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Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - A Spellbinding Masterclass in Character Study



Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - A Spellbinding Masterclass in Character Study

This Sumptuous Novel Exploring Ill-Fated Love and Hollywood Ambition is an Emotional Tour de Force


I have emerged utterly spellbound from the kaleidoscopic, time-transcending rapture that is Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This isn't merely fiction - it's a fully immersive exploration into the psyche of a complicated, ruthlessly ambitious Hollywood legend whose life's deepest loves and ugliest deceptions simultaneously inspire and horrify. I haven't felt so entirely consumed by a character's soul since first encountering Gatsby's self-mythologizing grandeur. Every last lush, seasoned line of Evelyn Hugo's sordid confessional burrowed into my heart like shards of broken mirror, leaving me in awe of a scribe operating at the upper echelons of her powers.


From its deceptively simple premise asking why an icon would open her scintillating Pandora's Box to an unknown writer, Reid weaves a multigenerational saga of staggering ambition and stinging emotional disarmament. The central narrative unfolds as a sort of nesting doll, each revelation from Evelyn's scandalous pasts birthing even deeper layers of shocking indiscretions, formidable willpower, and rampant sexuality that defied and shaped an entire era's societal conventions. Just when you think you've wrapped your head around the cascading bread crumb trails of old Hollywood depravity scattered along her broken road, Reid pulls another ruinous lever, leaving you gasping over the audacity of her pen.


Much of this root-shocking sorcery hinges on Reid's profoundly empathetic characterizations anchoring every lush, boozy anecdote recounted from Evelyn's bittersweet pasts and hard-won triumphs. With laser focus, she peels back the caustic layers of persona and appearances obscuring our doomed heroine's molten core of vulnerability, abject loneliness, and humanity. The Evelyn Hugo who begins this fateful tell-all as a glowering, notoriously vindictive showbiz relic spitting barbed wire maxims about ruthlessly seizing power at all costs soon melts away, replaced by a heartbreakingly complex soul whose meteoric craving for fame was always merely a misdirected vehicle toward securing life's simpler treasures of unconditional love and acceptance.


As shot after shot of revelatory insight detonates our deepening understandings of Evelyn's formation, Reid elevates her beyond mere icon into a sacrificial lamb at the sordid altar of Hollywood's patriarchal abasements. We witness the wrenching contortions she undertook to overcome abject poverty and find sanctuary from predatory male power structures. Disturbingly, it's in the wreckage of Evelyn's most reprehensible misdeeds that we achieve clarifying windows into the deep-seated abandonment fueling her desperate need to control life's narrative at any karmic cost.


While grounded in the brutally honest surfaces of an irresistibly scandalous tell-all from beyond the Hollywood glitz, it's in these soul-shattering moments Reid's prose assumes a poetic transcendence. From documenting the starvation diet tortures young women suffered in onscreen ingenues to the damning chastities imposed upon boundless libidos, every sickening relic of Evelyn's climb toward feminist empowerment inspires both horror and profound admiration for her fortitude in the face of toxic masculinity's most egregious offramps.


And yet as indefatigable as Reid renders her mercurial protagonist, what eternally etches "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" onto the sacred icons of modern literature is how the author deftly broadens Evelyn's journey toward tragically beautiful universality. Yes, she charts the roadmap of one woman's crusade to make her wildest Hollywood dreams reality at any moral compromise required. But just as powerfully, Reid excavates the eternally relatable human frailties haunting each risqué chapter turn - the pangs of unrequited desire, the lure of outsized ambition to escape trauma, the ripple-fracturing ramifications of deceit on even the most sacred life covenants.


Whether rendering Evelyn's shattering grief over an illicit love affair's catastrophic denouement or her alternating desperation/contempt toward motherhood's hand-tying encumbrances, Reid infuses each interior psyche exploratory with a refreshing candor rarely witnessed in modern character studies. We don't just observe Evelyn's salacious surfaces, we become her in bone-rattling intimacy - understanding why every daring calculation and dice roll with destiny mattered so profoundly in the eternity of a single human life. So by the time Evelyn's jaw-dropping final secrets detonate with the force of plutonium, the grand scales balancing her sins against society's crueler crimes feel more poetically apt than tragically outre.


Beyond Evelyn's transfixing, Marat/Sade-grade psychosexual awakening into a figure of immense pathos and awe, Reid's stunning construction of dual storylines braiding past/present into an intricately contoured mobius is worthy of outrageous admiration. So much crucial heavy lifting pivots upon her bold choice to shepherd us through the serpentine labyrinths of Evelyn's tempestuous existence through the perspective of an outsider, the earnest if mildly frustrating Monique Grant - a put-upon writer whose own sense of disillusionment with professional apathy and societal abandonment makes her the ideal window into Evelyn's no-holds-barred myth-shattering.


On the surface, Monique's prominence as the passive receiver of Evelyn's outrageous biography feels like a needlessly flat protagonist backdoor into richer dramatic realms. Yet as Reid's narrative tapestries deepen, we realize Monique was always one of us - an everywoman desperate for meaning and purpose amid postmodern ennui. By having her become the increasingly embroiled surrogate pressed to empathize with Evelyn's sundry grievances against the world's masculine oppressors, Reid turns her into both witness and apotheosis of Evelyn's hard-won self-empowerment. Just as Monique herself is awakened to shed her bitter weathered exteriors and reclaim vitality's passion, so too do we rapt readers find our own souls shaken awake by Evelyn Hugo's spirit reclaiming same.


I could rattle on endlessly excavating the hefty sociocultural resonances and masterful characterological pivots embedded within Reid's outrageous, structurally audacious gem. How Monique's own relationship fractures become the rotting window panes through which we glimpse Evelyn's corrosive contempt for monogamy and maternal obligations. How Evelyn's toxic romance with her greatest amour, the celestial Celia St. James, explodes finales notions of "the love that dare not speak its name" being mere squeamishness into incendiary, millennium-defining revelations on what it means to love authentically without apology - emotional stakes and personal liberations too profound for any zeitgeist to withstand.


But to unpack every jewel-encrusted labyrinth of "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" into outright syllabi would be to reduce its transcendent magic down to mere scholastically staid sums. For what Reid has accomplished here peels back flesh to expose the pulsing human essence of why stories themselves endure: To witness lives lived out loud in the fullness of their intricate dimensionality, no matter how salacious or aspirational or reprehensible or heartbreakingly relatable they may seem along the sensory-detonating way.


We don't just meet Evelyn Hugo by the final thunderclap, we suffer alongside her deprivations and cringe behind our hands during her amorality's direst tolls. We understand at a marrow-deep level why she calcified in response to the world's hostilities, and thrill at her hardscrabble resourcefulness to obliterate every indignity before her like the true force of nature she always embodied. And when Reid masterfully reunites us with ghosts of pasts and poignant harbingers of futures simultaneously, the furious circle of life Evelyn Hugo waged her many wars to grasp finally, perfectly coalesces before our stunned eyes.


However, the true rapture coursing through "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" remains its unshakable clarion call to embrace our chaotic multitudes without shame - to seize control of our messy, irrational, ugly/beautiful pathways toward self-actualization rather than demurring from destiny's most daunting gauntlets. Reid has crafted nothing less than a primal scream manifesto for discovering our unadulterated souls before sleepwalking through life's weightier meaning. And she's reified those themes into the lushest, most delectably human of novels populated by figures transcending dusty iconographies into modern patron saints of self-determination.


So to experience this thunderclap of a novel in its full dimension-shattering immersiveness is to become baptized by Evelyn Hugo's own furious refusal to let hers or anyone else's stories constrict into socially digestible compartments. Because whether scandalizing through sapphic passion, diamond-shattering emotional turmoil, or righteous feminist fury toward the patriarchal establishment, all of us possess Evelyn-eque hungers for shattering our personal status quo and erupting into the icons we're destined to embody.


Long after the final chapters cease, the chords of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo reverberate through our spirits, daring us to courageously embrace our own weaknesses and triumphs, trysts and bad romances,rapturous breakthroughs and despondencies of grief. We're all living lives worthy of becoming the party's whispered legend. And thanks to Reid's supernova of a novel, we're all catalyzed toward seizing our eternal moments with the same couldn't-give-a-damn defiance as the realm-smashing magnificence of Evelyn Hugo. We've been reborn as liberated free radicals, the ashes of self-repression incinerated, the mythologies of who we are and who we'll fearlessly become ignited into the cosmos.


So if you're seeking inspiration, solace, a heartstopping immersion into the secret interiorities of an icon - run, don't walk to experience Taylor Jenkins Reid's "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo." This is elevated storytelling, period, and character study as high art form. You will be wrecked and electrified, seduced and slapped awake to hitherto unknowable understandings of the self-determination we all possess if we'd only dare channel our inner Evelyn Hugo. We're all formidable icons-in-waiting with unforgettable stories yet to be written. So meet Evelyn's feverish lifeforce, embrace her sacred rage toward self-actualization at all cosmic costs, and erupt into the vividness you were born to embody. This truly is the stuff of miracles.


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