The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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I read the eBook and also listened to some of the audio. I had a few dislikes about the audio: a) the chapter numbers don't line up with the eBook. I think that the audio numbered some of the fake newspaper articles between chapters as if they were their own chapter b) I really didn't care for the way Evelyn sounded on the audio - it wasn't like I had imagined it and I never got used to it. It wasn't horrible, just like when you imagine a character as a tall, skinny, brunette and then you see a film and the actress is a short red-head.

My bigger issue with the book, is that it is very much a LGBTQIA+ story and I feel like this was not disclosed in the synopsis. For example, on Goodreads, there is a mention of "long-held secrets" and "a great forbidden love", but my mind doesn't naturally leap to the idea of a homosexual relationship. I generally am not in favor of spoilers, but I am much less in favor of sneak attacks on the readers. I'm sure that there are some who will read my review and call me homophobic, or worse. I will not be cliché and say I have gay friends. But just as I would not randomly subject them to stories about my love-life, I don't expect them to tell me their deep, dark secrets. I actually find the book not only ironic, but somewhat hypocritical, because Evelyn frequently reflects on how she couldn't live as her authentic self, and this book masquerades as a celebrity tell-all about a woman and her seven male husbands when, truly, that is not the authentic self of the book. By the time we realize what this book is about, we are a third of the way through. (Ch. 19, ePg. 122)

As much as I was frustrated by this unexpected ambush, I did appreciate that when Monique classifies Evelyn as "gay", Evelyn stands her ground and says, "I'm bisexual. Don't ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box." (Ch. 19, ePg. 123) I also appreciate the theme of the book, "allowing people to tell you who they are instead of reducing them to labels". (Ch. 19, ePg. 123) I liked when Evelyn struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Celia. On the one hand, agreeing that there is "nothing wrong with" Celia (Ch. 20, ePg. 132) but on the other rationalizing that if she limited her thoughts about Celia, she could pretend her feelings weren't real because "homosexuals were misfits" and she "wasn't ready to be one of them". (Ch. 21, ePg. 133)

The book has a wrap-around story of Monique interviewing Evelyn but most of the time the reader is transported to the past as Evelyn tells her story to Monique. When we did come back to present day, I often had to remind myself who Monique was. Perhaps that is the sign of good storytelling, that I was so lost in the story I forgot where I was (looking through Monique's eyes).

On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):

Sex: 4

Religion: 0

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 2

Morality: 1

Traditional: 1

Sex - Several encounters, both hetero- and homo-sexual. Evelyn "started to figure [her] body out quickly. [She] didn't need boys in order to feel good." (Ch. 6, ePg. 44) Oral (Ch. 6, ePg. 49) Ch. 28 ePg. 178

Religion - "g**damn" (Ch. 24, ePg. 153)

Gruesome - blood from an auto accident

Suspense - there was some mild suspense in regards to why Monique was chosen to write the book

Morality - many examples of infidelity and disrespecting the sacrament of marriage. Monique wrote a piece on physician-assisted suicide. (ePgs. 8-9) A girl traded her virginity for a ride to Hollywood. (Ch. 6, ePg. 44) A man has "a fetish for orally pleasing underage girls". (Ch. 6, ePg. 49) Evelyn's gowns are going to be auctioned for cancer research, in addition to the millions she's given to battered women's and LGBTQ+ interests. (Ch. 1, ePg. 11) Evelyn uses sex to get what she wants. (ref. Ch. 6, ePg. 49) Talk of desiring someone you hate and the use of the "f" word. (Ch. 17, ePg. 111) A husband gets "a blow job from some harpy". (Ch. 18, ePg. 121)

Traditional - a lot of focus on homosexual and bisexual relationships. A couple gets divorced within the first year of their marriage. (Ch. 2, ePg. 13) A grown woman wonders if her mother had been a prostitute. (Ch. 6, ePg. 42) Evelyn's mother died when she was young, which left her "with an abusive father, no friends, and a sexuality in my body that my mind wasn't ready for". (Ch. 6, ePg. 43) Evelyn and Don wait until they are married to sleep together. (Ch. 9, ePg. 68) A man is physically abusive towards women. A girl reflects that her parents interracial marriage in the early '80s must have been difficult. (Ch. 14, ePg. 90) At a party, Ruby tells Evelyn that someone is a "lesbian" and also uses the word "dyke". (Ch. 18, ePg. 121) "F" word used twice in a character's self-talk. (Ch. 19, ePg. 124) A male calls his female friend a "b****". (Ch. 20, ePg. 129) Two women sleep naked, "holding each other". (Ch. 21, ePg. 137)

Overall it's a well-put-together book. The inserted news articles are fun. There were only a couple of minor inconsistencies. One was when Evelyn was just getting started in Hollywood and only had small parts, but she had a trailer. I don't know much about Hollywood, especially in that time period, but it seems weird that a small part would have her own trailer. Also, in Ch. 17 (ePg. 109), when Celia and Evelyn are hanging out at her house, they want to make a fire and Evelyn says she'll "start trying to guess how to get it started". This seems funny for someone who grew up poor, in Hell's Kitchen. She didn't always have servants so it seems like she would've learned how to light a fire since they would have been a common method of providing heat for the home. On a second read I noticed that Evelyn said, "my blood started beating so fast that my pulse was all I could hear." (Ch. 18, ePG. 121) Personally I think blood should be exchanged for heart. There was also a time when Celia's hair was fanned on the pillow (ePg. 344) and then in the same scene she takes the hair tie out of her hair. (ePg. 348)

Discussion Questions

Monique said her boss, Frankie, "was part of the reason I took this job". (Ch. 1, ePg. 3)
Have you ever taken a job because of a particular boss?

Evelyn insisted Monique was the only journalist she would speak to. (ePg. 5) What were your ideas, throughout the novel, about why Evelyn chose Monique? What about when Evelyn told Monique, "You, of all people, are going to change your mind about that." (Ch. 46, ePg. 272) Did Evelyn do the right thing by hiring Monique?

Monique watched a bunch of Evelyn's films and started "to fall in love with her". (Ch. 2, ePg. 15)
What celebrities have you fallen in love with?

Evelyn said she does have regrets, but "not really the sordid things". (Ch. 3, ePg. 25) She believes that "sometimes doing the right thing gets ugly". What are some things that you regret? What do you think you should regret but you don't? Do you believe you can "be sorry about something and not regret it"? (Ch. 3, ePg. 25)

When Monique began asking questions, before she just listened to Evelyn's story, how frustrated were you every time Evelyn did not answer but just said, "next question"? (Ch. 3, ePg. 28)

Monique remembered her dad helping her learn to adjust to cold water at the beach. (Ch. 4, ePg. 32)
What are your tips for adjusting to cold water? Do you ease in slowly or dive in and get it over with?

Evelyn believed the world doesn't give you things, you have to take them when you have the opportunity. (Ch. 4, ePg. 35)
How does this advice line up with how you live your life?

Ari kept putting requirements for Evelyn to complete before he would cast her in Little Women. (ref. Ch. 9, ePg. 67)
Did you think she would actually get cast in Little Women?

Evelyn loved Don when she married him. Did he feel the same about her?

Monique's dad told her, "You have to find a job that makes your heart feel big...". (Ch. 14, ePg. 89) She said this advice shaped her life and wonders if she would have placed such importance on it if her dad had lived longer. (Ch. 14, ePg. 90)
Do you think it was just good timing or did Monique place more importance on her dad's advice because she received less of it?
Have you ever received any advice that shaped your life? Does your job make your heart feel big?

Evelyn did not want to tell Don that a fan had complemented his work, because she feared Don would think she was making fun of him and he would hit her. (Ch. 15, ePg. 98) Are there things you skip telling your husband because you anticipate a negative reaction? (Note: If you fear a negative physical reaction - please seek help from a women's organization.)

Intimate thoughts:

  • "People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your yourself to them...and their response is 'You're safe with me' --that's intimacy." (Ch. 17, ePg. 112) How do you define intimacy?

  • When Evelyn is working on the film with Max (Ch. 45), she reflects that "Women have sex for intimacy. Men have sex for pleasure." (ePg. 262) Do you think this is true? What makes it different based on gender? Is it okay that women and men have different views on this topic? Did Evelyn want to push the envelope on the film truly "to put that seed of a thought into other women's brains" or was it really for her own fame? (Ch. 45, ePg. 263)

When Evelyn confronted Celia about being a lesbian, Evelyn thought she (Evelyn) had a right to know. (Ch. 20, ePg. 126) Did she?
Evelyn told Harry she thought "all of us have at least a little bit of that secret within us" referring to being homosexual. (Ch. 20, ePg. 130) Do you agree with Evelyn - does everyone have a bit of homosexual in them?

Evelyn realized that both she and Harry had gotten into showbiz for the glory and for their egos. She thought they "were both fortunate" to find their humanity in it. (Ch. 20, ePg. 131) In what ways did Evelyn find her humanity?
Was it when she lied and used people? Were there other ways that were more positive or was she deluding herself?

"Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it." (Ch. 21, ePg. 133) The author indicates that this is the moment when Evelyn realizes she is in love with Celia.
In your life, has reality been brisk or patient with you? What is a reality that it took you a long time to recognize?

Monique views divorce as a loss. Evelyn says, "Heartbreak is loss. Divorce is a piece of paper." (Ch. 22, ePg. 140) It is implied that with age you become more cynical or more of a realist and divorce doesn't seem so bad. Does the impact of divorce change with age?

Evelyn reflects on award shows and says they are "all curated to make the audience at home feel like outsiders, to make you feel like a fly on the wall of a club you aren't good enough to get into." (Ch. 24, ePg. 153) How do you feel when you watch award shows?
In what ways did this novel change the way you view award shows, or Hollywood in general? How do you feel now about co-stars that wind up romantically involved? Did this novel change your viewpoint on these couples? What about the tabloids, especially since Harry and Evelyn intentionally got caught by the tabloids. (Ch. 33, ePg. 216) Towards the end of the novel we also saw the falsification of a celebrity death. (Ch. 56, ePg. 333) How often do you think the true cause of death is falsified for celebrities?

Evelyn says, "I knew what got me famous the first time. I knew what it could do a second time." (Ch. 25, ePg. 159)
What did you think was the secret of Evelyn's success?

Ruby told Evelyn she should have warned her about Don's abuse. Should Evelyn have said something to Ruby? (Ch. 33, ePg. 217)

At the end of Ch. 44, Evelyn says she ruined the happy family she had built. (ePg. 259) What did you think she had done to ruin it?

Celia thought she could not love Evelyn enough to keep her; that Evelyn could not "be loved enough to be anyone's". (Ch. 45, ePg. 268) Do you feel like this was a good observation of Evelyn or was it contradictory to how you saw her?

Evelyn thought an Oscar meant "credibility or gravitas" (Ch. 48, ePg. 277) but she didn't really think she had those qualities.
What qualities have you found personally elusive or what qualities have you needed to prove to yourself?

Monique's mother still calls her a "little dumpling baby". (Ch. 50, ePg. 282) What childhood nicknames do you still struggle to shed, or what nicknames have you continued for your own children that are now beyond childhood?

Monique was more upset that her divorce indicated a failure than that it was a loss of love. (Ch. 50, ePg. 285-286)
What failures have bothered you more than the actual loss?

When Harry and Evelyn were trying to figure out how they could work out how they could each be with their new love, Evelyn wanted to move to Spain and Harry wanted to move to California. How did you think they would work it out? (Ch. 56, ePg. 325)

Is there a significance to Celia's hair being fanned on the pillow? Evelyn mentions it multiple times: ePg 205, , 316, 344

Evelyn thought being your true self was like "swimming upstream". Celia said "it also feels like taking your bra off at the end of the day." (Ch. 59, ePg. 346) Do you find it difficult to be your true self? What metaphor would you use?

At the end of the novel, when Monique realized what Evelyn was up to, she struggled with whether or not to stop her plan. Did Monique make the right decision in regards to Evelyn? (Ch. 68, ePg. 376-377) What about in regards to Monique's own mother - should she have told her what she learned from Evelyn about Monique's own family? (Ch. 69, ePg. 378)

Monique feels that "You don't have to make yourself OK for a good mother; a good mother makes herself OK for you." (Ch. 69, ePg. 378) The author finished this novel days before her first child was born. She was contemplating motherhood and still contemplating when she wrote Daisy Jones and the Six with a similar line. Ultimately, she believes it is a life long question - what does it mean to be a parent? Do you agree with Monique?

Who was your favorite husband? Which husband was the worst match for Evelyn? Which husband was the best match?
Husband 1: Ernie Diaz, from Hell's Kitchen, worked in the lighting department in Hollywood
Husband 2: Don Adler, leading man, Hollywood royalty, abusive
Husband 3: Mick Riva, singer, Evelyn manipulates him into a quickie-wedding in Vegas on their first date and they file for annulment the next day
Husband 4: Rex North, co-star in Anna Karenina, married to help ensure the film's success, pre-established as an open marriage that lasted close to 3 years until he fell in love with Joy
Husband 5: Harry Cameron, gay man, her agent and the father of her child, Evelyn often called him her best -friend, Evelyn was in her early 30's
Husband 6: Max Girard, French director, Evelyn was in her 40's and felt Max loved the idea of her but didn't actually love her
Husband 7: Robert Jamison, Celia's brother who agreed to marry Evelyn as a cover for her to be with her true love

Theme Ideas

Serve pad thai, like Monique ordered. (Ch. 2, ePg. 14)
chopped salad, like both Evelyn and Monique have when they go to Trambino's. (Ch. 3, ePg. 24)
Serve bottles of
Pellegrino, Cherry tomatoes in plastic baskets, and burrata cheese, like Monique got from her refrigerator. (Ch. 7, ePg. 55)
Serve "
macaroni and cheese and coconut cake", like Monique looked forward to her mom making. (Ch. 7, ePg. 55)
blueberry muffins and coffee, with white mugs and creamer in a stainless steel pitcher, like Grace brought for Evelyn and Monique. (Ch. 7, ePg. 57)
Mediterranean chicken, like Evelyn had Grace order from the place on the corner. (Ch. 19, ePg. 122)
Serve a
charcuterie platter, including cornichons, like Grace served at the beginning of Ch. 23.
Serve "
Cape Codder's, like Evelyn made while Celia was at the awards show. (Ch. 24, ePg. 153)
gibsons like Evelyn drank when discussing marriage with Rex North. (Ch. 31, ePg. 197)
Reubens like Don and Evelyn ate when they got together to talk about another movie. (Ch. 43, ePg. 257)
Serve brown sugar
Pop-Tarts, like Connor preferred over strawberry. (Ch. 54, ePg. 305)
tortillas and caldo gallego like Evelyn made in Spain. (Ch. 59, ePg. 343)
corn chowder (like Monique's mom offered to make) and/or pizza (like they wound up with since Monique didn't have the necessary ingredients). (Ch. 69, ePg. 381)

Do something to raise money for one of the groups Evelyn supported, such as breast cancer research (ref. ePg. 3), battered women's organizations, LGBTQ+ groups (ref. ePg. 11).

Have wigs and sunglasses for your guests to wear like when they took Harry to the park for his birthday. (Ch. 44, ePg. 258)


  • "Lady in Satin" by Billie Holiday, like Don hated but Evelyn played for Celia (Ch. 17, ePg. 107)

  • Duran Duran, like Connor was listening to when Evelyn went to tell her the moving plans (Ch. 57, ePg. 336)