‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ Shines a Light on Old Hollywood and a Woman’s Rise to Fame

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Published March 21, 2018
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The Montclarion
"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the inspiring story of Cuban actress Evelyn Hugo. Photo courtesy of http://taylorjenkinsreid.com

Travel back in time to the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood in Taylor Jenkin Reid’s newest release, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” Told from two perspectives, this historical fiction novel follows Monique, a struggling journalist, who is trying to make a name for herself when she gets offered the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to interview and write the biography for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Evelyn Hugo.

The Hollywood legend has never spoken about how she came to fame in the late ’50s or how she dealt with the pressures of being an A-list celebrity. Now, long after Evelyn has retired from acting, she is ready to share her life story with the world.

Told through flashbacks, readers learn about Evelyn’s success, mistakes and her infamous seven marriages throughout the course of her illustrious career. As Evelyn delves deeper into her past, Monique connects with the starlet and realizes that their lives intertwine in ways she never anticipated.

Readers will immediately fall for Evelyn: an ambitious Cuban-American woman who has always dreamed of becoming a star and will do anything, even marrying men she doesn’t love, to become successful.

While she appears to be flawless on movie screens, off-camera she is anything but perfect. She frequently makes mistakes and deceives others under the pressure of the media and those around her to show that even the most alluring people have their faults.

The cutthroat world of Hollywood takes center stage in this novel. Evelyn’s life is continually molded by the restrictive and suffocating ideals that every star had to follow at the time. She is forced to change her personality, name and appearance in order to fit in with the actresses who are all treated as objects of desire.

She also experiences the erasure of her Cuban heritage and grapples with having to marry men to remain relevant in her society’s eyes. Evelyn’s experience as an actress breaks down the facade of the movie business and showcases the darker side of Hollywood that actors and actresses had to deal with in order to be stars.

The relationships Evelyn has throughout her life play an important role in her growth as a character. Through her multiple marriages, she finds her voice in a world that wants to limit her and stands up for what she believes in. However, the most important relationship that Evelyn has is with her costar, Celia St. James. Their dynamic is awe-inspiring and challenges social norms as the two strong women overcome obstacles and become two of the most well-known actresses of their time.

This novel is about more than an actress who has had many marriages in her lifetime. It is about a Cuban woman who was able to rise to the top of Hollywood when all the odds were set against her. It is about forbidden love, life-long friendships, secrets, lies, failed marriages and breaking down the boundaries set in show business that prevent people from truly expressing themselves.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” will transport its readers into the enchanting and gritty world of old Hollywood. Readers will fall for Evelyn’s lavish life and inspiring personality that is more complex than meets the eye.

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