Jane spends several days in London, pining for the one she thinks might have gotten away, until she finally gets a text message from him, asking her to visit him in Oxford. She does, and the two hit it off — so much so that she essentially moves in with him, accompanying him to events at his university, and befriending some of his colleagues.
She also gets some exciting career news: Jonesy, the author of her one hit, wants her to play with him at a special show at Royal Albert Hall. Jane isn’t sure she wants to go through with it; she’s been afflicted with stage fright for most of her career. And she’s growing used to the idea of living with her new eternal flame, far from the spotlight: “Could it be the life I wanted was the one in England, with Tom? To write, record, perform in small venues — a folk singer’s life?” But things get complicated with Tom — Jane learns that he’s got a secret, one that causes her to see him in a different light.
Novels like This Bird Has Flown succeed or fail on the strength of their protagonists, and Jane is an unforgettable one. She’s refreshingly three-dimensional, aware of her own faults, frustrated over the difficult time she has getting over her ex-boyfriend. She’s self-deprecating, but knows she’s talented; Hoffs never makes her the butt of jokes. The reader sees her as a friend, not an object of pity, which is crucial to the novel’s success.
Tom, too, is a fully fleshed character, not the kind of stock love interest that Hugh Grant might have played in a 1990s movie. The relationship between the two is unforced and natural, and their dialogue together never descends into the too-cute-by-half banter that sometimes marks contemporary love stories.