Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Book Review: This Bird Has Flown

Jane Start is thirty-three, broke, and recently single. Ten years prior, she had a hit song—written by world-famous superstar Jonesy—but Jane hasn’t had a breakout since. Now she's living out of four garbage bags at her parents’ house, reduced to performing to Karaoke tracks in Las Vegas. Rock bottom.

But when her longtime manager Pippa sends Jane to London to regroup, she’s seated next to an intriguing stranger on the flight—the other Tom Hardy, an elegantly handsome Oxford professor of literature. Jane is instantly smitten by Tom, and soon, truly inspired. But it’s not Jane’s past alone that haunts her second chance at stardom, and at love. Is Tom all that he seems? And can Jane emerge from the shadow of Jonesy's earlier hit, and into the light of her own?

This Bird Has Flown is the debut novel from Susanna Hoffs (singer/guitarist and founding member of the Bangles). Prior to its April 4, 2023, release date, Little Brown and Company provided an early galley for review.

I had heard awhile back an interview from Susanna where she mentioned that she was writing a novel, so I was very pleased to see this one pop up. I am a big fan of her music and was eager to see what she could do in this area. A glance at the chapter titles and the dedication made me smile. This indeed was going to be a novel for lovers of music like me.

For a first novel, it is solidly put together. The narration is clear and easy to follow. She does not get bogged down in exposition, allowing the background story elements to flow naturally from the action. I appreciated that the story did not always go down the easy and predictable routes. This is very reflective of life itself and makes the story feel plausible and real. Her characters are accessible and serve a purpose in the overall telling of Jane's story. Susanna's ability to draw upon her own life experience further helps add to the credibility of Jane's career, especially when she is performing. As we always say in writing group, "write what you know".

I look forward to Susanna's next book, whatever it is. I hope that she finds more itches that this kind of writing scratches for her.

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