If you are a fan of a certain troubled rock ’n’ roll band from the 1970s, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the eponymous character of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new novel is based on Stevie Nicks. You’d also be forgiven for wondering, wait, did Stevie really marry an Italian prince? This will send you racing to Wikipedia, where you will learn that no, Stevie did not marry an Italian prince. However, like the marriage of Daisy Jones and her cracked Italian nobleman, Stevie’s one marriage was just as impulsive and just as brief.
Daisy, a talented singer and a gorgeous, drug-addled train wreck, falls in with a band called The Six at a critical juncture. The group’s fame and fortune blow up, and Daisy rides the rocket with them thanks to her passionate duets with their founder and leader, Billy Dunne. Inevitably, Daisy and the married Billy fall in love. They also hate each other’s guts. It’s beautiful.
Readers will feel for Billy though. A recovering druggie and alcoholic, he’s saved from dissipation by his wife, Camila, and their kids. His integrity and lack of cynicism keep the reader from resenting him the way his bandmates sometimes do. At the same time, Reid is adroit enough to make us understand why his white-knuckled virtue gets on people’s nerves.
A multinarrative interview style of storytelling allows Daisy, Billy, the members of The Six and others in their orbit, such as managers, producers, rock critics and loved ones, to recall their memories. They’re being interviewed around 2012 or so, and everyone is now of a certain age, so some of those memories contradict, and many are funny or sorrowful and startlingly candid. Their confessions become even more surprising when we learn the identity of the interviewer.
It’s hard to be good is the message of Reid’s humane, delectable, rollicking novel. But goodness is still worth the trouble.