The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I read a lot of this book on an airplane a few weeks ago and it was excellent plane reading for me: the plot speeds along and I was pretty engrossed. The premise: Evelyn Hugo is a major movie star who hasn’t given an interview in years, but who, when the book opens, has just reached out to a magazine to say she wants to do an exclusive piece with them—but only if one of their junior writers, Monique Grant, will write it. So Monique’s boss sends her over to talk to Evelyn, and Evelyn explains that actually, she doesn’t want to do an interview with the magazine: she wants to tell Monique her life story, and she wants Monique to write a book about it—to be published after Evelyn’s death. This is the career break Monique has been waiting for, but she can’t figure out why, exactly, Evelyn asked for her, and she’s not sure how she’s going to tell her boss at the magazine about the situation. But no matter: Monique sits down with Evelyn for a series of interviews, in which Evelyn talks about her film career, her ambition, her seven marriages, and the love of her life. I like how the book alternates between first-person narration by Evelyn and first-person narration by Monique, with magazine/tabloid articles about Evelyn and her career thrown in periodically so we get a sense of how Evelyn and her relationships were discussed in earlier decades, and a sense of how/why public perception might have influenced some of Evelyn’s actions and choices. The subject matter/style did sometimes make me roll my eyes: an early passage where Monique is talking about her weight made me cringe, and there were too many descriptions of outfits I didn’t care about (I mean: I don’t mind the descriptions of Evelyn’s awards ceremony dresses, but I didn’t care about what she was wearing when Monique was interviewing her—or about what Monique was wearing). And the writing sometimes felt clunky: there’s one point when Monique says “Enough with the vagaries, Evelyn” when what it seems she’s trying to say is “stop being vague,” which isn’t what vagaries means at all. (And I feel like Monique, as a writer, should know that, which makes me feel like it’s the author’s mistake that a copy editor should have caught.) But the story is such a page-turner that I didn’t mind that much.






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