Culture Pick: Taylor Jenkins Reid is a great way to get into historical fiction

Zara Morgan, Contributing Writer

If you’ve recently tried to branch out in reading historical fiction, chances are you have heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reid is a New York Times best-selling author based in Los Angeles with stories that are notably centered with people of color and individuals in the LGBTQ community. Reid is best known for writing historical fiction novels “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “Daisy Jones and The Six.”

Reid has a way of making you nostalgic for moments in time you’ve possibly never lived in.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

In 2017, Reid published her first historical fiction novel taking place in and around the 1950s titled “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” The novel surrounds “the fictional Old Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo, who at age 79 gives a final interview to an unknown journalist, Monique Grant,” according to Wikipedia

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is by far Reid’s most popular book. It gained a lot of attention from readers because the book is an accessible gateway into the genre of historical fiction. Additionally, Reid has a great talent for subverting expectations and keeping readers entertained. 

Many of Reid’s books contain formats that play around with timelines and do not follow a linear order. The decision to play around with the written order of events adds a layer of dramatic irony that keeps the reader interested in filling in the gaps. 

Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” “Daisy Jones and the Six” and “Malibu Rising” are all historical fiction that take place in the same universe with each having references to each other. For example, in “Malibu Rising,” band member Warren Rhodes from “Daisy Jones and the Six” is mentioned to have been seen at a party by one of the main characters. 

The fact that all of her most recent novels have taken place in the same universe adds a layer of depth to each of the books that make readers pay attention just that much more, as they guess which character the next book will be about or revisit their beloved favorites from previous works. 

“Daisy Jones and the Six”

“Daisy Jones and the Six” is written in an oral history following the rise and fall of a fictional band in the 70s. Daisy Jones is coming of age in LA in the late sixties, partying at clubs with hopes of making a career in the music industry. The Six is a band led by the extremely talented Billy Dunne, who goes a little too far with drugs and partying on the road after learning his girlfriend Camila is pregnant with his child. 

According to GoodReads, “Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together.” 

“Daisy Jones and the Six” tells a story of addiction, friendship, love and rock ’n’ roll. The book discusses the themes of wanting something one can’t have along with understanding when one has hit their limit. 

Even though you can’t listen to the songs being played while reading the book, the descriptions of the music make the reader feel like they can. Additionally, if you read the book on audiobook, each character has their own voice actor which adds just another layer of depth to an already thought provoking book. 

Like all of Reid’s other books, this one will make you laugh and cry, but will ultimately leave you on a high note. 

The book is currently being adapted into a limited series for Hulu and has no set release date as of now. However, filming was reported to have been wrapped up in May 2022. 

“Malibu Rising” 

“Malibu Rising” is a story of the four famous Riva siblings, alternating between the present time of August 1983 and their childhood. The four Riva siblings are children of the famous singer, Mick Riva, and each have gained their own respective fame through surfing, modeling, photography and everything in between. 

In this story, Mick Riva is already a familiar face to those who are avid readers of Reid’s novels. Mick Riva made his first appearance as one of the seven husbands of Old Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo in Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” Additionally, Mick Riva made a notable appearance in “Daisy Jones and the Six” during a house party. 

Each of the characters in this novel are struggling with their own issues, but throughout the book, they work their problems out as a family. 

Reid has a way of helping readers feel like they are in the moment with the characters. Notably, many of the characters in the book are surfers, and Reid has found a great way of giving the experience of surfing to readers without them ever having to step foot on the beach. 

“Malibu Rising” tells the story of one last epic party of the summer where each member of the Riva family must decide what parts of their life they will keep from their predecessors and which parts they will leave in the past. 

Reid and the Romance Genre 

Before Reid started writing historical fiction, she wrote romance novels. Her romance novels are as follows: “Forever Interrupted,”After I Do,” “Maybe in Another Life” and “One True Loves.” Reid is an expert at taking romantic tropes such as love at first sight, long lost family and love triangles and turning them on their heads. 

“One True Loves” is currently being adapted into a movie directed by Andy Fickman, director of “She’s the Man” and “The Game Plan,” and is set to release in 2023.

“One True Loves” tells the story of Emma Blair. who falls in love with and marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. Unfortunately, Jesse goes missing during a flight over the Pacific. Years later, Jesse is found to be alive after Emma has already rebuilt her life with her fiance Sam, and “Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves,” according to GoodReads.

“Carrie Soto is Back” 

“Carrie Soto is Back” is set to be published on Aug. 30 and follows Carrie Soto, a tennis player that has come out of retirement when she discovers a newer player has stolen her record. The book will take place in the same universe as Reid’s other historical fiction novels, with the character being mentioned in “Malibu Rising.” 

Reid has a way of making you yearn for moments in a time you’ve never been to, and her work is bringing the historical fiction genre into the mainstream literary world.