Chart Highlights for Women Writers
Failosophy by Elizabeth Day Review by Emily Simms
To those unaware of Elizabeth Day’s immensely popular and brilliant podcast, How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, she is an eponymous journalist, novelist and all-round great role model who redefines society’s notion of failure. Since 2018, she has conversed with guests from all walks of life. From poets to philosophers and popstars to campaigners, all share three failures which run across a spectrum of severity and theme.
Although a delicate size, the handbook for “when things go wrong” has been expertly written so that every sentence holds value and purpose. The handbook is interspersed with some of the most meaningful quotes that her guests have shared and acutely relate to the particular failure principle. The accumulation of everything Day has learnt from her guests and her own personal experiences, form her seven failure principles which guide the book’s narrative. In being her most authentic self and embracing vulnerability, Day allows others to tell their truest story, as well as her own.
Everyone has suffered loss in some way. Whether that be a loved one, a job or the faraway structure of how our lives used to be, it is more than enough for us to just be. During a time in which many of us want to shed the ghost of last year’s expectations, we find ourselves starting off the new year with three months of lockdown. Life isn’t halted and time still continues. We need to be kinder to ourselves in admitting that our goals and resolutions may not happen and that’s not a negative reflection of us. In the words of Day, “learning how to fail in life actually means learning how to succeed.”
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Review by Robyn Hewson
For my first book of the new year, I decided to pick a novel which would transport me far away from 2021. In her latest bestseller, Jenkins Reid takes us on a journey through 1970s America, where notorious rock band Daisy Jones and the Six are taking the world by storm.
Through interviews with each of the members, the remarkable story of the band’s rise to fame is unravelled and the rivalry, lust and jealousy between the members is exposed. Writing the story from the perspective of multiple characters allows Reid to create an intricate, layered narrative which holds the reader’s interest until the very last page. She delves into the darker elements of the band’s story, and her vivid portrayal of drug addiction, recovery and relapse is particularly compelling.
There is a striking sense of duality between the characters in the novel. Reid represents Billy and Daisy as a mirror image of one another, while Karen and Camila are presented as opposing figures. Yet, they both make sacrifices to achieve happiness.
I would highly recommend reading Daisy Jones and the Six before the eagerly awaited TV adaptation graces our screens in 2021. The novel provides the perfect dose of escapism to transport you away from our current reality and into the intoxicating world of 1970s rock ‘n’ roll.
When I finished the novel, I found myself wishing Daisy Jones and the Six were a real band, whose songs I could play on repeat. To me, that’s evidence of Reid’s superb storytelling and I can’t wait to see these characters brought to life even further on screen. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo Review by Alex Haywood
Desire is a fickle concept that is not easy to capture in text. It can be frantic and overwhelming, comforting and violent, fleeting and enduring. Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women is an ode to female desire in all its forms, both candid and vicious. Join Sloane, Maggie and Lina in this raw and sensitive exploration of sexual politics, as their stories are told without embellishment. Recounted in alternating chapters, Taddeo has woven a piece of non-fiction that reads like a novel. She knows her subjects like they are her own creations. A decade in the making, Three Women is infused with yearning, abandonment and the turbulent truths of womanhood.
Taddeo does not shy away from the helplessness of sex, exposing the dynamics of power that are evident when we compare our fantasies to reality. Here, I must include a trigger warning for the dealing of rape and sexual assault. After all, where there is desire there can also be destruction. Jumping from polyamory to affairs, I defy anyone, not just women, who says they cannot identify in some way, with these stories. Three Women is not simply enjoyable, rather, it is essential. This is the kind of book that you’ll be thinking about for months after you finish reading – just long enough for Taddeo’s debut fiction Animal to come out later this year.