Reed Books: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Jess Reed, Editor

When my book club for English class suggested reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I was simultaneously excited and a little dismayed. On one hand, I had heard the book was incredible, but on the other, I was getting frustrated by “booktok” books being super cliched, tropey, semi-problematic YA novels with no real depth.

I was proven very wrong.

The novel switches perspectives between Monique, a journalist who is interviewing ex-Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo for a biography, and excerpts from the biography itself. The two perspectives merge at the end as Monique and Evelyn’s connection is revealed.

All of Evelyn’s chapters are brilliant. They’re emotional, but not long-winded, as they are being told in hindsight. Thus, all “fluff” is eliminated. The first person narration, however, keeps them personal and emotionally interesting. The novel is paced well, separated into sections for each of Evelyn’s seven husbands. The overall aesthetic for the novel really comes through – old Hollywood, film, red carpets, etc. It’s all very atmospheric.

However, Monique’s chapters are a serious drag. It’s not just that they retract from the book in general, but it’s that the writing is genuinely…bad. Here, Reid doesn’t show, but tells. Monique thinks (or says) her motivations and emotions outright. The writing is expository, shallow, and unrealistic.

But then we go back to Evelyn’s chapters, and it feels like another author altogether.

I think Reid could have benefited by doing what she so clearly wanted to do and writing the fictional biography itself. As my review of A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers can attest, fake tell-alls can be extremely successful. The need for a buffer between the story and the reader only serves as a mediocre and unnecessary middle-man.

Since Monique’s chapters are few and far between, however, I still wholeheartedly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


On a personal note, this is my final Reed Books article! I hope anyone who has read these over the last three years (three years!) has gotten something valuable out of my reviews, even if they disagree with every one. It’s been a pleasure to shout my thoughts into a semi-void.

And remember, if you don’t know what to do, where to turn, or who to talk to…

You can always read books.