There are many beloved literary universes, from Middle Earth, brilliantly woven by JRR Tolkien, to CS Lewis’s Narnia, a world accessible through a wardrobe. But how about a totality that completely hinges on one man’s philandering ways? Ask, and Taylor Jenkins Reid delivers.
The beloved author — who’s the mind behind bestselling books like “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “One True Loves” — anchors many of her books around those in the spotlight. In particular, her four most recent novels all investigate the plights of fame and feature cameos (for the most part) from a fictional singer in the vein of Rod Stewart. That man’s name? Mick Riva.
Mick is introduced, first, in “Evelyn Hugo” — a minor character, at best. He pops up again, albeit briefly, in “Daisy Jones & The Six,” which was just adapted into a Prime Video streaming series starring Riley Keough and Sam Claflin. TJR readers finally get a full backstory for Mick in 2021 novel “Malibu Rising,” but Mick’s journey doesn’t end there. His universe also encompasses Reid’s most recent release, “Carrie Soto Is Back.”
With the first few episodes of “Daisy Jones & The Six” now streaming, it remains unclear if Mick will pop up on the small screen. At the very least, we can expect a portrayal of Mick in the announced “Evelyn Hugo” film adaptation.
Keep reading for a breakdown of Mick’s presence in Reid’s books — but be warned, the descriptions contain spoilers.
Mick Riva in “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”
We’re first introduced to Mick in “Evelyn Hugo,” with the performer making his appearance in the section entitled “Gullible Mick Riva.”
Mick proclaims his intentions to marry movie star Evelyn in an interview after seeing her film “Boute-en-Train” three times. He invites Evelyn to watch him perform, and she reluctantly agrees to a date after gossip columns begin speculating that her public friendship with fellow actor Celia St. James is really a romance (which, well, it is).
She goes into the get-together with a plan: she’ll manipulate Mick into eloping with her, so she can displace the attention and speculation following her and Celia. Eventually, she will move toward getting the marriage annulled.
Evelyn then tricks Mick into a Vegas trip, where she gets him drunk and positions it so the quickie nuptials are his idea (at least he thinks). After consummating the marriage, Evelyn successfully corners Mick into deploying his classic exit strategy speech: “I’m not a good guy, baby. You don’t deserve a guy like me, I don’t deserve a girl like you,” he tells her, before suggesting the annulment — exactly what Evelyn wanted.
Mick Riva in “Daisy Jones & The Six”
About midway through the book, ’70s rock star Daisy ghosts on a recording session with her band while having “some people over” to her cottage at the Chateau Marmont.
“It got later into the night and somehow Mick Riva shows up,” Daisy says in the book, stating that Mick has been “married however many times” and had several children. Recounting the evening in the book’s faux-interview transcript, Daisy says Mick “partied like he was nineteen” and notes that he could “really get a party out of control.” And he does exactly that, growing the gathering to a raucous party and, at some point, making out with two girls that Simone says “couldn’t have been more than sixteen.”
Mick Riva in “Malibu Rising”
Rather than a secondary player, as he was in the prior books, “Malibu Rising” finally gives Reid readers a full look into the heartbreaking musician. The book follows Mick’s children — Nina, Hud, Jay, and Kit — as well as his rise to fame and the despair he left in his wake, particularly with his first wife, June.
Mick met June as a teenager when he was only dreaming of bright lights and big stages. “It’s me and you, baby,” he tells June when he proposes. Of course, that became far from the truth. Mick hits it big as the couple’s children are born, and he becomes a professional at breaking his promises while on tour — skipping births and conducting numerous affairs. In fact, he impregnates another woman, who eventually dumps baby Hud on their doorstep, not ready to be a single mother.
June raises the baby as her own, forgiving Mick, again, for his indiscretion. Mick eventually falls for another woman, this time leaving June to be with her. The marriage is ill-fated though, and he returns to June — who, sadly, takes him back. After welcoming Kit, though, Mick drops the family once again, plunging June into a depression and a drinking problem that eventually leads to her drowning death. Eldest Nina becomes the other children’s guardian, and Mick disappears from their lives altogether — until 1983.
Mick shows up at Nina’s infamous annual party at her Malibu home, intent on reconciling with his now-grown children.”I want to see if we can . . . be part of one another’s lives,” he says. “I’ve missed you all so much.” Mick acknowledges his poor parenting and absence, even acquiescing, “I’ve made mistakes.” They don’t bite.
“You are a big somebody to the world, Dad. We all know that. . . . But let’s be clear about on thing, you are not anybody’s father,” Nina says. Ultimately, the siblings — and a potential additional child of Mick’s, Casey — tell the singer there’s no room in their lives for him. The book ends with Mick carelessly flicking a cigarette into brush and sparking the Malibu fire of 1983.
Mick Riva in “Carrie Soto Is Back”
Nina’s ex-husband, tennis player Brandon Randall, ties Mick to this latest book, though he receives only a quick mention early in “Carrie Soto.” As the titular character, a fellow tennis champion, laments that she’s interested in the then-married Brandon, her father makes the connection to Mick. Ultimately, she and Brandon begin an affair that’s part of “Malibu Rising.” The romance continues despite Nina catching on, though after Brandon and Nina’s split, he ends it with Carrie.