11 hours 5 minutes | RandomHouse Audio | Historical | 6/1/2021
I guess this is my first ‘TikTok made me read it’ book.
I recently learned that is book is connected to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo so I’m not sure this was the best place to start with Reid but it came in first on my library holds. My experience with this book was like when you watch an amazing TV show you can’t stop talking about and then by the end you just get annoyed but still have to see how it ends.
In the beginning, I was enthralled by this dizzying Malibu set family saga. It opens in 1983 with the Riva siblings– the adult children of a famous singer, preparing for their annual party. The narrative goes back and forth between the prep for the Riva party and the Riva family history.
I used to really like the show Transparent and this book reminded me a lot of what I liked about that show; the peek into the dysfunctional lives of families that live in idealistic neighborhoods, the look at how intergenerational trauma moves in a family, and the complicated relationships among adult siblings.
I was particularly captivated by the story of the dutiful eldest daughter Nina Riva. She’s a model and surfer who is learning to not let life push her around. She’s earned her own fame as a magazine and calendar model, (which was such an 80’s thing) and struggles with the less glamorous side of being objectified.
But once the historical storyline catches up to the party storyline this book lost me. It devolves into a lot of cocaine-fueled melodrama and there were so many new character POVs thrown in that I couldn’t keep track of them. Then the ending kind of fizzled.
Julia Whelan delivers a seemingly effortless performance on this audiobook, she’s a go-to for me because I know she’ll always give a solid performance.
I do want to read more Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m thinking I may go back and read Seven Husbands and then maybe check out her older Women’s Fiction titles.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.