Title: Daisy Jones and the Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release Date: 7th March 2019
My Rating: 4 Stars
“For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now.
They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently.
The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot, on to the stage at the Whisky, the band were irrevocably changed.
Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.”
I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by Hutchinson. This in no way affects my thoughts and opinions.
Daisy Jones and the Six had the impossible task of being the follow up to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. With a book that incredible, I think it’s widely accepted that Taylor Jenkins Reid was always going to have a tough time replicating that and honestly, I didn’t believe she would be able. I went in to Daisy Jones trying not to compare the two books because I did not at all believe she could create something so beautiful again. Sadly I was right. I still really enjoyed this book, but it lacked that real connection that we all felt with Evelyn Hugo and there was just something about it that was not quite so incredible. Objectively, without comparison to Evelyn Hugo, I believe this is a 4 star read. It was engaging and emotional, but didn’t quite reach that 5 star tier for me and I know a lot of other people felt the same.
Daisy Jones and the Six is a story in two halves, that ultimately converge. We follow both Daisy Jones, beautiful enigmatic soul singer, and rock band The Six with a whole cast of contrasting characters including frontman Billy, who struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism and balancing his rock and roll with his family. The characters in the band were really fleshed out with different motivations and tensions between each of them. Each of them had their own opinions and we got to see them all in contrast with each other.
The book, instead of being written as traditional prose, is written as if each character is being interviewed. This means as the narrative progresses, we see all of the events as they happen from the different characters, often conflicting, perspectives. Often when something happens and one character gives their side of the story, someone else will give a completely different view on what happened. These will be placed side by side with no interjection from the author to explain what the true turn of events was. This often puts the reader in a position of having to decide who to believe, based on their impression of the characters. The story is a constant juxaposition of one voice against another. It’s a really interesting format and makes for a really interesting story. I think it sometimes makes you feel a little removed from the story, as you don’t get the same description and depth that you’d usually get, but the format makes up for it by being so unique.
One thing about this writing format that I thought really increases the experience, was how she wrote each characters voice in the interviews – she switched between past and present tense retelling, which made it feel like each character was telling the story differently in their own voice. Taylor Jenkins Reid wasn’t writing like a writer here, she was writing like someone telling a story.
I found this book to be super engaging. When I first sat down to read, I was going to give it a chapter to see if I was in the mood to give it a try, and ended up reading 100 pages. It’s so easy to just keep reading on, as it’s split into such an easily consumable format. You find yourself becoming really invested in the lives of the characters, which is something TJR does very well, especially with Daisy and Billy, who are the definitely the main stars of the book. It really examines how hard life on the road for 70s rock and roll bands in the height of the genre must have been. When we think of bands such as Fleetwood Mac, we never really know how it was and what drove them apart, and the whole goal of this book is to take a look at the intricacies of the inter-band relationships and the struggles in the lives of each individual band member, that ultimately lead to Daisy Jones and The Six falling apart.
As a musician myself (semi-retired), I found the whole section when the band write and record their Aurora album absolutely fascinating. As someone who has written and recorded and worked with other musicians to create music, the whole feel of this section was completely spot on. TJR nailed the feeling of writing a song, recording it and the excitement of feeling it all come together. I loved this portion of the book, but I do sort of feel like to anyone who isn’t a musician or super into music, that it might have been a bit much. I don’t feel like that large middle portion of the book will be as accessible and interesting to everyone, and I definitely see some readers finding that too much emphasis was put on that section of the book.
“Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until it hits something.”
Daisy Jones was a really interesting character to me – a large portion of her personality was her trying to be someone in her own right. She didn’t want to be another songwriter’s muse, or be the pretty face singing someone else’s songs. Her intention is always to be taken seriously in her art. There is this quote that I love, when she’s discussing how a man took something she came up with and put it in his song about her, without considering that those words were her own;
“I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.”
Daisy is not perfect, in fact she can be horrendously selfish and naive, but she knows what she wants and she will try her hardest to get it. She is also terribly broken and beautifully vulnerable.
One of the main themes of this book is the pain of caring about someone else more than they care about themselves. This manifests in different characters on both sides of the coin. We see this in familial love, romantic love and friendship. It can be heartbreaking, and some characters recover from it, whilst others don’t. It truly is the essence of the book and the heart of the story. People put themselves through so much and are so hard and critical of themselves, without seeing how the pain they’re in affects those they love, and I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this – it’s a fundamental part of human nature.
This book is A Star is Born, crossed with Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. Half the story of a band’s journey to the top, and half a story of emotion and human nature. If you’ve read and loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, try and go into this with an open mind, not making comparisons between the two novels. If you go into that way, you’re never going to enjoy this book for what it is and you’re only going to disappoint yourself. If you are a lover of Evelyn Hugo though, keep your eyes peeled for the easter egg! There is a character from that book mentioned in Daisy Jones. This book wasn’t perfect, and perhaps will not be for everyone. I’d be interested to see how it’s recieved by those who aren’t music lovers. However, I really enjoyed it and found it to be worth the read. TJR never fails to ask questions that make you think about human condition, and again creates lifelike, three-dimensional characters that make you question if her writing is fiction or non-fiction.