Book review: Seven things we learn from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Marilyn Monroe

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

The story of Evelyn Hugo – a mix of Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe and perhaps other Hollywood stars as journalist Monique Grant interviews her as she relates the story of her life from abused teenager to wealthy movie actress.

The details of her life seem plausible enough with a wealth of detail of how actors of the era of the 1950s and 1960s in a pre-me-too era had to have sex with male executives in Hollywood in order to get a part in a film. Does it happen today – of course it does – but in those days it was far more prevalent if you accept this story of slum to stardom.So what are the seven lessons we learn from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?

Well here goes:1. Share things with your mum – especially when it comes to gossip about Evelyn Hugo. Monique’s mother says to her: “I did go through a 24hr labour for you. I deserve this.”

2. Dye your hair blonde, lose weight by substituting your evening meal for cabbage soup. This is apparently it. Become as Evelyn said she had become a ‘dumb blonde’, after appearing in Little Women.

3. Marrying seven men are not enough if you are in love with the actress Celia St. James. Just for the record they were Ernie Diaz her get out of Hell’s Kitchen with a ticket to Hollywood; abusive drunk Don Adler; the one day wonder Mick Riva; adulterer Rex North; faithless Max Girard; Celia’s brother Robert who was a cover for her lesbian relationship; and wealthy Robert Jamison.

4 Don’t be sorry for anything. After explaining how her first husband Ernie married someone called Betty who gave him eight children and many grandchildren – and the pay off he got from the studios meant he could buy a house in Mar Vista Evelyn said: “So if we are going by the metric that all’s well that ends well, then I guess it’s safe to say that I’m not sorry.”

5 Pretend. This is not acting. Pretending is about marrying Don Adler to enhance your career because the studio will like it and the fans will like it. As Evelyn said: “I knew it was the best thing to do for my career.”

6 Be in love with the Hollywood sex symbol Celia St. James – and not reveal it to the world in case it damages your career. She lived in an era when being a lesbian was taboo. Lilli Vincenz was the first American lesbian to self identify appearing on the cover of a magazine and on TV chat shows in the 1970s. Evelyn couldn’t – she stayed in the closet until Celia’s passing and then became pro-active in the campaign for LGBTQ rights. All a bit late.

7 Get stuff off your chest before you die with a tell all book to a struggling journalist like Monique who needs the break. After all, you’re a long time dead.

Harry Mottram

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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