This is an open fan letter to Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Since DAISY JONES AND THE SIX recently came out, we’ll start there.
A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup.
Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
The Kirkus reviewer—review here—did not love this book, but Reese Witherspoon devoured it, so take that as you will. (Witherspoon is working on making the book into a Netflix show, which is a smart move, because a 70s sex, drugs & rock-n-roll theme and magnetic characters like Daisy and Billy should be huge draws.)
Let me also say that I received an audio copy of the book from Penguin Audio (thank you!) and I wonder if that might have made the book even more engaging.
It’s quite an audio cast: Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber, Fred Berman, January LaVoy, Julia Whelan and Robin Lee, among others. Whelan, one of my favorite audiobook narrators, has the perfect voice for the nearly clinical “narrator” who ushers in one of the biggest surprises in the book, which ultimately leads to the big reveal.
There is so much to love in this book, and I think Reid did an amazing job of telling a really complicated story through so many perspectives—making it even more complicated, but also more textured and nuanced, especially since it becomes clear that many of the perspectives are tainted by their own biases, secrets, egos and grievances.
Ultimately this is what I found so compelling, and it’s an element that I can see being nurtured by the superb audio cast and perhaps not as successful on the page. I don’t know. All I know if that I found the characters fascinating, and the storytelling brilliant.
Now about Taylor Jenkins Reid.
One of my favorite books of 2018 was THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO - aboutwhich the Kirkus review said: “Reid's heroine reveals her darkest secrets as if she were wiping off makeup at the end of the night—a celebration of human frailty that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all.” Like DAISY, this title has an interview element to the storytelling, though in a very different style. The big reveal in that book was a bit more stunning, but that’s one of the best things about TJR: even when her books have some similar elements, the story is completely different.
And they are all beautifully written, with unexpected twists and turns, and launching points that are unique and intriguing.
I’ve listened to all of the author’s titles aside from her debut, FOREVER, INTERRUPTED—which Kirkus called “A moving novel about life and death” (review here), and the Amazon-published short story Evidence of the Affair.
If you’re a member of the Audible romance package, AFTER I DO and MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE are included.
Kirkus gave MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE—a kind of fictional Sliding Doors take on the end of a night out with friends where she meets a man and has to decide who is giving her a ride home—a starred review, calling it “a thoughtful analysis of free will versus fate in which Hannah finds that disasters can bring unexpected blessings, blessings can bring unexpected disasters, and that most people are willing to bring Hannah her favorite cinnamon rolls.” The reviewer wrapped up with, “Entertaining and unpredictable; Reid makes a compelling argument for happiness in every life.”
Kirkus liked AFTER I DO (review here) too, saying “Reid’s tome on married life is as uplifting as it is brutally honest—a must-read for anyone who is in (or hopes to be in) a committed relationship.”
So—the takeaway today is, “Read Reid.” (I know, kind of terrible, but I couldn’t resist.)
Who are some of your fave writers right now?