This post contains affiliate links. I received an advance galley of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors – that’s no secret since I’ve raved about her over and over since discovering her about a year ago. Her next book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, comes out this June on Atria Books. I’ll be honest: I was not excited about this book. After all these years I know that I shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but one of my favorite things about TJR’s books is the cover art. The minimalism and the symbolism are gorgeous (and they look beautiful on the bookshelf) so when EW debuted the cover, I was really disappointed. I was lucky enough to get a galley, and soon enough I was so sucked in that I had forgotten all about my cover woes. Instead of writing a traditional book review, I thought I’d instead share some of the different lessons the book’s characters taught me.
Potential spoilers are ahead, so if you want to read the book knowing nothing, bookmark this post and come back later!
- Poor Ernie Diaz: Career goals can tear relationships apart. There’s nothing wrong with Evelyn’s first husband – an unassuming electrician who helps her move across the country. But sometimes working for your own career goals can take a toll on your relationship (for more than one reason.)
- Goddamn Don Adler: What goes around comes around. Don Adler is not a good dude. At all. So even though their relationship looks absolutely perfect from the outside, it’s impossible for anyone to see what’s really happening. Rather than risking her status and outing him for who he is, she instead suffers a career loss, getting blackballed in Hollywood after leaving him. (He seems to get his in the end.)
- Gullible Mick Riva: Sometimes other people get caught in the crossfire when keeping yourself safe. One of the most relatable parts of the books to me was the reality of how the characters behave. Though it’s set on a Hollywood stage, Evelyn doesn’t really seem to make any different choices than many of the people around me (or even myself) would make. Mick Riva plays an integral part in protecting Evelyn and the love of her life and even though he doesn’t seem too hurt or guilty in the end, it’s a good study of how we sometimes have to use each other to stay safe. I especially liked this chapter because it has some second person language, which I always really enjoy.
- Clever Rex North: There’s power in pairs. Possibly one of the only other characters in the book with the same drive to succeed as Evelyn, Rex North is her co-star in a smash movie – such a successful movie that the studio orders several other movies starring the couple. To make themselves even more marketable, they marry with an understanding and just like their relationship, the breakup is staged just as well.
- Brilliant, Kind-Hearted, Tortured Harry Cameron: The best partnerships might not be what we expect. Potential spoiler alert, sorry! Harry is present throughout the novel as one of the first people Evelyn meets when she moves to Hollywood. From the first description, they don’t seem like they’d be a great match, but he is a great example that soulmates look different than we paint them in our heads.
- Disappointing Max Girard: Sometimes when you get what you want, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Max was Evelyn’s director early in her career, casting her in a role that helped make her an international movie star. Throughout her entire life, they continued to be in contact here and there, and he had idealized her and put her on such a pedestal that he thought he was marrying the perfect Evelyn Hugo, not Evelyn, the person. He helps us learn that you can’t idealize everything – you’ll only be disappointed.
- Agreeable Robert Jamison: What’s meant to be will always find a way. Probably Evelyn’s most successful marriage (aside from that with Harry,) she and Robert are together until his death. They go through one of the worst tragedies possible together, and Taylor Jenkins Reid again introduces words for feelings I’ve had, but could never label: the devastating luxury of panic.
I loved the format of the book – some parts are Evelyn telling her story to Monique, some parts are her actual memoir – and I really liked the character of Evelyn (even though she says time and time again that she is not likable, and she knows it.) Vintage Hollywood isn’t usually interesting to me, but I really enjoyed this book a lot, and it never felt “old timey” since they stuck to her life story rather than her actual career. The most empowering point of the book for me was seeing a woman in charge, getting what she wanted, and protecting herself and the people she loves.
Usually, I’m very good at predicting twists but in this book, I didn’t see the major plot turn coming at all, which was fun. I read this book in one day, just walking around my house, staring intently at my Kindle app, stubbing my toes on doorframes and running into chairs. It’s not a traditional “beach read,” but it’s certainly one you must put on your list for this summer.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo comes out on Atria Books on June 13!