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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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First edition
AuthorTaylor Jenkins Reid
GenreHistorical fiction
PublisherAtria Books
Publication date
June 13, 2017
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback), audiobook, e-book

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a historical drama novel by American novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid, and published by Atria Books in 2017. It tells the story of the fictional Old Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, who, at age 79, gives a final interview to unknown journalist, Monique Grant.

The novel was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2017.[1][2][3]

Book structure


The book is split into seven parts that are all named after Hugo's husbands in order to chronicle her life during the marriages and affairs she experiences; in addition, the titles feature adjectives to emphasize Hugo's feelings and opinions towards them. For instance, "Brilliant, kindhearted, tortured, Harry Cameron" and "Goddamn Don Adler."



Evelyn Hugo, a reclusive former Hollywood star, announces the auction of her collection of famous gowns to raise money for a breast cancer charity in honor of her late daughter. She specifically requests magazine reporter Monique Grant to interview her about the auction. Monique, who has no personal connection to her, is confused as to why Evelyn insists she be the one to conduct the interview. When the two meet, Evelyn reveals that she is not interested in giving an interview to Monique's magazine, but instead wants Monique to write her biography. When pressed for an explanation as to why, Evelyn only tells her that she found Monique through an article that she had written about assisted suicide, and otherwise promises that she will answer all of Monique's questions once she is done recounting her story. Monique accepts the offer, and Evelyn begins sharing the events of her life.

Poor Ernie Diaz

Evelyn meets her first husband, Ernie Diaz, at age fourteen. She then marries him in order to reach Hollywood and escape her abusive father in Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, New York City. She is noticed by Harry Cameron, a young Sunset Studios producer, and the two become close friends. Evelyn seduces a Sunset executive in order to advance her career and divorces Ernie when the studio sets her up with popular actors for publicity.

Goddamn Don Adler

Evelyn falls in love with and marries actor Don Adler, whom she believes to be the first true love of her life. Shortly after they marry, Don begins physically abusing her.

In an adaptation of Little Women, Evelyn, now twenty-one, stars opposite other actress, Celia St. James. Evelyn is initially jealous of Celia's talent, but the two quickly form a friendship. At a party, another actress, Ruby, tells Evelyn that Celia is a lesbian. Evelyn privately confronts Celia to ask if this is true, and the two share a passionate kiss. Evelyn discovers that Don has been unfaithful to her, at which point he divorces her and sabotages her career by getting studio executives to blacklist her.

Gullible Mick Riva

Evelyn and Celia become lovers, unbeknownst to the public. To revive her career, Evelyn goes to Paris and stars in a racy film by French director Max Girard. While attending a concert held by singer, Mick Riva, Evelyn unthinkingly holds Celia's hand for a moment; a concert-goer see this and rumors begin to spread in tabloids about Evelyn and Celia's relationship. To distract the press, Evelyn goes to Las Vegas with Mick and convinces him that she will not have sex outside of marriage, at which point they get married. The marriage is annulled the next day, but weeks later Evelyn discovers that she is pregnant from the encounter. She has an abortion in Tijuana, but Celia feels betrayed that Evelyn slept with Mick and leaves her. The two do not speak to each other for five years.

Clever Rex North

After starring in an adaptation of Anna Karenina, Evelyn marries her co-star, Rex North, to generate publicity. They stay married for a few years, but after Rex impregnates his girlfriend, Joy, Evelyn spins a story that she and Harry Cameron were having an affair. In reality, Harry is secretly dating football quarterback, John Braverman, who is married to Celia.

Brilliant, Kindhearted, Tortured Harry Cameron

Evelyn and Celia reunite and reconcile. Evelyn marries Harry, and they move to Manhattan and live closely with Celia and John, posing as two heterosexual couples. During the Stonewall Riots, the four of them agree to start secretly funding LGBT pioneers since they are unable to publicly take part. After several idyllic years, Harry suggests that he and Evelyn have a child, and Evelyn agrees. With Celia's blessing, they have a daughter named Connor.

In her late thirties, Evelyn stars in another Max Girard movie, in which she agrees to an explicit sex scene opposite Don Adler. Realizing that she should have asked Celia for her blessing to film such a scene with her ex-husband, Evelyn confesses after the fact, at which point Celia leaves her again. John Braverman then dies of a heart attack, and a heartbroken Harry becomes an alcoholic.

Disappointing Max Girard

Max Girard pursues Evelyn and she agrees to marry him, but she quickly discovers that he does not truly love her as a person, but only as the sex symbol she had become. She stays married to him for six years before reuniting with Celia. She learns that Celia has emphysema and fewer than ten years to live. Celia suggests that Evelyn marries her younger brother, Robert, so that she can manage Celia's estate once she dies. Together, they prepare to move to Spain with Connor and Harry to live out Celia's final years in relative obscurity and peace.

Before leaving, Evelyn discovers the scene of a car accident outside Harry's home. Inside the car she finds a severely wounded Harry as well as an unknown dead passenger. To protect Harry from being convicted of drunk driving, Evelyn moves the passenger into the driver's seat. Harry dies at the hospital, leaving Evelyn and Connor to grieve.

Agreeable Robert Jamison

Evelyn, Celia, and Connor move to Spain along with Celia's brother Robert, whom Evelyn marries. Ten years later, Celia dies at age sixty-one, and Robert dies a few years after. At thirty-nine, Connor is diagnosed with breast cancer and dies eighteen months later. It is at this point that Evelyn concludes recounting the past to Monique and reveals to her that the man in the car with Harry was Monique's deceased father, James Grant. By staging the scene as she had, Evelyn allowed Monique and her mother to believe that James had died driving drunk. Evelyn gives Monique a letter written from James to Harry, in which he explains his love for him but tells him he cannot move to Spain with him nor marry Celia, as his wife and Monique are his family.

Though initially furious, Monique demands to know when she can publish the book. Evelyn tells her that she, too, has breast cancer, and intends for the book to be published after she dies. Monique parts ways with Evelyn, but soon realizes that Evelyn has revealed all of this because she intends to end her life herself. She considers calling the authorities, but decides that it should be Evelyn's choice if she wants to die. Evelyn is later found dead, and her death is reported as an accidental overdose.

Monique eventually publishes the introduction for her biography about Evelyn, finally disclosing that the true love of Evelyn's life was none of her seven husbands, but rather her co-star and fellow actress, Celia St. James.



Reid released the book cover and an excerpt of the book in Entertainment Weekly on December 6, 2016.[4]

According to Reid, Evelyn is loosely based in part on actresses Elizabeth Taylor, who was married eight times to seven different men, and Ava Gardner, who revealed the secrets of her life to a journalist, who published them in Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations. Reid has also said Rita Hayworth was an influence on Evelyn. Hayworth, whose father was a Spaniard, had a very similar start to Evelyn's and multiple relationships throughout her career. Other influences included Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, an autobiography by Tab Hunter that describes what life was like for the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood at the time, and Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen.[5][6]



The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was released in hardcover on June 1, 2017, by Atria Publishing Group. By June 13, the novel was released in paperback, Audible audio, and Kindle edition. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was also translated for print into Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Serbian, Greek, Turkish, Lithuanian, Swedish, Croatian, Czech, French, Slovak, Hungarian, German, Dutch, Italian, Ukrainian, Icelandic , Hebrew, Vietnamese and Chinese.[7]



Cancelled television adaptation


In 2019, Freeform and Fox 21 Television Studios picked up the rights for development. Jennifer Beals and Ilene Chaiken, who worked on The L Word, were to produce the show.[8] Reid was to work on the show as a screenwriter. In June 2021, Reid confirmed in an interview that the rights were no longer owned by Freeform and would be produced on another platform. She said she felt "really good with the direction that it's going in".[9]

Film adaptation


On March 24, 2022, it was announced that Netflix will be adapting the novel into a feature film with Liz Tigelaar[10] writing and Margaret Chernin executive producing.[11][12] The film will be directed by Leslye Headland.[13]



The novel received positive reviews. The Globe and Mail called it "a cinematic tale with hardscrabble roots, staggering highs and sickening lows."[14] The novel was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction of 2017,[1][2][3] and a finalist for Book of the Month's Book of the Year award in 2017.[15]


  1. ^ a b "BEST HISTORICAL FICTION". Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Petski, Denise (September 19, 2019). "'The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo' Adaptation In Works At Freeform; Ilene Chaiken & Jennifer Beals To EP".
  3. ^ a b "Jennifer Beals, Ilene Chaiken Adapting 'Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' for Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. 19 September 2019.
  4. ^ Biedenharn, I., & Biedenharn, I. (n.d.). See the Cover for Taylor Jenkins Reid's 'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo'. Retrieved April 18, 2020, from https://ew.com/article/2016/12/06/taylor-jenkins-reid-seven-husbands-evelyn-hugo-cover/
  5. ^ Granett, Brandi Megan Granett (2017-05-22). "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Q & A with Taylor Jenkins Reid". HuffPost. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  6. ^ Block, Tara (13 June 2017). "Taylor Jenkins Reid on the Scandalous True Stories That Inspired Her Latest Novel". POPSUGAR Love & Sex. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  7. ^ Editions of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/46885151-the-seven-husbands-of-evelyn-hugo?page=1
  8. ^ "'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' is Coming to Freeform | Bookstr". bookstr.com. 2019-09-26. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  9. ^ @FilmUpdates (June 2, 2021). "'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' author Taylor Jenkins Reid confirms that the adaptation is no longer happening at Freeform but on another platform: "I feel really good with the direction that it's going in."" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2022-03-24). "Netflix Sets Liz Tigelaar To Adapt New York Times Bestseller 'The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo' Into Feature Film". Deadline. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  11. ^ Gilmore, Kelly (March 24, 2022). "Netflix Is Turning The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo Into a Movie". E! News.
  12. ^ Elizabeth, De (March 24, 2022). "'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' to Get Glam Film Adaptation". Netflix Tudum.
  13. ^ Lopez, Kirsten (June 29, 2023). "Netflix's 'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo' Film Nabs Director Leslye Headland". TheWrap. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  14. ^ Stapley, Melissa. "Review: Roz Nay's Our Little Secret, Julia Fierro's The Gypsy Moth Summer and Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo". Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  15. ^ "The Best Books of the Year | Book of the Month". www.bookofthemonth.com. Retrieved 2020-02-12.