Top positive review
Brilliant creation of the 70’s rock vibe
11 April 2019
Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote this novel in a totally innovative way. It’s presented as spliced together sections of in depth interviews with all concerned as they look back down the years: the artists, the manager, the spouse, the friend. The beauty of it is that we rapidly get different points of view - and versions of the truth - as the story unfolds. It’s loosely based on a Fleetwood Mac vibe: Daisy is the gutsy, beautiful wild child singer/songwriter with addiction problems; Billy the equally talented leader of The Six who’s married to firecracker Camila. Billy goes crazy with booze and drugs as the band is making it big, but gets straight for Camila and their child (later, children).
There are tensions. Billy’s brother Graham falls for keyboard player Karen, who loves him but wants to be a successful artist first and foremost. As she says, marriages are a little more equitable these days but back then, if a woman married and had kids, she could pretty well kiss a career goodbye. Eddie is the one who most resents Billy’s dominance in the group. There are always problems when walking the line between needing strong leadership and direction vs democratically allowing everyone a say and the chance to shine individually. Eddie’s brother Pete has a girlfriend back east. Drummer Warren is the most laidback. The biggest tension though is that after initial hostility, Daisy and Billy share an intense love that can never be acted on or even expressed, except it is. It comes out in their co-written songs and, having hit the heights of success, the band implodes after a Chicago show when the pain of longing, and singing about it every night, is too much to bear. Billy nearly falls off the wagon, struggling with his love for two very different women. Daisy has at last found someone who totally gets her but has to walk away - to rehab. Graham and Karen have their own issues, and Graham needs his brother’s attention at a time when Billy can’t give it. Camila understands everything but stands firm. Eddie is still pissed off. Pete and Warren are philosophical about the ride being over.
Not surprisingly, the book has been picked up and will be made into a 13 part TV series. It’ll be interesting to see how the script writers will deal with the disparate sets of recollections. The producers have a head start on one thing: Reid has penned lyrics for the songs mentioned in the book, which shed a little further light on the state of Daisy’s and Billy’s state of mind/heart. A unique book that really captures the soul of the 70’s rock scene. 4-5 stars.