ARC Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ashley | I was intrigued by the premise of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I was also afraid that part of me would find it rather… dull. I picked this up with a bunch of preconceived notions about what Evelyn would be like and worried that reading a sort of autobiography about a fictional woman I have no real direct interest in and her seven husbands would grow old quickly. I was very wrong.
Evelyn Hugo might be one of my favourite characters of all time. Or at least one of my favourite characters I’ve met in the last few years. She was fierce, she was driven, she had no shame, she was wise in retrospect, but she was also deeply flawed, selfish and human. She hurt a lot of people and told a lot of lies. But she was fiercely independent, learning from an early age that no one else in her life was going to help her. She grabbed life and made it hers.
This was, sadly, also her downfall and when she finally found people who were willing to give her everything and help her selflessly, she couldn’t fully let go of that independence. This notion resonates with me deeply. I can see a lot of myself in Evelyn. I feel a very kindred kinship with the way she went through her life, where her priorities were, how unexpected finding that kind of passionate love was. I didn’t always agree with her actions or the way she handled herself in certain situations, but I felt like I understood her motives and her actions.
There’s something so painful about retrospect. In the moment, Evelyn always believed she was making the right choices, that she was taking the right stance, and while it seemed to work out for her for the most part, what she sacrificed and lost to make all of that happen makes you wonder whether it was all worth it. This is a really strong message; it really gives you something to think about.
I kept forgetting that this was a work of fiction. All throughout it, I wanted to jump onto Google and search for movie names and pictures of Evelyn, only to remember that they don’t actually exist. Reid does an incredible job of bringing reality to this piece of work. Nothing is too over the top, though Evelyn’s entire world is larger than life. It’s a balanced and beautiful and heartbreaking story and like I said, I wasn’t expecting that at all.
All of this aside, there’s another part to this book that is almost as intriguing. Evelyn hires Monique to write her story. Only Monique, she doesn’t want anyone else. The entire book alludes to there being more to this story, alludes to Evelyn doing something so horrible that Monique will end up hating her by the end of it, though neither of them seem remotely connected. I often forgot about this part of the book because I was so wrapped up in everything else, to the point that I even missed some carefully placed hints throughout the story that would lead to the ultimate reveal in the end. But it was a good thing that I easily forgot about this because when that moment finally came, it hit me hard. Of course!
To say I enjoyed this book is a vastly unfair understatement. This book bewitched me, much like Evelyn bewitched everyone in her lifetime. This was more than just a story to me, I felt like I was sitting there listening to Evelyn share her story to me directly. At times, I wanted to cry for her. Other times, I wanted to shake some sense into her. But overall, I ended up wanting to thank her, this fictional character, for sharing her brave, passionate and beautiful story. I am going to miss her.
june 13, 2017