Dystopian novel set in SOUTH EAST FRANCE
Novel set in New York and Hollywood
16th February 2022
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, novel set in New York and Hollywood.
This is the second book I have read by this author (the first was Malibu Rising). I really enjoy her writing style, as it is seamless and hangs together really well. In Malibu Rising, set in in Malibu, of course, one of the characters in that book finds his genesis in this novel. It’s quirky when, as a reader, you discover a link like that.
Monique is summoned to interview Evelyn Hugo, now in her dotage, by the actress diva herself. Monique works for a magazine and she is fairly junior. She has been hand picked for some obscure reason, much to the chagrin of her boss, who could find many more talented and experienced journalists to really create a storm of a story for the magazine. This is the hook into the story as Evelyn begins to trawl through her seven marriages and the build up to why each partner was a good fit at the particular point in her life. She does not spare her interviewer the details of each marriage, her mercenary reasons for her choices and her constant search for love and companionship in the cut throat world of the film industry.
It was hard being a woman in the studios in the mid 50s. It wasn’t all about celebrity, it was about fighting off threats, managing the requirements, society’s expectations and simply being savvy. Her fist marriage was to a New Yorker, a conscious choice to get her out of Hell’s Kitchen. Next up was Hollywood royalty. Don Adler but theirs was a competitive relationship that (without spoilers) ended. Subsequent liaisons were pragmatic choices, love matches, spur of the moment decisions and friendship. She reveals her darkest secrets to the willing interlocutor, who starts to have an agenda of her own. Just why did Evelyn pick Monique?
This is a fictional take on the lives of actresses like Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, who got married eight times to seven different men.
Of course this is a novel full of stardom, some of it vacuous (that is the nature of the beast), but much of the narrative is actually about women in the film industry and the pressures of this glamorous existence. Perhaps some things have changed in the 2020s but there is still a long way to go, I imagine.
I really enjoyed this, reading it whilst on holiday and soaking up the gloss and glamour of the era. The feel of setting is strong and there is even a side trip to Spain.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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