3 Sentence Summary
In “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” Taylor Jenkins Reid introduces us to an aging Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo. She entrusts a young journalist named Monique Grant with telling her life story. Throughout the novel, Hugo recounts her experiences with love, abuse, racism, and sexuality, while readers uncover the reason for her choice of Grant as her biographer.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 389
First Published in: 2017
Exciting news arrived on March 24, 2022, when it was announced that the novel will be adapted into a feature film by Netflix. Liz Tigelaar will be writer and Margaret Chernin will serve as the executive producer.
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
Part 1 – Hugo’s Career Trajectory
The novel follows the story of 79-year-old Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo. She gives her life story to struggling journalist, Monique Grant, which includes tales of old Hollywood, love, divorce, abuse, racism, and sexuality. The book focuses on Hugo’s love life as much as it does on old Hollywood, covering relationships, race, misogyny, and sexuality. The novel centers on Hugo’s journey to LA, her seven husbands along the way, and tales of gossip, rumor, relationships, abuse, and forbidden love.
Hugo’s life begins with a young marriage of convenience that leads to Hollywood. After achieving success, she finds love with Don Adler, an up-and-coming movie star. Adler becomes abusive, leading Hugo to find solace in a friendship with a young actress, Celia St. James, whom she later falls in love with. To prevent the tabloids from ruining her career by outing her relationship with Celia, Hugo decides to marry a singer called Mick Riva in a public wedding in Las Vegas, leading to the end of her relationship with Celia.
After losing the love of her life, Hugo is three husbands down and doesn’t speak with Celia for five years. The novel’s flashbacks and interviews with Grant reveal Hugo’s captivating story, and readers will find the book an engaging page-turner that delves deep into the life of a Hollywood icon.
Part 2 – Fake Marriage
Evelyn arranges a fake marriage with the popular actor Rex North. They agree that Rex can continue to sleep with other women while Evelyn aims for fame. The sham marriage benefits both their careers until Rex impregnates his girlfriend and wants to marry her. Evelyn refuses to end the marriage until the release of her upcoming movie with Rex. She comes up with a plan to accuse Rex of cheating with her gay best friend, movie producer Harry Cameron, which successfully boosts the movie’s success.
Evelyn and Celia, her former friend, reunite and reveal that their marriages were both shams. Celia’s husband, NFL quarterback John Braverman, is also gay, and they have an agreement to support each other. Harry Cameron falls in love with John, and they become a couple, while Evelyn and Celia also become a couple. They go out on double dates and support each other’s fake marriages, which allows them to live a somewhat normal life.
Harry and Evelyn decide to have a baby, and Celia tries to be supportive. They have a daughter named Connor, and everything seems fine until John suddenly dies of a heart attack. Harry starts to drink heavily, and Evelyn works on a movie with a provocative French director named Max Girard.
Part 3 – The Revealation
Evelyn Hugo agrees to do a raunchy sex scene for the provocative French director, Max Girard. She worries that her partner, Celia, might not approve, and seeks her permission. Celia initially tries to be supportive, but later breaks down and leaves when she discovers that Evelyn has already filmed the scene.
Evelyn’s gay best friend, Harry Cameron, encourages her to accept Girard’s marriage proposal, but she soon realizes that she is nothing more than a trophy wife to him. After six years of an unhappy marriage, she reunites with Celia, who reveals that she has emphysema and only has 10 years to live. They decide to move to Spain together to avoid attention.
Harry is in a car crash and is left for dead, but Evelyn convinces the driver to take him to the hospital in exchange for movie roles. They leave Harry’s lover to die at the scene. Evelyn and Celia move to Spain with their daughter, Connor, and Celia’s brother, Robert. Evelyn and Robert get married to hide their true relationship.
They live out the rest of their lives together in Spain, but tragedy strikes when Robert and Connor both pass away. The reason why Evelyn chose Monique is finally revealed when it is discovered that the man they left to die in the car was Monique’s father.