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Evelyn Hugo’s character is as dazzling as the book

Holly Nguyen-Barba

“Doesn’t it bother you? That your husbands have become such a headline story, so often mentioned, that they have nearly eclipsed your work and yourself? That all anyone talks about when they talk about you are the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo?” And her answer was quintessential Evelyn.

“No,” she told me. “Because they are just husbands. I am Evelyn Hugo. And anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.”

This is one of the many powerful quotes in the book “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and published on June 13, 2017. The main character, Evelyn Hugo, was a famous actress from the 60’s whose presence alone was enough to make the people around her stare at her in wonder. 

The story begins with Hugo, a present-day elderly woman, who is known for her fame and having seven husbands in her lifetime. She had contacted an unknown journalist named Monique Grant to write a biography about her life, answering all of the questions and mysteries that have surrounded the actress for decades.

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The book is written as a series of interviews between Grant and Hugo in the present day, where Hugo talks about the key moments in her life for the biography. We are thrown into the very beginning of her life to live Hugo’s life vicariously through her words, where readers see all the moments that shaped her as a person, that then lead to the woman she has become today.

Every time you as a reader are thrown into Hugo’s past life, you see how although many people helped her to get to the fame she has today. She had to sacrifice many things to obtain the so-called celebrity dream that many people, including Hugo herself, dreamed about. For example, she gave up her Cuban heritage by changing her name from Evelyn Elena Herrera to Evelyn Hugo and dyeing her hair blonde to better assimilate into the movie industry.

Slowly, her dream to succeed in the wishes of her mother of becoming a renowned actress transformed into Hugo’s overwhelming dark desire to dominate any movie she was a part of. Her need to become more rich and famous influenced many decisions in her life. She would easily manipulate the people around her to be the best in her work, and lying became so much of a habit for her that it was hard for Hugo to ever be truly fully vulnerable with others in fear of losing all she had. 

Even to the people Hugo cared about, her fear of losing her fame and going back to the hard life as a child who was constantly used by her abusive father kept her from ever being her true self. Hugo for most of her life tries to hide her love for a woman and her ethnicity as a Latina to blend in with the image she created.

Hugo is fictional but her story shows a very real representation of what becoming a well-known actress in old Hollywood was like, along with the hardships that come along with it. Dealing with abusive husbands and hiding what was seen as forbidden love with another woman that was not accepted at the time. Acting not only in her movies but also in her life like a carefully curated chess master who tries to think of her next moves.

This book is full of many twists and turns making you question a lot of Hugo’s actions throughout the story, but ultimately respecting her in all she went through to get to where she is. Reid’s way of writing this book is in a very addictive way that you can’t stop reading. 

Each time Hugo reveals some snippet of her life she describes all her memories in a way that makes it feel as if you are living through it with her which helps a lot with empathizing with her as a character. Reid shows readers Hugo’s growth and failures throughout the whole story, which is written so well with such an interesting character that Evelyn Hugo just feels real because of how well written the story is of a 60’s Hollywood actress.

I would rate this book as a 10/10 read for anyone’s 2024 reading list because you will be hooked by each character introduced and the wildlife of Evelyn Hugo.

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About the Contributor
Holly Nguyen-Barba
Holly Nguyen-Barba, Staff Writer/Media Team
Holly is a photographer/writer for Stargazer. She is a sophomore and has been on the staff since 2022. Holly engages in student journalism because she enjoys capturing the special/important moments of things and sharing them with the world.

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    LauraMar 6, 2024 at 8:36 pm

    Best book ever! I laughed, I cried, I got mad, all emotions! A must read!