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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

By Mark Smith

In the early-to-mid-1970s, American pop music entered a drowsy period of prog/glam/folk/soft-rock and heavy metal, a spell only sporadically broken until the arrival of punk and disco. Into this specific historical moment of musical malaise Taylor Jenkins Reid has sent her winsome and supercharged rock diva Daisy Jones to make the guitar boys drool and the groupie girls jealous, and forever change the history of rock-n-roll in her new novel Daisy Jones & The Six.

Perfect for beach reading, Reid’s new page-turner will thrill her devoted fans. Beautiful, sexy, willful, and gifted Daisy Jones just wants to sing her own songs, but the world is conspiring to kill her soul and make her a big rock star on their own terms. Fate steers her into the fold of a middling okay blues-rock band calling itself The Six. A stormy hot-and-cold relationship with Billy Dunne, the leader of The Six, ultimately yields one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time. Adventures on and off the tour ensue and complicated relationships abound, but hey, it’s a rock band.

This story is told with such painstaking realism that readers might sneak a peek at Wikipedia to see if we somehow missed the biggest band of the 1970s. We did not: they were called Fleetwood Mac and this is something similar to the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham story. Reid knows her audience and it is a stroke of marketing genius to know that her readers are probably also Stevie fans. To the author's credit, however, Daisy rises above a Stevie Nicks clone and becomes more like a collage of Hall of Fame Women Rockers, including Grace Slick, Chrissie Hynde, Deborah Harry, and even a dash of the free-spirited L.A. writer Eve Babitz thrown in for good measure.

The tropes crowd the stage like a Grammy finale: the good-hearted women and their good-timing men, the band on the run, the sisters doing it for themselves, the needle and the damage done, etc. But no one will mind and none of it detracts from the obvious research and meticulous attention to detail about the music industry that went into the novel. Reid is a thoughtful and earnest writer and, no surprise, Daisy Jones & The Six isn’t so much a book about music as it is a book about men and women and the balance of power between them. This is a good choice for readers looking for an engrossing story with an edgy heroine and a setting that is familiar, fast-moving, and dangerous, even if not all that much is really at stake.

Ballantine Books, 2019.

Click for a Reading Guide.

Mark Smith has over 35 years of experience in the library field in three states and in a variety of library settings. Since November 2013, he has served his home state of Texas as state librarian at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. He holds a bachelor of arts in English and a master’s in library science from the University of Texas at Austin.

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