Earlier this year, Taylor Jenkins Reid published Daisy Jones and the Six, which has generally been very well received critically and keeps popping up on “Must read” lists. In several review of that book, I saw this, Jenkins Reid’s previous release, from 2017, highly recommended. Several people who were so-so on Daisy Jones and the Six claimed to prefer The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and as movie stars seemed more intriguing to me than rock stars, I decided to give it a try.
There are multiple narratives in this book.There’s the framing story of magazine journalist Monique Grant who is pretty much hand selected by legendary movie star Evelyn Hugo to come interview her and write her life’s story, despite not having written much of worth previously. Neither Monique nor her editor understands entirely why Ms. Hugo is so adamant she will only speak to Monique. Then there’s obviously the long and intricate story of Evelyn’s life, broken up occasionally by glimpses into Monique’s life outside of the interviews.
Living alone and heartbroken, after her husband left her to move to another city, Monique doesn’t really feel that she’s living her best life. Acclaimed and aging movie star Evelyn Hugo is donating some of her most famous gowns to a cancer charity, and the magazine Monique works for would like an interview and an accompanying photo shoot. Ms. Hugo refuses to speak to anyone but Monique (for reasons no one, least of all Monique herself can understand). It also turns out that she has no intention of posing for pictures or being portrayed in an interview. She wants to give Monique the exclusive rights to her life’s story, to be sold to the highest bidder with Monique enjoying the subsequent profits. The catch – Monique can’t publish the book until Ms Hugo is dead, and if she refuses the job, then Evelyn’s long and juicy life’s story will remain untold.
Monique realises that she may end up fired if she takes the job, and it could be years before she’s allowed to publish the book, yet she doesn’t feel she can say no either. So she keeps making excuses to her editor and comes daily to listen to Evelyn recount her biography.
Full review on my blog.