I’ve been sitting on this one since Boxing Day, thinking about how to review it. I was expecting to enjoy it when I first picked it up, I wasn’t expecting to finish it within 24 hours and to immediately add it to my ‘Top Ten Of 2017’. But there we go!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has a slightly deceptive title. Superficially, the story revolves around the classic actress, Evelyn Hugo, telling her life story- and all the secrets of her seven husbands- to an unknown journalist. Really, the plot goes much deeper and we lean how Evelyn has loved a woman her entire adult life and how, in the cut throat world of classic Hollywood, this was such a dangerous act.
I loved this book partly because the characters are all so beautifully flawed. Evelyn tells a tale of using men and her sexuality to get ahead in the film industry, while also maintaining she feels no regret for her actions. She’s real, and unflinching and unapologetic. But she’s also inherently likeable. We see her through a young journalist’s eyes and follow her journey from fascination to hatred to forgiveness. The men in Evelyn’s life range from abusive but charming, to generous but lecherous, to loyal and lifelong friends. Her relationship with Celia is at times fraught, but raw. Nothing comes easy, like in real life.
There’s also a great deal of diversity within the story. The two narrators are a young biracial journalist and an elderly bisexual Cuban star. We see queer identities hidden from the world in classic Hollywood, but finally given a voice by Evelyn.
This was definitely one of my top reads of 2017 and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves!