The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid was born in Maryland in 1983. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in media studies before moving to Los Angeles to work as a casting assistant. It was then that she realized her passion for writing, signed with a literary agent, and subsequently published her first novel, Forever, Interrupted in 2013. Since then, Reid has published eight novels, four of which make up what readers refer to as the “famous women quartet”—novels which focus on prominent fictional women and share a handful of recurring characters. Reid lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
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Historical Context of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Reid’s creation of the character of Evelyn Hugo draws inspiration from a few different Old Hollywood figures, in particular Elizabeth Taylor, one of the biggest stars of the 1950s. Taylor was married eight times to seven different men. Another is Rita Hayworth, a 1940s star who, like the fictional Evelyn Hugo, changed her name and her hair color to conceal her Spanish heritage and appear whiter. Reid’s novel also focuses on the complexities of living as a famous LGBTQ+ person in the mid-20th century, a time during which being openly gay could jeopardize a person’s safety and career. The book also references the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, events of which Reid’s characters are at the periphery but eminently aware. The Stonewall riots were a series of protests led by the gay community following a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, LGBTQ+ communities, whom the disease disproportionately affected, suffered stigmatization and became the subject of national hysteria.

Other Books Related to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Reid cites several biographies of Old Hollywood stars as inspiration for the character of Evelyn Hugo. Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen discusses Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift’s friendship (Clift was gay, and the victim of a car accident, much like the novel’s Harry Cameron. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is an exclusive set of tell-all interviews between Gardner and a ghostwriter; The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo echoes the book both in content and structure. Many of Reid’s other novels, including Daisy Jones & The Six and Carrie Soto is Back, focus on similar subjects of famous women with towering reputations and unwieldy ambition. Several bestselling contemporary novels by other authors also share a Hollywood setting, including The Work Wife by Alison B. Hart, which focuses on contemporary Hollywood and the impact of #MeToo allegations. while others share Reid’s historical interest such as City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert follows one woman’s romantic exploits, set against backdrop of the theater scene of 1940s New York.
Key Facts about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • Full Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • When Written: Mid-2010s
  • Where Written: Los Angeles
  • When Published: 2017
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Novel, Historical Fiction
  • Setting: Los Angeles, New York City, and the southern coast of Spain between the 1940s and 2010s
  • Climax: Evelyn reveals to Monique that Harry’s deceased lover was Monique’s father
  • Antagonist: Though several of Evelyn’s husbands treat her cruelly, both physically and emotionally, the novel’s most consistent antagonist is the voracious print media, which inflames and misconstrues details of Evelyn’s life to stoke public opinion.
  • Point of View: First Person

Extra Credit for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Small Screen. In 2022, Netflix announced its plans to create a film adaptation of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Going Viral. Though The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was published in 2017, it hit a new stride of popularity in 2021. When Reid and her publicity team looked for the reason, they found it was because of BookTok—the subsection of the social media app TikTok devoted to books—where many influencers were sharing their excitement for the book’s LGBTQ+ themes.