Rock and roll queen Susanna Hoffs makes her debut as a fiction writer with the gutsy, tough, romantic and engaging This Bird Has Flown, all about a one-hit wonder who finds a chance at redemption – both romance and career wise - on a flight to England.
At thirty-three, Jane Start is washed up. Recently separated from her philandering ex-boyfriend (who is now set to marry the woman he cheated on her with), in ten years, she’s gone from the top of the charts with her hit “Can’t You See I Want You” to playing gigs-for-hire like a Las Vegas bachelor party. Worse yet, she lives with her parents, in their basement, out of garbage bags.
Enough is enough, and Jane’s lovely agent, Pippa More, wants more for her. They decide to fly off to England together so that Jane can soak up some inspiration and start writing songs again. When a gig offer from Jonesy – the mysterious and ridiculously talented megastar who penned Jane’s only hit - lands her a spot beside him at a Royal Albert Hall performance, it seems as If all of Jane’s problems might be over – in spite of her ongoing stage fright. It might even wind up in a world tour, if things go well.
On the airplane, inspiration arrives in the form of Tom Hardy – not the actor, but the Oxford professor of Literature who shares his name. Jane and Tom hit it off. But might the lingering memory of a mysterious ex-girlfriend from Tom’s past mean things are all not as rosy as Jane hopes they are? And if Jonesy expresses a deeper interest in Jane, will she be able to walk away?
This Bird Has Flown is not your average slice of women’s fiction; it’s wise, knowing, and has a lot of brio to it – a sense of Los Angeles with its glitter and bile hidden in its prose. It’s also sexy and funny and has good insight into the music world.
Yes, you’re going to note some parallels to Hoff’s real life here – Jane is short and Jewish, and so is she. She, too, had a big hit thanks to a talented, mysterious guitar genius with a controversial reputation who favors a single color (Prince wrote Manic Monday for Apollonia 6 but gave it to Hoffs and the Bangles after listening to the band’s major label debut record, All Over the Place, though the Bangles would go on to have many more hits than Jane ever did, many of them self-penned.). There’s plenty enough unique to Jane to make her engaging, enjoyable and fully different from Hoffs. She’s Bridget Jones’ far less awkward, tougher American cousin, and she’s a blast of fresh air in the fictional world.
That’s not to say that she doesn’t encounter the awkward. There’s the first date with Tom, which takes place beside a peaceful river at a university – where the rowing team and its tough-talking coxswain is practicing unexpectedly. There’s Jane freaking out over Tom’s black cat, Ophelia. But Tom himself is lovely, charming, sexually attuned to her, and erudite – but just when he seems perfect to the nth degree, we learn some secrets about his alleged ex (yes, if you don’t like quasi-cheating in your fiction this won’t be a book for you), which balances the narrative. But my favorite character is the emotional, stalwart Pippa, who loves Jane (and vice-versa) and also loves Jane’s brother, Will. Pippa hustles for her as hard as she can. Jane has a warm, wonderful support team built around her and I liked all of them.
This Bird Has Flown will be perfect for anyone looking for a solid novel to make you care, put a little tear in your eye, but which also knows how to make you laugh.
Buy it at: Amazon
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