Tag Archives: taylor jenkins reid

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Our lives are made up of a million different little decisions, every day, and the implications of one choice vs another can be significant. It’s always fascinating to think about the road not taken, the path never charted. Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of those books with an irresistible Sliding Doors-esque plot that explores two different ways a woman’s life plays out, depending on whether she goes home one night or stays out at a bar.

Why I Picked It Up: I went on a business trip and didn’t bring enough books with me. (This almost NEVER happens!) I was trying to fit everything into a carry-on and didn’t want to stuff in another book. I figured Long Bright River would take longer to get through, but then I ended up finishing it the day before I left and I had book panic about the flight home. So I headed to a bookstore in search of a book I didn’t already have at home, and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe In Another Life was on the shelf. I’ve liked 4 of her other books, so I picked it up.

Hannah is in her late 20s and a bit adrift in life. She’s lived in a few different cities but never really rooted anywhere, and has just gotten out of a relationship with a married man. With little keeping her in New York City, her most recent home, she decides to move back to Los Angeles, where she grew up and where her best friend Gabby lives. On her second night back, Hannah and Gabby go out to a bar to meet up with old friends. Hannah’s old boyfriend Ethan is there, and after a night of flirting and dancing with him, Hannah goes home with him… OR she calls it a night and goes home with Gabby.

In both versions of Hannah’s life, major things happen to both Hannah and Gabby. Reid does a nice job of teasing out the stories, throwing in some twists and surprises along the way. In the end, though, Maybe In Another Life was my least favorite of her books. It was kind of superficial, with major conversations between characters dispensed with in half a page. Serious, big issues are dealt with quickly, with little introspection or emotion, and people fall in love within a matter of weeks. Hannah herself isn’t all that interesting and most of the characters are pretty bland and inoffensive. I read the book pretty quickly and while I liked the way it was constructed, in the end it didn’t make much of an impact on me.

Maybe In Another Life was Book #10 of 2010.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m not sure that the book blogosphere has ever been as excited about an upcoming novel as it is about Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six (release date March 5). I was lucky to get my hands on a review copy and read it because I just couldn’t wait until March. This is the fourth TJR book I’ve read in the last year and the hype had me very intrigued.

Daisy Jones & The Six is a fictional oral history of a rock band from the 70s called The Six. The lead singer of The Six, Billy Dunne, was a brilliant singer and songwriter, but was dogged by addiction and his past failings. Daisy Jones, another brilliant but troubled singer and songwriter, found her way to the band, joining it for one iconic album that catapulted the group to stardom and thrust the relationship between the two singers into the spotlight.

The book is told in the style of a Vulture or Rolling Stone oral history, with the story related through the words of the band members and others close to The Six. You hear everyone’s perspectives on the events that happened – the tour dates, the recording sessions, the drug binges (Daisy), the temptations (Billy), the band’s inevitable breakup and the milestones experienced by the other band members. It’s not until the end of the book that you discover who was doing the interviewing, and why.

I liked Daisy Jones & The Six. The beginning felt very familiar, as it included many of the typical rock cliches that pop up on every episode of Behind The Music. Then the book got a little more surprising, as Daisy and Billy’s relationship became more complicated. The question of whether these two flawed people, who were passionately drawn to each other, would end up exploring that passion or resisting it kept me interested throughout the book. It’s easy to forget that The Six didn’t actually exist because Reid makes the book so realistic. (There are even song lyrics at the end.) Ultimately, though, I found drugs/drinking vs sobriety/commitment angle a little tiresome. So many pills, so much coke – it all kind of blurred together. And that detracted from the overall power of the story.

The oral history format worked well here and made the book flow quickly.

Daisy Jones & The Six is going to be a big hit, and Amazon has already ordered a 13-episode limited series co-produced by Reese Witherspoon. I promise that you will be hearing a lot about it. It was an entertaining read, and as someone who loves rock history, I enjoyed many of the backstage elements of the story.

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2018 is the year I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid.

My third TJR of the year (after One True Loves and After I Do) was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This book has gotten so much love in the book blogosphere that despite the fact that I passed it up at Book Expo a few years ago, I decided I had to read it.

Evelyn Hugo is a legendary Hollywood film actress in her seventies who famously had seven marriages, but remained tight-lipped about them over the course of her life. Suddenly, Hugo decides that she’s going to tell her story to the world – the truth about the marriages, the scandals and all of the drama that was suspected but never confirmed. She chooses a magazine to write the feature, and even chooses the journalist, a woman named Monique. She makes it clear she will only tell her story to this one specific reporter. But why? What is Hugo’s motivation, and how did she select this writer?

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is about the price of fame, and specifically the cost of living up to an image that people have of you that may not be true. Hugo pays the price over and over, only learning too late that her one precious life was being wasted by her dishonesty.

I think it would have been hard for any book to live up to the hype around The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Like all of Reid’s novels, it’s immensely readable and entertaining. You get sucked in, and the pages fly by. Hugo is an interesting character, and there are several surprises along the way as she tells her story to Monique in a series of meetings in her New York apartment. But in the end this one felt a little flat for me. Things happened quickly – relationships, marriages, deaths – and it all felt rushed and shallow. It was an interesting story, but devoid of depth and detail. I enjoyed Reid’s other two books more, because they really analyzed what the characters were thinking and let events unfold slowly and meticulously.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo¬†is absolutely beloved among many readers and my not-as-glowing review feels like blasphemy. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an enjoyable read and I’m glad I sought it out. It just wasn’t my favorite book – or even favorite TJR book – of the year.

ONE TRUE LOVES by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s One True Loves has an irresistible premise.

Emma and Jesse are high school sweethearts from Boston who stay together through college and move out to California together after they graduate. They are adventurous spirits who love to travel, and are glad to have escaped the predictable lives their parents had planned for them. They get married, and on the eve of their first anniversary, Jesse goes on a helicopter trip in Alaska to take photos. The helicopter he is on disappears, and his body is never found. Emma, heartbroken, moves back home to Boston and gives up her adventurous life to take over her parents’ bookstore. She reconnects with an old high school friend, Sam, and they end up falling in love and getting engaged a few years after Jesse’s disappearance. All is going well until one night when Emma’s phone rings… and it’s Jesse.

What to do? She’s in love with two men, and feels loyalty and responsibility to both of them, but she of course has to pick one. One True Loves is about Jesse’s re-entry into Emma’s life and how she comes to a decision about which man to pick.

So One True Loves isn’t perfect. It’s repetitive – Emma says the same things about both men over and over – and there are aspects that are really unrealistic, most revolving around Jesse’s return. (Also, three years on a rock island?) I also think that Reid favored one man over the other, making Emma’s wrenching choice just a little less wrenching.

But damn if this wasn’t a really addictive read. I finished it in a few days and I was very, very eager to find out who Emma picked. This is my second Taylor Jenkins Reid in the last seven books. There is something about her characters that I really like – they are relatable and compelling, especially the women. This novel wasn’t quite as good as After I Do, but I still liked it. When I got to the end, the premise seemed more outlandish than at the start, but I certainly enjoyed it while I was reading it.

Who will Emma pick? The soul mate she mourned for three years, or the man who helped her get her life back?

You’ll have to read One True Loves to find out.

AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel After I Do opens, married couple Lauren and Ryan are having a fight that many couples might find familiar: they can’t find their car in the Dodgers Stadium and, tired after a long game, they each blame the other for not remembering where it was. This fight, while insignificant, winds up being the catalyst in the couple’s mutual confession that they are both miserable. Their relationship started out strong – romantic and passionate – but after ten years, they are each resentful, lonely and very unhappy. They decide to take a year off from their relationship, with no contact during that time, to decide whether they want to try to fight for their marriage or split permanently.

After I Do is told from Lauren’s perspective, and readers aren’t privy to Ryan’s side of things. Reid takes us through the days leading up to and immediately following the separation, and they are dark indeed. Despite her unhappiness with Ryan, Lauren is devastated over the demise of her marriage. I liked this book because it is realistic and sad and doesn’t hold back at all. You can really imagine this playing out. We see how the relationship broke down over time, the almost imperceptible shifts that led to the distance between the previously happy couple.

Lauren’s family plays supporting roles in the book – her divorced but dating mom, her single and proud-of-it sister, her feisty but possibly dying grandmother, and her commitment-phobic brother who ends up getting someone pregnant on a one night stand. The secondary characters here were less compelling; they seemed like stock characters that I’ve read about in other books. But the Lauren-Ryan relationship was fresh and original, and I felt invested in them and wanted to see where they ended up.

Speaking of endings, this one was a little too tidy.

Overall I liked After I Do quite a bit. Lots of incisive observations about marriage and relationships, written in a smart and realistic style. Don’t dismiss this one as chick lit, as there is more to it than that. I am intrigued by this author and have sought out another of Reid’s novels.