Popular TikTok suggestion a must-read

Imagine that you are an up and coming journalist, struggling to gain recognition. Then out of nowhere, a wildly famous movie star requests you to write their biography. Would you accept?


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, recently became very popular on TikTok. Although it was originally released in 2017, it gained traction because of its themes that are relevant to our world today. Since I heard so many people raving about it, I decided to pick up a copy and see if it lived up to the hype. I was pleasantly surprised.


The book tells the life story of old Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo as she recounts it to journalist Monique Grant. Monique is confused as to why Evelyn chose her to write her biography, until she finds out that her life intertwines with Evelyn’s in a shocking and painful way.


The book starts out by telling Monique’s story, then it’s separated into parts by Evelyn’s seven husbands as she beings to tell her story to Monique. The names of the men are Ernie Diaz; who she married at 14, Don Adler; a famous movie star, Mick Riva; a singer who Evelyn marries on a drunken night in Vegas, Rex North; an actor that strikes a business arrangement with Evelyn, Harry Cameron; Evelyn’s best friend, Max Girard; a French director, and Robert Jamison; Celia St. James’ brother.


Evelyn then begins to tell the story of her life to Monique, starting with her rough upbringing in Hell’s Kitchen, her start in Hollywood, the birth of her daughter, the tragic death of many people close to her, and of course her seven marriages along the journey.


Although the beginning of the story seems a bit slow, the glamour and drama of the book quickly sweeps you up. Reid’s writing does an amazing job of conveying the sparkle of Hollywood in the 1950’s. I felt like I was transported back in time, although not all good. Throughout the story Evelyn is impacted by the lack of women’s rights and respect for women in Hollywood. She has to exploit her body and work much harder than any man to become successful.


When I first started reading the book I was skeptical, because the description was very vague and the start of the story was somewhat slow. However, as I got further in it interested me more and more. By the second chapter I could barely bring myself to put it down.


I can’t talk about the book without mentioning Evelyn’s sexuality, as it was such an integral part of the story. Evelyn states in the book that her one true love was Celia St. James, a woman she met while working on a movie. Celia is a gorgeous woman that originally Evelyn saw as competition. However, as they spend more time together Evelyn realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye, and they fall in love. Same sex relationships were discouraged at that time, especially for people in the spotlight. Because of this, almost all of Evelyn’s actions in the book are to protect their relationship or herself.


“I spent half my time loving her and the other half hiding how much I loved her,” is one of my favorite quotes from the book regarding their relationship. It really emphasizes how much gay relationships were frowned upon at the time, so much so that Evelyn felt the need to go to great lengths to hide their union. By far my favorite plot line in the story is Celia and Evelyn’s love story.


Besides her lovers, there were also a select few people in Evelyn’s life that remained constant. The most significant one being Harry Cameron, the person that helped Evelyn start her career in film.


I loved Harry and Evelyn’s relationship. Although they did get married, Harry and Evelyn were best friends. I see them more as platonic soulmates. They were the only people in each other’s lives that were always there for each other, no matter what. Their story had a tragic ending, but Harry supported Evelyn and was there for her through everything.


The most shocking plot twist in the book was between Monique’s dad and Evelyn. Monique’s dad and Harry (who was married to Evelyn at the time) were secretly in love, and were both killed in a car crash while Harry was driving drunk. Evelyn framed Monique’s dad for the crash, and when Monique finds out it brings up many emotions. After this, Evelyn and Monique make amends and end on good terms.


One of my favorite parts of the book was hearing Evelyn explain her choices and the reasoning behind them. Although people perceive her as a shallow celebrity, Evelyn has had a lot of hardships in her life and is extremely intelligent/wise. Her choices are realistic, she’s human, she’s far from perfect, she prioritizes herself, and cares about her loved ones a lot.


I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone. Not only is it a beautifully messy story, it teaches you more about life and encourages looking deeper than the surface. I gained a lot of insight while reading it.


“You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until someone stands behind you and says, ‘It’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.’”