Welcome back to the table readers! This week I’ll be giving you all a review for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid paired with a recipe for a traditional Cuban soup – Caldo Gallego. At just 250 calories per cup this is a hearty, healthy and cozy AF meal that only takes one pot – so clean up and prep is a breeze!
My favorite ladies over at Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee (AKA the Traveling Sisters) did a group review for this book as well. It seems like everyone is loving it! For more reviews and thoughts go check out their blog!
I’ll let you know up front that this book has ruined me heart and soul. It spoke to me on such an emotional and visceral level its difficult for me to put into words. I’m a cheese-ball and a crier and this book was like a throat punch to the feels. This is not a story about wanting to be loved but to be seen and understood. It made me appreciate my husband, my friends and my family all the more. It made me take stock in how truly blessed I am that despite all my weird quirks and my failures these people really do see me and they love me anyway.
So even before the review, I just wanted to say to take a moment today to tell those you love how much they mean to you. Life isn’t about being beautiful, or wanted, or admired, it’s about the people you’re willing to work for and the one’s willing to work for you.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My life has been broken up into two segments: before Evelyn and after.
Where do I even start with this? If all of my enthusiasm and relentless energy could be compressed into a grenade I would pull the pin out for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and burst into a show of sparkles and champagne bubbles. I don’t even know how to concisely put into words how much this book did the damn thing for me.
So do yourself a favor and learn how to grab life by the balls, dear. Don’t be so tied up in trying to do the right thing when the smart thing is so painfully clear.
Evelyn Hugo. She’s a magnetic, luscious, complicated and layered character beyond all reason. How Reid was able to fit such a huge personality into only 386 pages is honestly beyond me. I didn’t just want to read about Evelyn, I wanted to know her. I want to bask in her greatness, revel in her strengths and ponder her weaknesses and lessons with her.
It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.
Evelyn Hugo. She spent her entire life working tirelessly and mercilessly to fight her way to the top of the food chain during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She’s nearing the end of her life and she’s finally ready to tell all about her triumphs and failures and she chooses a down-on-her-luck, little-known, surprise-to-everyone writer named Monique Grant to tell that story.
All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be truly mine. But you’ve never been mine. Not really. I’ve always had to settle for one piece of you. While the world gets the other half. I don’t blame you. It doesn’t make me stop loving you. But I can’t do it. I can’t do it, Evelyn. I can’t live with my heart half-broken all the time.
EVELYN FREAKIN’ HUGO. Her story resonated with me and spoke lessons to me I didn’t even realize I needed. Evelyn simply wants what most of us do, she wants to be seen. It is an ache within in her that transcends the words on the page and nestles itself into the heart of the reader.
While this is told from Monique’s POV, Evelyn is the one weaving the tale. When Monique learns that Evelyn is ready to give a tell-all interview to her and her alone we see many parallels between these two women. Monique has her own lessons to learn, her own battles to fight and Evelyn unknowingly turns into a guiding light in Monique’s life.
Interspersed with the narrative are tabloid articles that describe what the public sees as the going-ons in Evelyns up and coming career back in her hay-day. I really enjoyed this as I think it highlighted societies obsession with celebrity. It’s easy to forget that despite the wealth and fortune – these are real people, with real struggles.
Why, until this moment, did I not realize that the issue is my own confidence? That the root of most of my problems is that I need to be secure enough in who I am to tell anyone who doesn’t like to to go fuck themselves? Why have I spent so long settling for less when I know damn well the world expects more?
It was truly effortless to love Evelyn and this cast of characters. At it’s heart this is a love story, a tale of redemption and a saga of loss and heartbreak. It tackles an insane amount of timely topics with a deft and delicate hand. Reid has truly outdone herself. This book takes homophobia, racism, sexism, trauma, abuse and a whole lot more and highlights and honors the struggles of those experiencing these ugly truths of our society.
This book left my heart breaking and mending at the same moment, my breath was unceasingly caught in my throat with the turn of each page. I am awestruck by Reids story telling and her ability to craft such a layered, complex narrative while delivering stunning prose and lessons woven so seamlessly that you don’t even realizing you’re learning about yourself until after it’s done.
This book. Who am I now? What do I do with my life in this new stage of After Evelyn. This is easily the newest member of my favorites shelf and my new go-to recommendation for other readers. This book isn’t hyped, it’s properly praised for the literary masterpiece it is. I’m now facing one of the worst book hangovers of my life because I’m not ready to say goodbye to Evelyn and her story. Reid crafted Evelyn’s character in a way that those around her could never get enough and she did so in such a spectacularly efficient way that readers wont be able to either.
Evelyn always leaves you hoping you’ll get just a little bit more. And she always denies you.
Suggested for: anyone capable of reading or absorbing literary content through any medium.
Long story short:
Now, I GUESS I’ll stop fan girling over this book even though I could probably write a PhD thesis on how freakin’ amazing it was. On to the recipe!
- Servings: 4-6 *I made this for 3 guys and myself and we still had a bit left over
- Prep Time: 1 minute? – chop while you cook, only prep time is cutting the bacon!
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Pans Required: 1 – I used an enameled Dutch Oven (#CastIronForever) but any soup pot will do!
- ¼ lb thickly sliced pancetta or *my personal recommendation* slab bacon (cut into ½ inch pieces)
- ¼ lb Spanish chorizo (casings removed, and sliced into ¼ inch pieces)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium red potatoes, diced
- 1 large turnip (peeled and diced)
- 1 14 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ lb turnip greens, stemmed and chopped
- 2-3 cups chicken broth (enough to cover turnip and potatoes)
Easy edits to make, per preference
- You don’t need to use turnip greens – any dark leafy green will work (like kale, or spinach)
- You can use any potato you prefer – I prefer red because they don’t need to be peeled. Remember if you’re using a baking potato you will need to peel the skin off before dicing!
- You can use thick cut bacon instead of slab bacon and that would work just fine!
- I know, you may be thinking to yourself: uhhh turnips and turnip greens? Do I even like that? Well let me tell you friends, my thoughts exactly! However, they are delicious! Turnip greens are much like kale or spinach but they have a saltier bite to them. Turnips are very similar to potatoes – in the end you could probably replace it with potatoes but that would ruin the authenticity of the dish (which is why I did not).
- In the large pot, cook the pancetta or bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered (7-10 minutes)
- While the bacon is cooking, dice the potato, turnip and onion. Add them to the pot along with enough chicken broth (or water) to cover and simmer for about 20 minutes (until the turnip and potato are soft but not falling apart)
- Add the beans, chorizo and greens and continue to cook until the greens are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Quote: I was eleven when she died of pneumonia. Obviously I don’t have a lot of memories of her, but I do remember that she smelled like cheap vanilla, and she made the most amazing caldo gallego. She never called me Evelyn, only mija, which made me feel really special, like I was hers and she was mine.
Music Mood: Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray
There you have it folks! A traditional Cuban soup! What are your favorite soups? Do you have any international dishes you enjoy in your home? Drop me a note and let me know!