When I look for books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I look for books set in Old Hollywood. There is something about stories set in the back lots of Hollywood that spark such imagination.
Old Hollywood books are filled with the glitz, glamour, and mystery that seems to elude Hollywood nowadays. No social media, no insane costumes, just elegance, and luxury.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that I was enthralled by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Evelyn Hugo is the embodiment of luxurious, Old Hollywood style with unexpected twists and turns sprinkled throughout.
While Evelyn Hugo may be our favorite of the Old Hollywood books on this list, we think you will enjoy the books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo below.
*This Old Hollywood books post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
A tell-all about a fictional Elizabeth Taylor-
Evelyn Hugo has asked an unknown reporter, Monique Grant, to write her life story in a no-holds-barred book. There is a bit of mystery around why Monique was chosen and Evelyn certainly has her fair share of hardships as she claws her way to the top.
The drama and suffering add dimension to the story that makes it so much more than fluff, though the inner workings of Hollywood were fun to read too. The story seems so candid that I honestly forgot that Evelyn Hugo was not a real celebrity.
Taylor Jenkins Reid slays with this story finding the perfect balance of glamour and grit. This was an easy pick for a list of the best romance novels of all time and might seem like an unusual pick for books like A Man Called Ove but, both Ove and Evelyn are seeking to change their lives and in doing so, change for the better. This is one of the older book for book clubs on the list and we have never found someone who didn’t like it.
Historical Fiction Books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
May 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Upon her death, White silver screen star, Kitty Karr, leaves her entire estate to three young Black women. It results in a lot of questions, which Elise St. John, one of the recipients intends to find the answers to.
As Elise digs into Kitty’s past, she uncovers truths that could unravel Kitty’s legacy, Elise’s career, and the entire Sr. John family.
I loved this story about Kitty’s past. It starts with how she had to leave her family behind to pass as white, covers her career, and explores the choices she made to keep her secret. It was both thought-provoking and entertaining, making it a perfect pick for ultimate beach reads and also for book clubs.
When it comes to books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, this would be a natural story to gravitate toward. I found the story to be focused too much on Marlene’s exploits as a bi-sexual woman. Yes, that’s groundbreaking – but it’s not all that defined her.
Which is why she fell flat as a character. I wanted more of her war-time efforts, more of her Hollywood life, more of her relationship with her daughter – just more substance in general. The writing and research were impeccable, as usual, it just didn’t live up to what I thought it could be.
The fictionalized book about Loretta Young’s life was captivating. To me, the best kind of historical fiction is about people that really lived.
If you are like me, you might not have known much about Loretta Young’s life, but my parents knew and loved her. I could see this book as being a perfect story for an intergenerational book club, especially if your fellow readers love Old Hollywood books.
I absolutely adored this royal read about Grace Kelly and had trouble putting it down. The storyline is split between Grace’s rise to Hollywood stardom and her future as a settled princess. The writing was so captivating that I found myself sneaking pages on my kindle all over town.
Kerri Maher brought Grace Kelly to life in this biographical fiction book about her life. I had no idea about her home life struggles, her many romances, or the state of her marriage to Rainer.
Historical Fiction Old Hollywood Books
I found myself swept into Maria’s life as a producer in Hollywood during WWII. Having escaped from Italy after her father’s arrest, she is well on her way into carving a new life for herself.
Her new life includes her lover, a Chinese-American actor struggling with being forced to portray the enemy in films, a crazy boss hellbent on competing with the big studios, and a tepid relationship with her mother – who she’s never really understood.
Soon, a photographer from her past enters her life, the studio is in peril, and her life is messy and complicated. I found myself rooting for Maria and her friends, even if ultimately their best lives had them on different paths.
This one is going on our list of books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for sure.
What a ride!!! I was expecting a light-hearted story about the glamorous world of 1950s Hollywood with Cary Grant, Ginger and Fred, Rock Hudson, and the like. I got them, but this old Hollywood book had meat on its bones. Roxanne is a granddaughter of a movie studio head but she decides to strike out on her own as a Hollywood agent. Upset with her grandfather’s callous treatment of his loyal writers with former communist ties, she begins representing blacklisted writers under pseudonyms.
As if this plotline wasn’t compelling enough, she then begins a deep, meaningful romance with a young black journalist covering the emerging civil rights movement. The author brought to light so many issues of the time in such a thoughtful way.
I had never considered how the shifting politics of the time would affect the film industry. The glamour of Hollywood was present and the book was overflowing with old movie references, but it was the love and personal growth at the heart of this story that I found most compelling. This story made our best books of 2019 list.
A cute, engrossing story about 3 friends who set out to conquer Hollywood during its golden era. Their tale of homophobia, racism, and sexism was balanced by the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.
This was definitely a gritty tale that looked at Hollywood’s underbelly with a frankness that took away some of the sparkle of the scene.
Non-Fiction Old Hollywood Books
This nonfiction old Hollywood book sheds light on the talent of Disney’s pioneering female animators and the struggles they faced in a male-dominated field. I loved learning about these incredible women – like Mary Blair who created the art for the “It’s a Small World” ride.
I was appalled by the disparate treatment female in the animation field received, but I was also impressed by their gumption. The author does a tremendous job of showing their struggles but also how these women shaped animation as we know it. If you are looking for non-fiction books like Lessons in Chemistry, this is a fantastic pick.
I was heartened to see just how far they have come. The book ends with Frozen and you could clearly see the studio’s growth. This is an amazing, non-fiction book about art.
I tackled this memoir back in 2020. Dick Van Dyke is an American icon that I’ve loved since Mary Poppins. I knew i had to read this non-fiction Old Hollywood book.
Dick Van Dyke’s narration of his own memoir brought it to life. I had no idea about so many of the darker parts of his life, including his struggle with alcohol. He’s such a mainstay in the glamourous age of Hollywood and his story is inspiring.
Old Hollywood Books Set on Location
I adored this second-chance love story that wasn’t too girly. There was intrigue and insight into Hollywood today verse 60 years ago. It’s actually about a secret love affair revolving around the movie Cleopatra and the small, seaside hotel at the center of the story.
I guessed the big reveal pretty early on, but it was still a wonderful book set in Italy about how love had, lost, and then found again can impact our lives. It’s one of my favorite books set at hotels!
Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me the ARC of this fantastic historical fiction novel. I was so excited to get a copy of this story which is set against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s wedding to the Prince of Monaco.
It was a second-chance romance, a story of female friendship, and it was fantastic. It’s hard for me to figure out which character I loved the most – possibly Grace herself. Just know that Grace is more of a minor character in the story. I listened to parts of it on audiobook as well, and I can recommend that one too!
This is one of the Old Hollywood books set on location! It was a short novel about a translator, Alice, working in Seoul when Marilyn Monroe comes to visit the troops.
It was a jarring juxtaposition of Marilyn Monroe’s flightiness and Alice’s story about her life now and during her time in the Korean war. But there was also a thread about Alice’s ties to nefarious people that just distracted from what should have been a meaningful story.