Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. (Mindscape Reviews)


Hi Readers! I’m so happy that I am having such a fantastic month of May. I have read a lot of books this month, watched a lot of TV shows & movies, learnt a lot of food recipes! 

Talking about books, I recently finished reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ & I really enjoyed it. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it when I had thoroughly loved ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’! She is such a brilliant storyteller & I love how she creates these fictional musicians & bands & actresses to write their fictional biographies. It’s the kind of narrative I now love! If Taylor decided to write fictional biographies of fictional writers or teachers or literally anyone, I’d be down to read them too! Now that you know how excited I am, here goes the review!

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~~INTRODUCTION~~
As the title suggests, the story is about the life of the legendary actress & an international sensation Evelyn Hugo. It revolves around her acting career, her seven marriages, her one intimate on-off relationship & just the brilliance of being Evelyn Hugo. Even if the title says ‘Seven Husbands’, soon into the novel you find out that Evelyn is bisexual & that the love of her life is another actress named Celia St. James. We see how their relationship faces ups & downs throughout the novel, how different every marriage of Evelyn is, the brutality of Hollywood & understand Evelyn Hugo as a real person.

~~CHARACTERS~~
Let’s start with Evelyn Hugo. I think the way she is written, there aren’t enough words to really imagine a woman like that. At the age of 17, she strikes as a woman who can go to any length to achieve her dream of becoming a famous movie star, which was her mother’s dream. She can forget her roots. She can sell her body for it. She can marry a co-actor on a movie for it. She can spread a rumour that she had miscarriages for it. She can act in a graphic sex scene just so the rumours of her being a lesbian go away. She can do anything for it. But then, at the age of 50s, all she wants is a life with Celia. And then toward the end, at the age of 79, when she has lost all the people closest to her, all she wants is to tell her real story to the world. We can see how her character unfolds while reading the novel. While she stays the same ambitious woman with a go-get-it attitude & a no-nonsense aura, we also see her become more human.

Celia St. James is another exceptional actress. Don’t you love watching multiple powerful female characters? I sure do! When I viewed Celia as a standalone woman, I noticed that she is as commendable as Evelyn. But, when they are together, you can see how she lets Evelyn take her over. It’s like her enigma of a personality becomes minuscule in front of Evelyn. Yes, she does stand up for herself against her. Yes, she breaks up with her twice because of her reasons. While Evelyn is always at extremes, Celia is always on the middle ground, which is why it never works out for them until it does. I think there was a lot of scope for the author to portray Celia better.


There are also a lot of characters obviously, given all the husbands. But, all of them are not consequential to this review. Plus, it will take out the fun when you actually read the book. But, we have one important character (Husband No.5) – Harry Cameron. He discovers Evelyn & makes her a star. Soon they become best friends & then a family. Harry is a gay man, which works out perfectly with the story line. Harry is the kindest & most lovable character in the story. It is impossible not to like him.

 We also have Monique Grant who is the one talking to present-time Evelyn to write her biography. Yes, a story in a story, love that too! I really liked how initially Monique was quite a mess, but as she talks to Evelyn, she takes a kind of confidence & courage from her story. The moppy Monique becomes a stand-up woman with a clearer thought-process who is unafraid to demand the things she deserves. I liked this bit of character growth.


~~OVERALL THOUGHTS~~
What can I say? I loved the narrative. I loved the characters. I loved how real they seem to the reader. I loved how intense the characters are that every reader will have different perspectives of them. Once I started the book, I couldn’t keep it down. I finished it in three days! This historical fictional novel had a bit of everything. A bit of mystery. A bit of drama. A bit of life lessons. A bit of LBGTQ+. From all the angles combined, the final product is flawless. I have rated Taylor Jenkins Reid’s ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ at 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I wasn’t sure which category I would put this book in before I started, but now clearly, I have put it in the ‘LGBTQ+’ category in my Reading Challenge.

In the beginning of the novel, Evelyn mentions that everyone related to her story is dead, which was a give-away & yet when we see them dying, it breaks our hearts. I did not see that happening. Also, I liked how for a character like Evelyn Hugo, it would have been predictable that she would not want children. But, just the brilliance of making her wanting to be a mother was something I did not see coming. That was a nice touch to make Evelyn more of a complex character. The book also portrays on the struggle people of LGBTQ+ must have faced in the 50s! The hate & potential risks are portrayed really well. The whole book was like watching a Bollywood movie, only better because I’m sure if it were a Bollywood movie I might not have liked it as much.

Now, I will tell you what I was a bit hesitant about. The book is divided into seven main chapters for the seven husbands. After reading about half of it, it became a bit monotonous to me. The repeating theme of marrying again & again & also the on-off relationship between Evelyn & Celia. If it didn’t have the twist in Harry Cameron’s chapter, I would’ve been let down. I also liked how the author picked up with Husbands sixth & seventh breaking the earlier pattern. That is about it. Apart from these things, I found the book to be entirely entertaining & would definitely recommend reading it!


So, now we have a week of May left. I am hoping to read at least one book more before the month-end to top off the total books read to 10 for the month! Wish me luck! I will soon be back with mini reviews for my May Reads!!
Until next time,

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