Taylor Jenkins Reid’s newest novel digs deeper into classic rock culture than just the “sex, drugs, rock & roll” narrative we’ll all come to expect from books about 20th century musicians (although those three things feature quite prominently). In Daisy Jones & The Six, Jenkins Reid explores the realities of addiction, the complications of fame, and the hardships people face in trying to keep relationships alive.
Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of a famous eponymous band that rose to fame in the 70s and eventually broke up under mysterious circumstances that have never before been revealed to the public. Written as an oral history, the novel unfolds with band members, producers, managers and music critics speaking to an unidentified journalist or historian who is collecting all of their memories to reveal the truth behind the groups’ split. Reading Daisy Jones is like reading the script of a Netflix documentary – there’s no narrator description of settings or backstories, only the words of the people who were there and experienced the events the book is about. Sometimes their memories are conflicting or self-serving, which makes piecing together the band’s story all the more interesting and gives the novel an even more authentic feel.
Much of the book focuses on the band’s two lead singers, Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones. Both are talented musicians and songwriters, but their styles are at odds with one another, leading to tense conflict during the production of their most famous album. As each member of the band offers their accounts of the feud between Daisy and Billy, it becomes clear there was more at play the just the egos of two musicians vying for international fame. Daisy and Billy are similar in the worst possible ways - both are headstrong, emotionally complicated, and dealing with brutal addictions that threaten to destroy their careers and relationships. But they also share an innate gift for music and penning songs that people can relate to, and both become the centre of media and fan obsession.
Jenkins Reid, who garnered widespread attention with the publication of her last novel The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, is an expert at critiquing fame. In Evelyn Hugo she examined the life of a famous Hollywood actress through the lens of a reporter writing a biography about her career. In Daisy Jones, Jenkins Reid removes the reporter character completely, never transcribing the questions said individual is asking the musicians, but rather letting the story flow through their responses only. It’s clear someone is behind the scenes gathering information, but their intentions are not revealed until late in the novel. It adds a lovely sense of mystery and intrigue to an already riveting story.
At it’s core, Daisy Jones is about a group of people who, despite having all of the money and influence in the world, could never find the peace and happiness they sought while in the limelight. Their love of music and talent for performing was constantly at odds with the other things they wanted - sobriety, love, family and calm. Jenkins Reid’s unique storytelling style and knack for character development come together to create a beautiful and highly entertaining novel that will make you simultaneously want to go online and book concert tickets and call your family and tell them you miss them.
And that’s the beauty of Jenkins Reid’s work – while it provides cultural criticism of real problems in the world (i.e. substance abuse and infidelity) it’s also unbelievably fun to read. Daisy Jones will make you want to put on a Stones record and dance around your apartment. It will make you want to run out to the nearest thrift store and buy an overpriced fur coat. More than anything it will make you incapable of leaving your spot on the couch until you’ve flipped the last page of the book. And because she’s so determined to bring her characters and stories to life and make them jump off the page, Jenkins Reid has actually written full lyrics to each of the fictional songs she writes about in Daisy Jones and attached them to the back of the book.
Daisy Jones is wonderfully fun and deeply insightful novel about fame, fortune, and the people behind the songs we all know and love.
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