Written By: Sophie Archambault
I love Hollywood. I love the movies, the fashion, the scandal, the gossip, the award shows. I stalk celebrities’ Instagram accounts like it’s my job and read People magazine in waiting rooms. So naturally, it follows that I also love Taylor Jenkins Reid. Though Reid started her career writing contemporary romances, in 2017, she shifted gears when she published her bestselling novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which is a look inside the Old Hollywood glamor of the 1960s. Two years later, Daisy Jones and the Six came out, a chronicle of the rise and fall of a ’70s rock band, and in 2021, she published Malibu Rising, a book that follows the children of a famous singer in 1980s California. In each book, Reid examines the peaks and pitfalls of celebrity through complicated characters who find themselves in the public eye.
Reid’s settings are vivid, opulent, glamorous—everything one would expect from the rich and the famous. She brings humanity to Hollywood’s untouchables, but never shies away from their flaws and complexities. Evelyn Hugo goes to great lengths to protect her public image and those she loves; Daisy Jones struggles with the temptations of a rock and roll lifestyle; Mick Riva is a talented singer, but an absent father, and each of his children struggle with his legacy. Reid’s Hollywood is completely fictional. Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones, and the Rivas did not really exist, but they’re so convincingly constructed that they may as well have. Occasionally, Reid namedrops a real star of the era (there’s a mention of Rob Lowe in Malibu Rising) but most characters are made up. Most intriguing though, is that her Hollywood universe is connected across the three books.
In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, aging starlet Evelyn Hugo tells her life story to an up-and-coming magazine reporter. Mick Riva is one of Evelyn’s titular husbands—she marries him as a publicity stunt, so his presence in the story is notable, but short-lived. His story picks up again in Malibu Rising, though the book is really about his four children who have become celebrities in their own right through their surfing prowess. Malibu Rising also name drops Warren Rhodes, the drummer of the titular band in Daisy Jones and the Six and Celia St. James, the love of Evelyn Hugo’s life. This year will see the release of Carrie Soto is Back, which will follow Carrie Soto, a character in Malibu Rising, through the professional tennis world of the 1990s.
Reid approaches each story differently. Evelyn Hugo is written in first-person, as Evelyn tells her story to the reporter, and is interspersed with tabloid articles about her various marriages and scandals. Daisy Jones is written completely in dialogue and reads like the transcript of a music documentary while Malibu Rising is a traditional third-person novel. I look forward to seeing what Reid does with Carrie Soto is Back. I’m sure she’ll capture the ’90s as well as she did the previous three decades, and that Carrie Soto will be as infuriating and sympathetic as her other protagonists. I cannot recommend Taylor Jenkins Reid enough for those as obsessed with celebrity culture as I am.