In brief: In the 1970s, Daisy Jones and the band The Six just want to make music their way. When they come together, they are a force to be reckoned with onstage. Offstage, the dynamics are complex and everchanging.
The good: Taylor Jenkins Reid just knows how to bring characters to life.
The not-so-good: I want it all. I want more Taylor Jenkins Reid because she is a superstar writer!
Why I chose it: I’m a bit gaga for this author, if you haven’t guessed.
Publisher: Hutchinson (Penguin Random House)
Setting: Mainly America
Rating: 10 out of 10
I have tried to hold off reading Daisy Jones & The Six because I know I’ll fall head over heels for the characters. Well, I lasted nearly a month since the book was released and I can tell you it is that good. Book yourself out one weekend and get into this novel. It’s a fantastic novel with strong, memorable characters that captures the 1970s music scene without blinkers. Even if you are slightly disturbed by the reference to Fleetwood Mac, do not be afraid. Daisy Jones and The Six transcend the era to become timeless in this story, a biography of sorts of the band told by themselves and their associates to their interviewer.
Like any good tale told under the influence of a range of vices, the opinions and recollections of everyone differ. Sometimes wildly, sometimes down to a minor he said/she said point. That’s part of what makes this book so fun is that you, the reader, are part of these squabbles and inconsistencies. It feels like you’re not seeing the clean, finished product but the whole process of the collection of interviews, the organisation and the writing. By being told in this format, you get an even closer examination of each of the characters seen through the eyes of the others. The group has quite a range of them! Daisy Jones is unlike anything else. She’s a free spirit who prefers not to wear shoes wherever possible but carries a range of pills for every occasion in her pocket. She’s stubborn, she doesn’t care and she can be impulsive. She’s a wild child who nothing ever touches until later on – and then it hits hard. Billy Dunne, the lead singer and crux of The Six, admires Daisy but ultimately she frustrates him. Her pill taking and her refusal to do what he says infuriate him – how dare she muscle in on his band, where Billy’s word is law? But she intrigues him and they work better together than alone. The rest of The Six could fade into the background if not for their personalities. Karen is an independent, feminist woman making a name for female musicians. She doesn’t want anything to distract from her work ultimately. Graham is Billy’s brother and guitarist. He’s somewhat frustrated by Billy’s military control of the band, but hey, it’s his brother so he’s used to it. Warren is the drummer and looking for ladies and fun. He’s chill compared to Eddie who is continually annoyed by Billy putting him on the backburner. His brother Pete will just enjoy the band while it’s fun and when it’s not, he’s out.
The combination of personalities means the band is a powder keg waiting to go off. But it’s the women in this novel that hold the cards. They are strong, feminist role models. Camila, Billy’s wife, tells it how it is to everyone. She’s proud to be a wife and mother and knows when to put her foot down. Daisy does what she wants, when she wants. Karen is more quietly powerful and Daisy’s friend Simone knows when to say no. As the novel charts the rise of the band to stadium tour status (that’s big), the cracks become wider and the problems more complex. The ambition is still there…or is it?
I loved the format of this story. You might think that the band’s history told by multiple people in the first person (especially when some comments are no more than a few words) could be confusing and/or boring to read. But it’s just the right format to get into your mind and heart. With Daisy Jones, Taylor Jenkins Reid has created another memorable character that will stick around in heads for years to come. That TV series can’t come quickly enough!