‘Malibu Rising’ – Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Riva family are a force to be reckoned with, and Malibu Rising shows us this group at a key moment in their lives. The format is quite simple: 24hours focused on the time around Nina Riva’s infamous annual party.

Having loved the complexity of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I can’t help but feel this was a gentler read. Though we watch moments of intense drama, it felt rather detached – as if I were watching some kind of documentary of the lives of the rich and famous (which we had, in book form).

The dynamics of this family group are everything. Part one introduces us to the family and build up to the party. We see Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit and learn a little about each of them/what they’re doing. These four have – after the death of their mother, June, and the well-documented abandonment by their father, pop star Mick – come to rely on one another.

Interspersed with the details of the four children we get the back story to Mick and June, and some elements of that were genuinely heart-breaking. Then we move to part two focusing on the hours of the party and how some of the strands resolve themselves in dramatic fashion.

While I really liked parts of this, the party scene was drawn out and exaggerated to the point of incredulity. It served to illustrate some aspects of the relationships between the family but it seemed to be about setting up a way of instigating a new start for certain characters. There were also some areas that were underdeveloped which I would have liked to see more of.

Closing the book I was struck by the sense of hope and optimism that ran through what was, for the most part, a book about very selfish people hurting each other. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I still enjoyed it.