Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid



I'm honoured to be part of Simon & Schuster Canada's blog tour for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I've been a fan of Ms Jenkins Reid since her debut novel, and she's got another winner with her latest release. 

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Published: June 13th, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
400 pages (ARC)
Genre: Women’s fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: This review contains marked spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

 

Having read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, I know one thing for sure: when you read one of her books, you can expect the unexpected. Going into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I knew absolutely nothing about the story. I didn’t care. From the time I finished TJR's debut, Forever, Interrupted, she’s had a spot on my auto-read list, so it didn’t really matter what her latest book was about, because I knew I’d likely devour it and love it, and I was right.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a story about love, friendship, secrets, loss, and doing whatever is necessary to survive and succeed. It takes place from the 1950s until present day, alternating between modern day, with Monique’s story, and spanning through the decades with Evelyn’s story about her humble beginnings through her success as a Hollywood star.

Evelyn was an incredibly complex character. She was deeply flawed, but she was refreshingly aware of those flaws - in fact, she’d be the first to point them out. She was ruthless at times, and she knew it. She did whatever it took to rise to the top - used people, hurt people, told lies. She was criticized for the things men often do that no one thinks twice about, and she was shameless in that. She used her body and her sex appeal to get what she wanted. She did whatever it took to get ahead, to keep her secrets, to live the life she wanted. Her strength and her vulnerability made me truly feel for her.

This story really makes you think about Hollywood and how things are handled. I loved the addition of the tabloid articles every few chapters. You’d see things from Evelyn’s perspective as they happened and then get the media’s skewed version, almost always more salacious. There’s so much speculation and out-and-out lies told about celebrities, and this book really showcased that. It was sad that Evelyn had to be careful who she trusted, but it was also fascinating how she learned to spin the press to her own advantage on many occasions. I’m not the type to believe anything in tabloids (I don’t actually read them, but I’ve made a game out of reading the ludicrous headlines in a scandalized voice while waiting in line at the grocery store - as you do), but I do see occasional celebrity gossip/news online, and it makes me wonder about some of the things I’ve read and heard about my favourite celebrities. It’ll definitely make me stop and think about certain things I hear from now on.

SPOILERS AHEAD DEALING WITH THE ROMANCE IN THE BOOK

Before I read this book, I saw several people shelve it under LGBTQ+ on GoodReads, and I was curious. I thought maybe Evelyn had kissed a woman or even had sex with a woman, or that maybe one of her husbands was gay, hence the LGBTQ+ shelving. So I was shocked - pleasantly so - to discover Evelyn Hugo was bisexual. As a bisexual woman myself, I think the storyline was handled well, and I was impressed and pleased with how TJR captured the complexities and nuances of sexuality, and the fact it’s not black and white (as Evelyn once said Celia saw it, depending on whether she loved or hated Evelyn). It was heartbreaking and eye-opening to see how Evelyn and Celia had to hide their relationship for fear it would ruin their careers or possibly even put them in danger. I rooted for them, laughed with them, cried with them. Their relationship was tumultuous, frustrating, passionate, full of heartache and joy, and was ultimately so beautiful and meaningful. I was glad that in the end, Evelyn wanted people to know her true self and who her one true love was.

/END SPOILERS

Words can’t do justice to how impressed I am with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s storytelling abilities. Once again, with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, she has blown me away. This is an emotional story with characters that leap off the pages. If you’re looking for a unique, fast-paced, compelling story with plenty of twists, I highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.


 




{My review of Forever, Interrupted || My review of After I Do || My review of Maybe in Another Life || My review of One True Loves}

Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Taylor Jenkins Reid's other books? If you could read a biography about any celebrity, who would it be?
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~Marie

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