✨ Spoiler Free ✨
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication year: 2019
Content warnings: Drugs, alcoholism, addiction, self-harm, domestic abuse, abortion and trauma.
Daisy Jones and The Six soared to stardom in the 1970s becoming one of the most successful and well-known bands in the world. Through a series of oral interviews the band’s history is revealed for the first time, chronicling the highs and lows of their journey from their inception to the their split.
What I liked
- The characters
- Daisy and Billy’s relationship
- Depiction of the rock-star lifestyle
- Exploration of difficult topics such as addiction
- Writing style and format
- Discussions around love and long-term relationships
What I disliked
- Structure in places
- Lack of development and weak characterisation of minor characters
- The cast of characters could sometimes get confusing
Plot and Structure
The plot tells an autobiographical tale of the band members – Daisy, Billy, Graham, Karen, Warren, Eddie and Pete – through a series of oral interviews with the band members, their loved ones and journalists. Essentially, it’s a transcript for a documentary about the band’s life. It’s not a very plot heavy story and is almost 100% character driven with a particular focus on Daisy and Billy. I personally adored the plot. I enjoyed the drama, angst and heightened sense of emotion that went with the rock n’ roll lifestyle the band led. I also liked the way that a full picture was built up of the band, their lives, their relationships and their ups and downs as individuals and as a band.
Generally, I would be skeptical of the interview transcript format that Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR) used because I would expect it to create a disconnect and lack insight into the characters emotions and thoughts, but it really worked for me. I felt connected to the characters and their stories. I also found that way the dialogue was used helped me to build a more nuanced picture of the characters than I would in a traditional first or third person perspective, because I was able to hear other people’s perspectives on the characters.
Structurally, it was organised chronologically with chapters sorted by key dates. This was easy to follow and made sense for the chosen format. However, were some issues with the structure of the dialogue from the interviews. On multiple ocassions it jumped from one character telling a story to another character telling a completely different story. At times this made it difficult to follow and created some irritation for me due to the lack of flow. I also sometimes felt like the extracts from the journalists were shoe-horned in. But when considering the TV documentary style that TJR beckoned to, I understood her choice to include the voices of third parties outside of the band and the immediate people in their lives.
There’s not much to comment on regarding the writing style. In comparison to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the writing style here doesn’t really shine but that’s understandable considering the format. Since it’s written exclusively through dialogue, the language is colloquial and plain. Personally, I’m a fan of complex, flowery language and writing style is important to me, so this wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea. But because of the way that the story was told overall, the writing style wasn’t much of an issue for me.
Characters and Relationships
Where to even begin with the characters and relationships in this book? I love them SO MUCH. Admittedly the character work isn’t strong with all the characters. Daisy and Billy were the main characters with Graham and Karen being the secondary main characters. The others were in the background and never fully realised. I kept getting confused about who Eddie, Warren and Pete were because they were just there but didn’t really have a part to play in the overall story. However, I felt like this was a reflection of real life bands and the way that the spotlight is often thrust onto one or two key players and the rest of the band live in the shadows. Case and point: I’m a huge Oasis fan, but outside of Liam and Noel Gallagher I know next to nothing about the other band members 🤷 I did enjoy the part that Karen played in the book with the feminist themes that were included in her arc as a woman in the 1970s who rejected the gender norms associated with feminitity around romance and family. I also didn’t mind that some of the minor characters were underdeveloped because Daisy and Billy more than made up for that.
Let me tell you, Daisy and Billy have stolen my heart. These characters are deeply flawed and a lot of people won’t like them, but they feel so real to me. They’re toxic individuals with a lot of issues and represent what we see so much in the media of big rock star celebrities. The exploration of addiction and mental health was relentless and it worked so well because TJR didn’t hold back any punches. She wasn’t concerned about writing them to be likeable but writing them to be authentic. Their struggles and flaws were so humanising that even though I disagreed with them on pretty much everything they did, I still sympathised with them.
There were some great relationship dynamics too. Billy and Graham with their sibling relationship, the father-son relationship between Billy and the band manager Rod, the turblent relationship between Graham and Karen, Billy’s relationship with his long-term partner Camila and of course, Billy and Daisy. There was a lot of conflict and tension in all of the relationships between the characters which added to the character development.
I particularly loved the messages attached to Billy and Camila about commitment and marriage. It was a refreshing perspective to read about long-term relationships. The expectations Billy and Camila had of each other were realistic and they were devoted to making their relationship work no matter what struggles they faced.
My favourite relationship was Daisy and Billy, because I’m that basic 😂 but oh my god, the sheer angst, tension and chemistry from these two seeped from the page. Every scene they had together had me on the edge of my seat. There’s something about the dynamic and chemistry that’s addictive (which is ironic considering the context of the characters, I wonder if that was intentional?). Again, I loved the messages attached to their relationship and how it was offset against Billy’s relationship with Camila without creating a love triangle.
Daisy Jones and the Six is one of my favourite books. The fact that I’ve read it for the second time in two years is proof of that! Whilst the interview format might be off-putting for some readers due to the disonnect it can create, I feel it worked perfectly for what TJR was trying to achieve. Although the plot was straightforward, the character work and discussions around addiction, mental health and love truly struck gold for me. Complex, flawed and unlikeable characters are a personal love of mine and Daisy and Billy more ticked those boxes for me. This book is worth the read for Daisy and Billy alone.
I’d recommend Daisy Jones and the Six if:
You’re looking for a character-driven- easy-to-read formatted story about the intense rock ‘n roll lifestyle of a 1970s band which is filled with drama and angst and explores dark themes around addiction, self-destruction and love.
This review is based on a re-read. I first read the book in March 2020, if you would like to read my original review you can find it over at Goodreads.
Have you read Daisy Jones and the Six or are you planning to read it? Let me know in the comments!
Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.