Taylor Jenkins Reid's celebrity quartet- mini reviews

There's something about Taylor Jenkins Reid and how she writes that makes you want to just continue saying "one more page." I felt it first when I read the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - arguably the best book I read in 2021.

Two years later I picked up a second book by Reid and even though Daisy Jones and the Six didn't captivate as much as Evelyn Hugo did, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. I read half of its 300 pages in a day and finished the rest two days later.

Malibu Rising was good and light and fun. It got me out of yet another reading slump and I read Carrie Soto is Back right after, because I realised regardless of my overall ratings I ate these up so fast and I was gagged. I'm convinced Reid laced these books with crack cocaine because all these books are compulsively readable.

Now I had thought, as I read each of these, that I would write their own separate reviews but that didn't happen for various reasons, so I've just decided to make one big blog post about all of them, since they all happen in the same universe. I'm reviewing these in order of how I read them which is also coincidentally the order in which they were written.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I read this in 2021 because it kept popping up on bookstagram and I was intrigued by both the title and the cover. So I figured why not. And wow the bookstagram girlies did not disappoint. This book singlehandedly took me out of one of my worst reading slumps ever.

I picked it up and devoured it in a day - all 385 pages. It's been three years since I read this but man I still think about it. It was easily a 5 star read for me and I know I've read a few criticisms about this book which might have been valid, but here's the thing; I hardly remember them.

Notable Quotes

  • People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is 'you're safe with me'- that's intimacy.
  • Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.

Daisy Jones and The Six (gifted to me by the wonderful Mquzama alongside a physical copy of Evelyn and her husbands) didn't have me in a chokehold as much Evelyn's marital affairs did, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an engaging story. I devoured half of it while I was stuck in queue during a fuel shortage crisis and knew almost immediately I'd enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.

The story is told through interview transcripts - which I must admit - is definitely a choice. I think it's a definite hit or miss for some people. It was definitely a miss for me because I feel like I didn't get to know the characters. It was almost too much tell than show. And also the ending is a bit too neat for my liking, after all that angst between Daisy and Billy I wish it had been messier and that's all I have to say. This was my least favourite of her books and I still rated it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Notable Quotes

  • It hurts to care about someone more than they care about themselves.
  • No matter who you love, they'll break you're heart along the way.
  • You appreciate people more acutely when they are fleeting.

Malibu Rising

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them... and what they will leave behind.

I stumbled across Malibu Rising at a small bookshop and I l bought it for two reasons. The first being, of course it was my Reid and I liked most of her work this far. I had just read Daisy Jones a few months prior and I could not wait to sink into another one of her books. The second being that one of my best friends had read this book, I think around the same time I was reading Evelyn and could not shut up about how fun it was. And she was right. Malibu Rising was fun to read.

It almost faced a similar problem with Daisy Jones and The Six, whereby the characters were not explored enough for my liking, but it had better drama. I liked all the siblings - in fact I liked each character, even the ones I didn't like, including Mick Rivas - who has proven to be a douche bag across all of these books. That being said, I can't remember who I was at 20 , but I kept forgetting Kit was that age. She seemed like a sulky teenager - which is rich cause 20 is just a year after 19. So maybe she did get it right. Either way it was highly enjoyable read for me. And my third favourite book of this universe with a 3.5 star rating.

Notable Quotes

  • Nina understood, maybe for the first time, that letting people love you and care for you is part of how you love and care for them.
  • Family is found...whether it be blood or circumstance or choice, what binds us does not matter. All that matters is that we are bound.
  • Too much self-sufficiency was sort of mean to the people who loved you, Kit thought. You robbed them of how good it feels to give, of their sense of value.

Carrie Soto is Back

By the time Carrie retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Slam titles. And if you ask her, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father as her coach.
But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning, British player named Nicki Chan.
At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked the 'Battle-Axe' anyway. Even if her body doesn't move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.
In spite of it all: Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season.

Does it physically pain me that I don't have a copy of this on my shelf to complete the collection? Yes it does, but we move. I picked this up immediately after Malibu Rising and I found myself once again pulled in to the story. I really loved reading about Carrie Soto. Surprisingly this book was a lot about tennis - which kinda sounds glib given Ms Soto and her father were both tennis players and that's what the story is about. But, this story was about tennis in a way that Evelyn Hugo was not about Movies, and Daisy Jones was not about music and Malibu Rising was not about surfing. And also, there was a great deal of Spanish thrown in. I can see why this would put some people off, but I hardly noticed. In fact, maybe it even added a bit of pazzazz to it for me.

I truly loved Carrie. She is the type of unlikeable character that I just can't help rooting for. And don't get me started on her relationship with her father. Gawd it made my heart swell. Made me terribly miss a man I never had a chance to know. And her relationship with Bowe made me warm inside even though I wished it was explored more - but that's just the romantic in me. I originally gave this book 3.5 stars but when I found myself days later googling about Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka and how the game of Tennis works, I knew Carrie Soto had won my heart - and I bumped up my rating to 4 stars.

Notable Quote:

Grief is like a deep, dark hole. It calls like a siren: Come to me, lose yourself here. And you fight it and you fight it and you fight it, but when you finally do succumb and jump down into it, you can’t quite believe how deep it is. It feels as if this is how you will live for the rest of your life, falling. Terrified and devastated, until you yourself die.
But that is the mirage.
That is grief’s dizzying spell.
The fall isn’t never-ending, It does have a ground floor.

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