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Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A very captivating and engaging read
Daisy Jones & The Six is a contemporary novel by best-selling American author Taylor Jenkins Reid which follows a group of musicians on their journey to create the era-defining rock album Aurora in the US in the 1970s and how it tore them apart at the height of their success. It’s a story of music, love, family, obsession and desperation.
The story is told retrospectively through interview transcript snippets from each of the characters reflecting back on that intense period of their lives as a ‘nonfiction’ oral history. At the beginning of the novel, we don’t fully know the context in which the characters have chosen to be so honest about their experiences but become quickly drawn into their intimate world of thoughts and feelings.
We only look like young stars / Because you can’t see old scars
This structure allows the book to be a real ensemble piece about the band, allowing us an insight into everyone’s state of mind. We get to know all the characters on an individual level and see the inconsistencies between their stories which adds an element of realism to the story.
Aside from the creative structure, there is nothing particularly new or exciting about the way that Reid writes. However, her simplistic and straightforward style works well to serve the story.
Daisy Jones & The Six is primarily a plot and character driven book. The story is always accelerating towards the next event or act, hurtling forwards like the ambitions of its characters. This makes the book a very captivating and engaging read.
And, baby, when you think of me / I hope it ruins rock ‘n’ roll / Regret me / Regretfully
Daisy Jones is a classic Taylor Jenkins Reid protagonist: a rich, beautiful and talented white woman with a flighty, self-destructive and addictive personality. The main focus of the novel is how Daisy comes to collaborate with the rest of band, The Six, and the brilliant music that somehow emerges from their conflict.
A lot of this conflict occurs between Daisy and Billy, who write the majority of the band’s music while mostly oblivious to the other dramas happening in their bandmates’ lives.
By far the most interesting tension in Daisy and Billy’s relationship is how close they must become in order to write Aurora together. The novel explores the idea that creative collaborators are destined to fall in love with each other at least in some way. Does it happen because you have to be so raw and vulnerable to create something? Or because it’s such an involved, intense process that others outside of it can’t understand?
When I was drowning / Three sheets and counting / The skies cleared / And you appeared / And I said, “Here is my Aurora”
Some of the conflict in Daisy and Billy’s relationship does feel forced at times. Most of it is centered around the fact that Billy is married to another woman, Camila, and has children with her. Throughout the book Billy is unhappy with his married life yet does nothing to unpack or resolve these feelings.
The book clearly demonstrates how heteronormative relationship constructs can be devastating to people who don’t want them through Billy’s story (and also through the relationship between two other bandmates, Karen and Graham).
Even outside of Daisy and Billy, Reid presents a great look into the world of making music. The book feels like a deep dive, a faux documentary, into the process of songwriting.
Book: Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 5 March 2019