Published by Troubador Publishing Limited on May 28, 2021
Genres: Adult, Fiction
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How do you survive when a lucky break turns out to be the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Nick Hunter is about to find out. He made a colossal mistake when he was barely out of school and now his whole world is in jeopardy as he races against the clock to save his family and his business from disaster.
In 1979 Hunter heads to London, and a squat in Notting Hill, with dreams of musical success. With his fellow squatters, he forms a band and they record four short songs before tensions and misunderstandings drive them apart. Nick lies and tells the record company the songs are all his own work. Six years later one of the songs, Let’s Fly, is picked as the soundtrack to a blockbuster movie and Nick makes a fortune in royalties.
In 2017, Nick, his wife Sam and daughter Jen now live in the house opposite his old squat. His successful gig economy, online food business is about to go public, but someone is on his back. Nick is in massive debt and the heavies are closing in. Disasters are befalling the business just at the wrong time. Then Sam is snatched and, with a price on her head, Nick must come up with the money or lose her. With his life and family on the line – and just days to play with - Nick has to stop whoever is destroying his life and come clean with those he loves in order to hang on to everything he holds dear.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
There comes a time in every person’s life where they’ve got to put their hand on their hearts and admit they’ve cocked up. How that person then deals with that admission usually dictates how the rest of their lives are going to play out. Unfortunately for Nick, the main protagonist of Let’s Fly, his inability to truly recognise his failings means he keeps repeating them over and over again. As the Spanish philosopher, Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it“. And boy – does Nick repeat it.
1979. 18-year-old Nick lies in his private school dorm, waiting for not only the end of term but a sign from his girlfriend saying she’s ready to go on their much-anticipated trip. What he gets is a hastily rushed ‘Dear John’ note informing him she won’t be going. Initially thinking that something is wrong, realisation eventually dawns that Nick has been dumped. How Nick handles this bombshell is pivotal to the rest of his life and that of many others.
Instead of retiring home to maybe lick his wounds and stare at the ceiling for the Summer, Nick decides he’s going to show everybody and run off to London like the ‘big boys’. Dragging fellow student Luke with him (almost literally – the situation is the dictionary definition of ‘railroaded’) Nick sets off to London in search of punk. Yep. Nick wants to show the world by emulating the likes of Joe Strummer. Unfortunately for Nick, he only has a minuscule amount of talent compared to the wonderful Strummer.
What Nick lacks in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm, and soon he’s found a squat and put the band together. Within two months, they’ve played a gig, written and recorded an album and promptly split back up. The cause of the split is mainly due to Nick’s selfishness and refusal to see that his ambition is harming those around him. This tunnel vision drives everyone away, causing one friend to make a drastic decision. Sick of his attitude among other things, the band record the album as one last favour to Nick and then go their separate ways, wanting nothing to do with the band or with Nick.
Five years later, when the song Let’s Fly gets picked up for the soundtrack of a Richard Curtis-esque romantic comedy, Nick is hurtled into the spotlight. The song becomes a huge hit, earning him a tidy six-figure sum and garnering him loads of publicity. Even though Nick didn’t write the song on his own (it was a true band effort) the animosity that night in the studio led to only Nick being credited. And credit equals royalties. Despite his best efforts to contact the others and share the money, they all turn him away.
2017. Middle-aged Nick is a business genius, building up his food delivery into a hot deal on the stock market. On the verge of floating as an IPO, he should be content and centred. Guess what? Nick’s a neurotic mess who’s still blaming everyone for his troubles. He’s in debt to the Russians, doubted by his wife, and investigated due to poor treatment of his workers. Outbursts follow in the boardroom and embarrassingly on National tv and radio, causing his backers and board to doubt his suitability to lead his company onto the stock floor. On top of all that he’s being targeted by an old acquaintance.
What then follows is mistake after mistake, mainly fuelled by Nick’s arrogance and self-indulgence. In case you haven’t guessed – I didn’t like this lead character one bit. His use and abuse of those around him, his failure to accept his mistakes and his inability to learn means that developing empathy for this mc is a chore and highly unlikely for anyone with a soul. Belief has to be suspended that this one man would continually mess up in this manner, over decades, and no one has ever told him to stop.
This is probably because Nick is surrounded by equally weak characters, most of whom are introduced in a really rushed, frantic way and never truly fleshed out. As Let’s Fly is told from Nick’s perspective (and he’s completely unreliable anyway) we only experience how he sees them. Women are their mere physical forms and the male character’s purpose is whatever Nick can exploit them for.
Let’s Fly was promoted as a Nick Hornby type of novel – a romp through the punk life of Notting Hill. The issue for me is that is only the first third of the novel. Also, what’s presented is a very romanticised depiction of squat life that just didn’t ring true. Instead, the majority of the novel reads like a lighter version of Irvine Welsh as we slowly witness the undoing of a middle-aged man clearly punching above his weight.