Content/Trigger Warning: Some part of this piece deals with a plotline that deals with suicide. Reader’s discretion is advised.

 

“I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.”
– Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Every once in a while, you pick up a book which changes your whole outlook on life. It is rare to find a book that resonates within you with such fervour, such intensity. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a 2017 historical fiction novel written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It follows the story of the titular Evelyn Hugo, a Latina woman, rising to be one of the greatest stars of Hollywood– and her journey is anything but ordinary.

The novel surprisingly doesn’t start with Evelyn Hugo but Monique Grant, a writer working for the magazine, Vivant. Monique’s life has not been looking good with her professional life stagnant and an impending divorce from her husband, which is why she is astonished to learn that the Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo, is ready to give a tell-all interview but only on the condition that Monique will be her interviewer.

Wondering why a legendary star asked for her personally, Monique goes to meet Evelyn Hugo who reveals that she is not interested in giving an interview, rather, she wants Monique to write her biography.

Evelyn slowly talks about the story of her life, the seven husbands she met and left along the way, and reveals who was the love of her life.

The story beautifully represents what it’s like to be human, to live in a less than stellar world. As a person belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, reading a story centered on characters belonging to a queer background truly delights your heart. Evelyn’s pain of hiding her sexuality makes me glad that society has progressed over time to allow people to love freely and though there’s still a lot to be changed, we have already started upon the path to acceptance.

Amidst the riveting love story and all the gossip and scandals of Evelyn’s marriages, it is easy to forget her determination and will to make life better for herself. She marries her first husband, Ernie Diaz, when she is just fourteen years old to escape her abusive father in Hell’s Kitchen, and divorces Ernie when she is signed on by Sunset Studios. Her drive and determination to succeed makes the story bolder and more passionate.

Evelyn’s repeated insistence that Monique should write a biography in a way that reflects what Evelyn thinks of herself is significant. She will let no one else tell her story, not when she’s the author who wrote her name in history.

Taylor Jenkins Reid also shows the numerous flaws Evelyn has and that makes her more of a compelling character. Evelyn’s actions throughout the book will show that she is no role model, but a strong woman nonetheless with an iron will.

The story ends with a strong message of hope with Evelyn revealing her connection to Monique, their fates having long been intertwined before they even met. Evelyn then commits suicide, becoming the maker of her own death as she was the author of her own life. Monique publishes an article about the biography revealing that Evelyn’s true love was never one of her seven husbands.

Say to them, “Evelyn Hugo just wants to go home. It’s time for her to go to her daughter, and her lover, and her best friend, and her mother. Tell them Evelyn Hugo says good-bye.”
– Taylor Jenkins Reid, Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

– Parvathy Chaithanya, Vidya Mandir PU College, Bengaluru

If you have are considering suicide, please seek professional help on an urgent basis. Please consider contacting any of the lines provided below if you are unable to find a specific professional. If you are from a different country, we recommend dialling your respective mental health and related helplines as soon as possible.

KIRAN Mental Health Helpline (India) – 1800-599-0019

MoHFW Psychosocial Helpline (India) –  08046110007 (with dedicated line for frontline workers on option 5)

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