“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, published in 2017, is a captivating and emotionally rich novel that explores the complexities of love, ambition, identity, and the facades people maintain for the sake of public image. The story is framed through the eyes of Monique Grant, a relatively unknown magazine reporter, who is unexpectedly chosen by the aging and reclusive Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo, to write her biography and reveal the truths behind her glamorous and scandalous life.

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The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo Summary


Evelyn Hugo, a legendary film actress from the golden age of Hollywood, is known as much for her illustrious career as she is for her many marriages. As Evelyn unfolds her life story to Monique, it becomes clear that her relationships with her husbands were nuanced, serving various purposes—some for love, some for protection, and others for career advancement. The narrative weaves through the decades of Evelyn’s life, from the 1950s to the 1980s, shedding light on her professional triumphs, personal tragedies, and the hidden sacrifices she made along the way.

Plot Summary

The novel begins with Monique Grant, a young and unrecognized writer, being personally selected by Evelyn Hugo to pen her life story. Intrigued and perplexed by Evelyn’s choice, Monique enters the world of the aging starlet, eager to uncover the mysteries of her life.

Through their interviews, Evelyn recounts her journey from a young Cuban immigrant in Hell’s Kitchen to a renowned Hollywood starlet. She divulges intimate details about each of her marriages:

  1. Ernie Diaz: A stepping stone to escape her bleak life in New York.
  2. Don Adler: A volatile and abusive relationship that reflects the darker side of Hollywood’s glamour.
  3. Mick Riva: A fleeting passion that ends in betrayal.
  4. Rex North: A partnership of mutual benefit and public image management.
  5. Max Girard: A deep and intellectual connection marred by external pressures.
  6. James Slate: A complex relationship intertwined with Evelyn’s true desires.
  7. Harry Cameron: The deepest bond of friendship and love, revealing the true nature of Evelyn’s life and sexuality.

The heart of Evelyn’s story revolves around her hidden love affair with Celia St. James, another prominent actress. Their relationship, concealed from the public eye, defines Evelyn’s true self and her most profound love.

As the narrative unfolds, the connection between Monique and Evelyn deepens, revealing unexpected parallels in their lives and leading to a shocking revelation that binds them together. The conclusion of the story not only unveils the complexities of Evelyn’s character but also catalyzes Monique’s own journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo Summary


“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” delves into themes of identity, the dichotomy between a public persona and private reality, and the sacrifices made for love and ambition. The novel examines the constraints imposed on women, particularly in the context of mid-20th-century Hollywood, and the relentless pursuit of personal freedom and authenticity.

Notable Quotes

  • “People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’—that’s intimacy.”
  • “It’s a hard thing to realize that you don’t matter except in the way you can be used by other people.”

Similar Books

Readers fascinated by the blend of historical fiction, Hollywood’s golden era, and complex female protagonists might also enjoy:

  1. “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert – A novel about a young woman’s discovery of a new world in the theater scene of 1940s New York, exploring themes of female sexuality and personal freedom.
  2. “The Girls in the Picture” by Melanie Benjamin – A story about the friendship and collaboration between silent film star Mary Pickford and screenwriter Frances Marion.
  3. “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter – A narrative that spans decades and settings, intertwining the lives of an Italian innkeeper and an American actress, exploring the lasting impact of Hollywood influence.
  4. “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Another novel by Reid that delves into the complexities of fame, creativity, and relationships, set against the backdrop of the 1970s rock music scene.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” stands out as a profound exploration of the human desire for love, recognition, and authenticity, set against the captivating backdrop of Hollywood’s allure and the sacrifices one woman makes to navigate its treacherous waters. Through the intertwining lives of Evelyn and Monique, Taylor Jenkins Reid offers a compelling narrative that resonates with readers long after the final page.

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