Taylor Jenkins Reid featuring Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books came to the fore in the UK during Lockdown, with multiple TikTok book reviews being made about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and then Daisy Jones and the Six. It took me a while to get round to reading either as I am not usually that interested in the portrayals of the celebrity world but I was struck by the attention given to not just these two books but the whole of the author’s back catalogue through Social Media platforms.
And so eventually I gave in to populist pressure - and read them.
Daisy Jones and the Six appealed more initially because I do love Fleetwood Mac’s music and was aware of the connections made between them and this novel –it is based on the rise and fall of a popular rock band in the 70s. I decided to listen to it as an audio book during my commute and was immediately hooked. The ‘interview’ style of the writing was just right for the story – all band members independently tell their own versions of the history of the group from forty years on – and the picture of complicated relationships are so well drawn that by the end the reader feels as though they have been living in that world themselves, observing and existing on the sidelines of the complicated relationships that are described. The emotion and heartache behind the songs add insight into the sentiments of what really went on within the band adding an extra layer to the novel. There are obvious parallels to Fleetwood Mac but this is its own story and it has gone on to be filmed as a very successful series with a full original album of new songs sung by the actors themselves. But consensus is that the book is still better than the series, and if you can, listen to the audio book for the best experience.
Jenkins Reid’s earlier book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo seemed less appealing to me – it is based on the lifestory of a fictional movie star – Elizabeth Taylor springs to mind. It was only after both my daughters had read it -and raved about it- that I decided it was time to give in and read it. It helped that it was about a reporter who was selected by movie star Evelyn Hugo to write her life story – this added context to the book for me as the story is revealed to the chosen reporter through multiple sittings. The ambitious rise of a poor girl from Cuba to becoming a rich and famous movie star with a glamourous lifestyle reveals her as a single-minded, selfish person who sleeps her way to the top – and yet the reader can’t help but feel a tiny bit sorry for her. In many ways life dealt her a bad hand yet she fights her way up, managing to keep so much of the truth about her life a secret from the celebrity world. The life painted for us in the book is vivid and dramatic – just like you would expect a movie star lifestyle to be- with a twist at the end that pulls at your heart strings.
The author’s background as a Casting Assistant in Hollywood has obviously given her some insight into the celebrity world and has provided her with material for story ideas. Four of her novels – including the two mentioned here - have connections that link their celebrity worlds together though you would need to be very au fait with the books and characters to notice them yourself.
Carrie Soto is Back is the latest title and is about the comeback of a world famous, record winning tennis player.
There are other novels by Jenkins Reid that I may get round to reading some time soon – I do like her writing style and can see why she is so popular. I am very impressed by her appeal to the younger generations who seem to be coming to her books in droves. Anything that promotes reading in this way has to be a good thing – in my book anyway. Have you read any of them yet?