The cult of celebrity is as strong now as it’s ever been. There was a time when becoming a star took at least a measure of talent and/or some willingness to work hard and sacrifice. Of course, a bit of luck never hurt. But now a random TikTok video can elicit instant stardom. It’s so strange, our obsession with celebrities. We impart on them superhuman status while also desperately searching for signs of relatability. We chat about their personal lives; discussing their favorite Starbucks drink (which was documented on IG), or their most recent stint in rehab (an event never confirmed, but rumors abound). And if you are a devotee of the cult, you’ll be led to believe that you do, in fact, know these celebrities. Hell, at times, I even fall into the trap. I was suckered in like most with the recent Oscars’ fiasco; the slap heard ‘round the world. I spent two solid days on that one, didn’t I? Like many others, I was disillusioned because the behavior of the celebrity involved didn’t square with my previous perceptions. But the thing is, celebrities present to the public, the image they want you to see, the one that they have allowed you to see. How closely that image resembles reality, the public will never know. It could be just another performance, worthy of those portrayed on the silver screen. This preface leads us to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
The former Hollywood screen queen, Evelyn Hugo, has decided it’s time to tell her story. The public already knows her as a successful Academy Award winning actress. They also know her for her sultry glamor and a physical beauty carefully maintained over several decades in the film industry. But when one thinks of Evelyn Hugo, the first thing that likely comes to mind are her seven high-profile marriages. Well now she’s ready to set the record straight, with a tell-all interview, detailing her rise to fame, the inner workings of Old Hollywood, the film roles that brought her both praise and scorn, and of course she’ll discuss…the marriages. But Evelyn Hugo has some surprises up her sleeves. Secrets will be revealed. And there are stipulations. Ms. Hugo is only willing to be interviewed by one journalist, whom she has hand-picked as her eventual biographer. Monique Grant.
Yes, that’s the prevailing response when Evelyn Hugo’s choice of interviewer is announced. Monique Grant’s obscurity makes her an odd pick. She has some solid work under her belt, but Monique has yet to find true success as a writer. The opportunity to interview, and subsequently write the biography of a former (now reclusive) starlet would be difficult to pass up. Evelyn Hugo’s persona conjures up intrigue and mystery. Her style, impeccable. Her performances on screen, bold and iconic. Monique would be insane to turn down an offer of access to Evelyn’s life story. But the doubts fester. Why did Evelyn choose her? A little-known writer of online content.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a highly entertaining novel. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented storyteller who has a knack for well-timed revelations; these jarring twists that keep the reader fully invested and engaged. Reid supplements this particular story with commentary involving gender politics and representations of the LGBTQ community during a time when exposure was met with severe consequences both personally and professionally. You’ve likely noticed the similarities between the fictional life of Evelyn Hugo and the very real life of Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, the parallels are certainly there. The beauty. The glamor. The enigma. The husbands. But at least by the end of this novel, you’ll know all there is to know about Evelyn Hugo. The real stars shall remain a mystery.
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