Book Review – Daisy Jones And The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pages: 381
Published: 5th March 2019
Genre: General Fiction
Trigger warnings: Drugs, sexual references, alcoholism

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they 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.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, 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 the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

There are many ways to tell a good story, and this no holds barred portrayal of the 1970s rock and roll lifestyle hits all the right notes. Told with breathtaking authenticity and an impeccable attention to detail, it is in some ways akin to a cultural study that explores the essence of human nature and its many flaws, the outcome of which is a standout piece of literature.

What makes this book so engrossing and addictive is the unique, documentary style format and the characters, who are incredibly well defined to the extent that you cannot fail to develop some kind of attachment towards them. These factors are what drive everything, yet lying underneath that we also have intelligent plotting and a refreshing avoidance of cliché.

Billy Dunne was the frontman of The Six, a successful rock band that he formed with his brother Graham and four other musicians. Known for his natural presence on stage and insistence on having the final say on each of the band’s creative decisions, he also endured battles against drugs and alcohol that threatened to derail his marriage to Camila.

As they prepare to work on a new album, the Six are advised by their agent to record a duet with a female singer, and the one chosen is Daisy Jones. A free-spirited and somewhat wayward character, Jones and Billy clash upon meeting for the first time and forge a strained working relationship, but a strange connection soon emerges between them and together they get the best out of each other.

The decision is then made for The Six to record an entire album with Daisy Jones and she goes on to become an official member of the band. Once released, Aurora achieves unprecedented success, making them arguably the world’s biggest musical act, but then they suddenly split at the very height of their fame. Over thirty years on, this book represents the first account of what really happened from beginning to end, in the words of the people who were right at the centre of it.

Split into sections that tell the story of the band in chronological terms, it is presented as a book within a book. There is no prose whatsoever; instead it begins with an author’s note and is then entirely made up of testimonials from all but one of the band members (the other refuses to take part) along with key associates such as friends, spouses, their tour manager, and music critics.

This method of storytelling was an inspired choice, as it captures everything in a more tangible and perhaps more meaningful way than if the author had decided to stick to convention. Indeed, it would not have worked any other way, and what is also hugely impressive is how some of the characters remember certain events slightly differently and give conflicting accounts.

The plot was endlessly fascinating as it built gradually in line with the band’s trajectory, from its formation to the arrival of Daisy, to the release of Aurora and the subsequent parting of ways. It covers every single aspect of their careers, with the burning question of what caused the split always hanging in the air, as well as how the relationships between the characters would progress. There is a neat little twist towards the end as well, which adds further credibility to the story.

Much of the attention focuses on Billy and Daisy and the complex emotional dynamic they share once they start to work together, however all of the supporting cast play a very central role and have their own stories told along the way. It is rather bittersweet across the board, and each character’s voice is so distinct, with the writing successfully conveying a range of personalities.

Billy has a number of flaws and what makes him so arresting is his extreme self-awareness and determination to do the best by his family, having to make the right decision in the face of internal dilemmas and regular temptations. He comes across as something of a loveable rogue and not at all artificial, which made him easy to connect with. I also felt that he and Camila made for a great pairing.

Then we have Daisy, who is a beacon of individuality. She is impulsive and at times vulnerable as she endures some challenging situations of her own, but more than anything else she does things on her own terms and never conforms to societal expectations. In doing so she is described as the kind of person you cannot tear your eyes away from, or like a wisp of smoke. What is for sure is that if she were real, she would be held up as a true feminist icon.

The keyboard player, Karen, is another woman with a compelling point of view and was also a likeable character, while her on/off relationship with Graham is an ongoing sub-plot. In the end I could sympathise for them both. Warren is as laid back as it gets and a little bit on the sleazy side, and fellow bandmate Eddie is shown to have a large ego that makes him temperamental.

As the book consists of 99.9% dialogue, there is an onus on everything to seem believable and convincing, and it is fair to say that the author absolutely nails it. There is sophistication everywhere you look which allows the characters to become truly memorable, along with an impressive knowledge of the music industry that really shines through. The author even goes one better by producing lyrics for all the songs on Aurora and including them at the end.

Overall, the uniqueness of the format, the magnificently drawn characters, and the approach taken towards particular themes all combine to ensure that this is not quite your average read. Indeed, there is nothing average about this book whatsoever, as it takes over your thoughts with increasing urgency at each turn of the page and resonates in unexpected ways. It is fantastic in just about every respect.

Originally from Massachusetts, Taylor Jenkins Reid began her career in film production before becoming a novelist, releasing her first book Forever in 2013. Three more followed before The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo arrived in 2017, which achieved extraordinary success and was seen just about everywhere you looked on bookish social media.

That was nominated for a Goodreads Choice award, and she went one better by winning in 2019 for Daisy Jones And The Six, which has received almost universal acclaim. It is currently being developed into a mini-series by Reese Witherspoon. Her latest novel, Malibu Rising, was published in 2021. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

All of the hype surrounding Taylor Jenkins Reid admittedly left me slightly intimidated to pick up one of her books, but having finally picked this one up I am thoroughly convinced that it is justified. This is a fabulous book, full to the brim with creativity and lines which left an impression. I shall not be forgetting the characters in a hurry either. I loved it.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

14 thoughts on “Book Review – Daisy Jones And The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  1. Interesting review, might pick it up.
    On a side note, I had some interesting results when I googled The Six.
    It also refers to a group of six Chinese who survived the Titanic disaster. Arriving in New York with the other survivors, the six were met not with compassion, but suspicion and slander. Less than 24 hours later, they were expelled from the country, and vanished. Till a documentary investigated the issue. https://www.facebook.com/thesixdocumentary/
    The Six represents also the city of Toronto, and originates from how Toronto is made up of the 6 former cities/boroughs of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, York and Etobicoke, and East York. Many people assume The Six comes from Toronto’s area codes 416 and 647.
    And it is the title of a musical where the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power https://sixonbroadway.com/

    Like

  2. I knew you would like this book and I’m so glad I was right. 😊 The structure of this story is so well created, the author also creates the most realistic characters I’ve ever read in my life, it’s simply superior! 👏🏻
    Amazing Review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely were, thank you for being one of the people who helped persuade me to read this! 🤗 The characters were so authentic, it takes such a talented author to create that. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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