Guest Review: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Welcome to another installment of the United States of Books! See full details here. Today we will visit California with Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion. Entertainment Weekly say’s “Didion’s 1970 classic, about a woman and a marriage breaking down, is both an ode to the freedom of the freeways and a eulogy for dreams shriveled by the sun.”

playitasitlaysSYNOPSIS (From Goodreads.com)

A ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation, the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and haunts the reader. Set in a place beyond good and evil – literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul – it remains more than three decades after its original publication a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis and stunning in the still-startling intensity of its prose.

REVIEW by By Elisha at Rainy Day Reviews

I don’t think this book is your typical read, like a James Patterson or Jodi Picoult … not saying they are typical because they are amazing and talented authors. But Joan Didion is not a Jodi Picoult type author. Joan grabs you with this story from the very beginning, waiting for the other shoe to drop. With school, my child, and life in general, it took me a couple weeks to read this “can’t put this book down” book because I wanted to see if this ‘sad female with nothing but time and money’ would do something with herself and stop feeling sorry for herself. I did have empathy for her as the story continued because as the reader can tell she is truly sad and can’t pull herself out of it.

You want to go into the book and shake her but hug her at the same time. There was twists and turns in this story I was not expecting but was pleasantly surprised by. I tend to be a cynical person (in the Miranda from Sex in the City kind of way) so when I started reading Maria’s character, I thought oh good Lord…but then, something happens (no spoilers!) This was a memorable read, for sure. It is also one that I would recommend to others.


  • I had never heard of this one.

  • Suko http://www.sukosnotebook

    I enjoyed this guest review! I’d like to read this novel from 1970.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    Sounds like a good one if it grabs you from the very beginning.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    The character must be well written if you want to shake her and hug her.