with both darkness and light.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo plot reminded me of a time before social media and reality television -- when I would grab a tabloid at the grocery counter and peer through it with anticipation of learning something about who my favorite stars really were beyond the beauty of the screen. I recommend it to, those who enjoy intimate character portraits and those who are open-minded to a woman with a very scandalous life.
For more like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo:
- I recommend the movie Sunset Boulevard (the Broadway musical of the same name is my all-time fave).
- You may also want to check out some books and the scoop I posted on an old Hollywood American princess, Grace Kelly, or read Jessica Simpson's "Open Book", for a really salacious memoir about her life in the limelight.
- Since Hollywood tabloids are kind of a thing of the past, I recommend instead that you listen to my guilty pleasure -- the Juicy Scoop podcast, for some light comedy with a Hollywood theme and lots of gossip, hosted by female comedian Heather McDonald.
- Read more character-driven books and LGBTQ books like The Great Believers and This Is How It Always Is.
- Read more from the catalog of Taylor Jenkins Reid.
- And, lastly, my friends at Beyond the Bookends have an amazing post about how to host an Old Hollywood book club.