Print Reviews
This Bird Has Flown

This Bird Has Flown

Susanna Hoffs

Little, Brown and Company

Susanna Hoffs’ debut novel is a light, breezy romantic comedy that takes the reader from Las Vegas to London with a cast of eccentric characters, comedic situations, steamy erotic scenes, and lots of music thrown into the mix. This Bird Has Flown will delight any reader looking for a novel that moves quickly and won’t bog down with heavy themes or dialogue. At 358 pages, it’s not quite the book you would take to the beach for a weekend, but one that you settle into every evening over the course of a week.

The story of singer/musician Jane Start moves chronologically over several months as she meets the perfect man, loses him, then gets him back. The book reads like a typical Hallmark TV Movie of the Week, which is convenient, since the film rights were sold prior to the book’s release. I assume they are in pre-production now in time for summer. The novel was timed to coincide with Hoffs’ new album, The Deep End, which came out April 7. Does this mean Susanna will sing on her book tour or read chapters during her concerts?

This Bird Has Flown from Little, Brown and Company
courtesy of Kid Logic Media
This Bird Has Flown from Little, Brown and Company

Briefly, the novel is about musician Jane Start who had one mega-hit at age 23 covering an obscure song written by the rock-god genius Jonesy (I’m guessing this is meant to be Prince). Her sophomore album flopped. Her fans deserted her. The label dropped her. Only her manager and best friend, Pippa, stayed with her, finding Jane bizarre, fetish-like gigs to play. These “performances” don’t pay the bills, and ten years later we find Jane living with her parents and licensing her one hit to a Dutch toilet-paper commercial. Life couldn’t get lower.

Pippa invites Jane to spend some time at her flat in London to work on some new songs. On the flight over the Atlantic, life turns around for Jane as she is seated next to Tom Hardy, Oxford professor and perfect man. Sparks fly immediately for both of them.

The novel follows all the established beats of a rom-com. If you’ve watched one Meg Ryan movie in the ’90s, you know the path Jane and Tom take. But as a book, Susanna takes the reader one level deeper. This story is all interior dialogue. We read all of Jane’s hidden anxieties, self-doubts, and self-defeating internal monologues. Conflict comes from dialogue, and here we see Jane being her own worst enemy. All her second guesses are laid bare for the reader. Fear is not in her vocabulary, but sadly, bad decision making is. We see Jane jump from one bad decision to another as she struggles to keep her career alive while bemoaning all the humiliations that are a direct result of those decisions. Yet, she keeps moving forward, taking all those questioning voices in her head along for the ride.

Hoffs tidies up all the loose ends into a neat bow as the book nears its conclusion. All the nutty people Jane has met from Vegas to London end up serving her in some positive way. Jane successfully restarts her career and gets the man she loves.

The book is dedicated to all music lovers. Specifically, all music lovers who worship the Beatles and the Stones and a few other British Invasion groups. There are many movie and musical references scattered throughout the book. The chapter titles are song titles. “This Bird Has Flown” is itself taken from the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” a song written by John Lennon about an affair he was having at the time and his fantasy of burning down his lover’s house.

In context of the novel, I sense the book’s title is more about Jane’s assertiveness at a time when she finds her voice (pun intended), finally freeing herself of her anxieties and doubts and renewing her career, her life, and her sense of self. Just my opinion. Honestly, I leave up to you, reader, to discover for yourself.

Susanna HoffsThis Bird Has Flown

Featured image of Susanna Hoffs by Shervin Lainez


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