Get ready to take a thrilling journey through the dazzling and tumultuous life of Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo, as she shares her scandalous secrets with an unlikely confidante.
In this TJR masterpiece, you will meet a fascinating character who has captured the hearts and imaginations of readers worldwide.
From her humble beginnings in poverty to her rise as a movie star, Evelyn’s energy is as vivid and captivating as her life story. Married seven times, with a love life that’s the stuff of tabloids, Evelyn has kept a secret that will change everything about her true identity and the life choices she’s made.
Through her interview with an unknown reporter, Monique Grant, you will get to know the real Hollywood icon and the heart-wrenching experiences that have made her into who she is today.
In this discussion guide, we’ll have a look at some book club questions for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and why it’s a must-read for anyone looking for a thrilling and captivating novel that explores the complexities of love, identity, and the price of fame.
And in case you want to read what the book is about and know my opinion, I have a detailed blog post here – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review.
The post might contain affiliate links. For more information, read our disclosure. Also, these questions contain spoilers.
Book Club Questions For The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo For Discussion
- The novel is highly critical of the way that Hollywood treats women as commodities, with them valued only for their looks and their ability to appeal to a male audience. Evelyn’s rise to fame is inextricably tied to her physical appearance, and she is forced to conform to a narrow standard of beauty in order to succeed. Her relationships with powerful men in the industry also highlight how women are often seen as accessories or status symbols rather than fully realized human beings.
A similar thing happened with Marilyn Monroe. What’s your take on these situations where women are often used as eye candies in films and nothing else?
- Harry’s relationship with Evelyn and Conner demonstrates the importance of chosen family by showing that a family does not have to be defined by traditional roles and structures. Harry and Evelyn’s relationship is not defined by romance but rather a deep friendship and shared love for their daughter Conner. They form a unique family unit that is not defined by societal expectations but rather by their love and loyalty to each other.
Let’s discuss three things that you loved about Harry.
- Evelyn Hugo’s transformation from a poor impoverished girl from Hell’s Kitchen to a glamorous Hollywood icon is an example of how people reconstruct themselves in order to fit the bill. She alters her name, appearance, and accent to fit into the dominant culture, sacrificing her authentic self in the process. Additionally, her relationships with both men and women complicate her sense of identity, as she struggles to balance her desire for love and connection with her need for privacy and self-protection.
At the end of the day, don’t you think Evelyn’s life was built on nothing but fabrication? Did you find any kind of similarities with Stella’s character from The Vanishing Half?
- Evelyn’s early marriages, particularly to Don Adler, are characterized by abusive power imbalances, with Don using his physical strength and social status to control Evelyn. Later in life, Evelyn uses her own power as a successful actress to manipulate the media and protect her personal life. Her relationships with Celia, Mick, and Max are also marked by power struggles as each partner tries to gain the upper hand in their respective relationships.
Do you think this kind of power imbalance is common in toxic relationships where one tries to gain control over another?
- Evelyn’s willingness to reveal the truth to Monique suggests a desire for authenticity and a rejection of the lies and half-truths that have defined her public image for so long. Monique’s own struggles with truth and self-representation also mirror this theme, as she grapples with the tension between her own desires of being a successful journalist while balancing the expectation of his near and dear ones.
Referring to the above context, do you think no matter how fake we are, we eventually yearn for that one person with whom we can share all our truths?
- Monique’s recent separation from her husband and her struggle to find her footing as a journalist make her vulnerable and uncertain. Her initial skepticism about Evelyn’s motivations and the veracity of her story is overcome by her fascination with Evelyn’s charisma and confidence. As she becomes more involved in the project, Monique gains self-confidence and seeks recognition from her boss.
However, at the end, did you expect Evelyn to make such a revelation that might have shattered Monique to the core? If you were in place of Monique, what would you have done in such a case?
- Monique and Evelyn’s identities intersect in their experiences of marginalization and their struggle to reconcile conflicting aspects of their identities. Monique, as a biracial woman, feels a disconnect from her black identity and seeks representation and reflection. Similarly, Evelyn is forced to hide her Cuban heritage and true identity as a clever, strong-willed woman in order to be accepted in society.
What’s your take on the way Taylor Jenkins Reid has successfully led the intersection and diversification of both the characters?
- Evelyn repeatedly puts Celia’s feelings aside when making choices that negatively affect them both (e.g. sleeping with Mick), and she refuses to come forward about Don’s abuse because it might ruin her career. This suggests that fame demands sacrifices from those who seek it and that maintaining one’s image can come at the expense of personal relationships. However, at the end of her life, all Evelyn craved was some love. True love, to be specific.
Based on the above scenario, do you think ambitious people often put material success over anything else and repent later in life?
- The novel explores the complexities of morality and truth through Evelyn’s character. As a former Hollywood starlet, Evelyn is no stranger to deception and manipulation, and her decision to reveal the truth about her life is a difficult one. The novel does not necessarily portray Evelyn as “good” or “bad” but rather as a complex individual who is both flawed and sympathetic.
Do you agree?
- Celia’s character challenges the traditional Hollywood archetype of the “girl-next-door” by embodying a different kind of beauty that is just as powerful. While she has the typical physical features of Hollywood beauty, her accessibility, and vulnerability set her apart from other actresses who are more guarded and calculating. This is exemplified by her desire to come out of the closet at a time when it was socially unacceptable to do so.
I personally felt that Celia as a person was way ahead of her time. Did you feel the same?
- The novel depicts the morally corrupting and dehumanizing effects of fame through the experiences of the protagonist, Evelyn Hugo. She learns that fame demands a sacrifice of her true self, her relationships and her values. Evelyn is forced to make choices that compromise her safety and happiness, often resulting in immoral behavior. The cost of fame is emphasized through Evelyn’s initial decision to trade her virginity for a “ride to Hollywood” and her subsequent choices to maintain her fame.
Don’t you think fame can often act as a catalyst for our insecurities? If yes, how?
- The city of Hollywood symbolizes the American Dream, where people from all over the world come with the hope of achieving their ambitions. To Evelyn and many others, it represents a haven that saves them from poverty, offering temporary contentment. However, as Evelyn’s relationship with Hollywood becomes more complex, she realizes the emptiness of its promises.
Do you think Taylor Jenkins Reid has purposefully used Hollywood to portray this imbalance between success and emotional fulfillment in the novel?
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