‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ and the glamorously scandalous world of Hollywood


Michael Buckner | taylorjenkinsreid.com

Samantha Sollitto

Evelyn Hugo is a movie star who has never turned away from saying exactly what she’s thinking. While her language may be vivacious and glamourous, she leads a life of false contentment.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a historical fiction novel set in both the present day and the 1950s. The novel currently is number three on The New York Times best seller list, ranking there for almost 54 weeks.

The book follows Hugo as she recounts her life to Monique Grant, a journalist who is searching for success. The novel opens with Grant at Vivant Magazine where it’s revealed that Hugo, to everyone’s surprise, requested that Grant interview her about the auction of her old dresses for breast cancer awareness.

Once Grant finally meets the reclusive star, it’s revealed that the article proposed to her magazine was a guise to get them to meet. The real proposal is a multi-million-dollar biography on Hugo’s love life, a truly twisted story.

Reid’s ability to create fictional celebrities is astounding. It allows the reader to be put into Grant’s shoes, becoming the journalist who inquires about Hugo’s captivating life, while also bringing us back to “Old Hollywood” — an infamously scandalous place in which morality stayed hidden.

Reid noted in an interview with YOU Magazine that prior to the groundbreaking success of “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” something had been missing in her novels. “I realized what I hadn’t been doing was atmosphere,” she mused.

“I thought, I’m going to transport you to a time and place, a world you can lose yourself in.”

So, who was Hugo’s one true love? Most readers assumed the question was answered in the title, and that it was alluded to be one of her seven husbands.

But Reid draws the reader in and slaps them right in the face for not paying close enough attention. Hugo’s true love was her former co-star Celia St. James, a talented actress who invaded the industry a few years after Hugo and was viewed as her greatest threat.

This reveal may seem like a spoiler, but the reader is told rather early that St. James and Hugo were more than just co-stars. Hugo learns at a party that St. James is a lesbian. When she confronts her about it, the two share a kiss. At the center of this novel is a heart-wrenching love story between two women whose greatest enemy was time.

In today’s world, sapphic media is limited. Most media including or surrounding sapphic love does not receive as much attention as its counterparts.

While “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” might not end with its couples alive, Reid does give them the courtesy of living their last days together, rather than the on-again, off-again relationship they had experienced during their early years. She does a remarkable job at portraying the hardships of navigating fame while hiding your truest self.

“So do yourself a favor and learn how to grab life by the balls, dear,” Hugo says to Grant. “Don’t be so tied up in trying to do the right thing when the smart thing is so painfully clear.”

Netflix is currently set to release a film adaptation of Reid’s novel, but the date has yet to be announced.