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|This book was sent to me by Wordsworth Books for review purposes.
No matter how much of life we may assume to understand. Love is one of the most evasive of theories. One minute it’s anatomy is within grasp and the next, you can only wish to understand what it all means.
As with most ‘hyped’ books, I walked into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo blind. One thing I knew for sure was that a majority of people whose reading tastes I trusted, loved it. By now you’ll have learned that my taste is very eclectic. I’ve had people tell me that ‘you’d read anything’ and if I’m being honest, my search for good stories has no prejudice.
In this one, Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR) takes us on a whirlwind journey with a beloved superstar whose life is nothing short of extraordinary on and off the stage. (I should confess that this is my first TJR book, though I have 2 more waiting for me on the shelf).
Evelyn Hugo is a phenomenon. A woman living life on her own terms, bending destiny and her own life trajectory, and unfortunately in some instances, that of others as well. Many may even call her a bully, but never in my encounters in history (even consuming the good old classics with stellar female characters) have I ever come across such a self-assured female protagonist.
Now don’t get me wrong. Even with such certainty imbued in her overall makeup, she has to be, in many ways, the most haunted, vulnerable, protagonist I’ve come across. And, for me at least, therein lies TJR’s magic with this book.
Here’s a woman who would do anything for a love that has very little to do with the book title. Literally anything. Written in a biographical style, we get a ‘nobody’ journalist handpicked to capture the life of one of the greatest stars to have ever lived. In the choosing of the ‘ghost writer’ we immediately have to ask ourselves what this ‘nobody’s’ backstory is. Could she be the actual story.
Filled with many gasp-worthy moments, twist and turns, and a number of incidents that will snatch your heart and break it, and many still that will take your breath away, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a roller coaster love story on a love that defeats the odds. Any odds. Of a society that cages our love and of a life, seemingly lived, on one’s own terms and yet is fraught with regret.
I can’t quite say how TJR managed to make such a strong character soft, except to say, strength is one of those things we nurture when life has forced our soft parts to be solid. Whatever softness is left after being cornered by life is then reserved for the worth. It was spectacular to see who Evelyn gave her softness to, and how she reasoned and wrapped it up as a gift only some could have.
I’ll confess, I often dislike figuring out the twist in a story. I knew this one had to have something major in it because of the ‘nobody’ journalist. I didn’t figure out the twist, I’m afraid, I wasn’t that clever. Yet, somehow, that twist was so disappointing to me. I can’t quite explain it, but I really needed it it have more of a punch. Yes, I didn’t see it coming, but somehow I still felt, upon its revelations, that I could have lived without it…
That said, this was still the most complex, rawest love story I’ve ever read. Evelyn’s character carries the wisdom of a life lived in earnest and this wisdom punctuates her dialogue in such appealing quotes. It’s definitely a story that will challenge your view of life and love.