#BookTok Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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Clara Martinez

“Circe,” the second book selected for the #BookTok Bookshelf, is currently circulating the TikTok “For You” page. Written by Madeline Miller and set in Ancient Greece, “Circe” narrates the story of an independent, immortal Titan daughter exploring her power with witchcraft and a mortal romance while isolated on a remote island.

Clara Martinez, News Editor: Print

Hello, readers! This book review kicks off my “#BookTok Bookshelf” column, where I, a seasoned reader of Emily Brontë and F. Scott Fitzgerald, dive into the frightening depths of reading recommendations found on social media.

“BookTok” rose to popularity in 2021 as a subsection of TikTok, an app intended for short videos ranging from dances to advice to lip syncing. Books recommended by popular creators went viral, and the hashtag “BookTok” was born. It currently has almost 20 billion views.

With over 18 million views under its hashtag on TikTok, this 2017 romantic historical fiction novel “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”  could be even more of a hit than “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller, published back in 2011.

A story of fame, lies and love, with seven men along the way, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid follows the seemingly glamorous life of Evelyn Hugo as she reflects upon her experience navigating Hollywood stardom from the 1950s to the ’80s. 

Used with permission from Washington Square Press

Commencing her story as a young teen in the notorious New York City neighborhood Hell’s Kitchen, Evelyn goes on record to magazine reporter Monique Grant to share her story for the first time. After weeks of recording, she concludes her story with her departure from showbiz in the 1980s.

Monique is attempting to kickstart her career as a serious journalist when Evelyn initially initiates contact with her. She offers Monique a story worth millions of dollars, one of which fans were left in the dark about when she disappeared from the spotlight 30 years prior. The story revolves around a seemingly simple question: Who was truly the love of her life?

The mystery further unfolds when Monique finally realizes Evelyn hand-picked her to bring the story to life on paper. Evelyn goes to extreme lengths to solidify Monique as the author, even denying Monique’s employer, “Vivant” magazine, from investigating the story. Despite the unraveling of Evelyn’s equally scandalous and captivating life, the mystery of why Monique was chosen constantly resurfaces.

I must admit, this book appeared on my “For You Page” quite a few times before I finally gave in and decided to pay a visit to my local Barnes & Noble. Based on the title, I assumed the book would be a repetitive stream of “meet-cute” romances ending in drunken annulment. Initially low expectations set the stage for the shocking originality of this book, almost making me glad I judged the book by its cover.

Much of the novel’s uniqueness stems from the swapping perspectives of Monique and Evelyn. Often without warning, the narrator will switch from Monique as she deals with her developing divorce to Evelyn as she recounts her career. In addition, the novel is split into seven parts, recounting each husband and his role in Evelyn’s life.

The unique organization of the novel seems to be the crux of the book’s appeal to readers, especially young adults. It masterfully balances old Hollywood gossip with true emotion and a relationship that readers will root for throughout. 

Reid writes with astounding complexity, taking into account how the experiences gained from every marriage shape the person Evelyn becomes as the story unfurls.”

The distinctive concept of the book is also made universally appealing by delving into the most sought-after questions of all: What is love? What does it mean to really be in love, versus have love for another person? Perhaps these are the kinds of questions someone might scrawl into the lonely margins of a translated poem anthology.

Yet, somewhere in the 385 pages of this book, Reid seems to delve into the interworking of almost every type of romance. She even attacks nearly every marriage cliché. From an overnight Vegas groom to Hollywood’s biggest heartthrob, each hopeless suitor came and went for a different reason. 

Reid writes with astounding complexity, taking into account how the experiences gained from every marriage shape the person Evelyn becomes as the story unfurls. Ripped straight from the gossip column headlines of the twentieth century, this fast-paced novel will likely send you in a slump waltzing down the aisle of your local bookshop.