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 and 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.
After the masterpiece that was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I had high hopes for it, especially since it continues in the same vein of learning the backstory of fictionalized Hollywood icons. In this case, it’s a band reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. And it’s… fine. It’s fine. This book is fine.
There’s a lot going for this book. It’s formatted as an interview with the former members of Daisy Jones & The Six. This is such a unique and effective way to tell the story and make it feel real. It takes the narrative structure of Evelyn Hugo and pares it down even more. It’s fascinating to see how each character interprets the events of their past and how they remember things differently.
The characters are deeply flawed— especially Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne. Daisy is wild and trapped deep within the throws of addiction. She’s driven by ambition, but is unreliable. Billy is passionate about his music, but is controlling and condescending. He’s a recovering addict, but is still utterly unaware of his other faults. He’s a devoted husband and father, despite his past mistakes; however, he’s an awful friend and band member. As such, this book largely becomes the Billy and Daisy Show.
Of course, the other characters are just as flawed, if slightly more likable. Eddie is frustrated at being excluded from the band; Graham is naive and a bit of a Nice Guy; Karen is struggling for legitimacy as a woman in a man’s world; Warren is just along for the ride; Pete is looking for a way out; Camila will do whatever it takes to get her happily ever after. Large portions of their arcs are dedicated to Eddie and Billy’s feud and Graham and Karen’s affair.
Moreover, this is not a story with a happy ending. The band doesn’t make up. The characters don’t see the error of their ways. In the end, everyone believes they are right and were wronged. It’s frustrating and a bit of a downer, but true to life.
Everything about this book should be right up my alley. I love stories about assholes being assholes. I love when things aren’t tied up in a little bow at the end. I love when things are difficult. So why don’t I love this book?
Well, for starters, I can’t stand Daisy and Billy. They’re extremely difficult characters to root for, self-centered and self-righteous as they are. I can’t figure out why exactly I can’t get behind their big personalities. I think they just frustrate me so deeply because they’re so fundamentally difficult to get along with. Which is the point. But, in my case, it backfired and made me hate them.
I didn’t like the twist that makes this interview more personal. It adds nothing to the story, as it’s only something that’s acknowledged briefly towards the end of the novel. It made me roll my eyes. It felt more like Jenkins Reid was trying to emulate Evelyn Hugo than something that made sense for the story.
And then, on the very last page, the book pulls a How I Met Your Mother. If you’ve read the book and watched the show, you know what I mean. I absolutely hate when writers spend time (whether chapters or seasons) building something up, only to rip the rug out from under you. It’s having your cake and eating it too.
So maybe my problem with this book is my own baggage. I kept comparing it to the far superior Evelyn Hugo, I clashed with the characters, and was reminded of my least favorite television finale. Maybe the problem with this book is me. But maybe not.
After all, I finished this book two days ago and have not thought about it since. Evelyn Hugo stuck with me. I raised my rating from four stars to five because of how it got under my skin. But this book is utterly unobtrusive. It’s left no mark on me. I don’t even hate it. Any anger I felt toward the characters while reading vanished the second I closed the book. It’s like the book doesn’t exist to me now.
On the upside, Daisy Jones & The Six is getting a limited series. That means we’ll actually get to hear the songs, which is the one thing I desperately want. I volunteer Liz Gillies for the role of Daisy. But, as for my relationship with this book, I’m going to have to go my own way.
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