Book Reviews

Book Review: Mozart’s Starling

By Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Published May 2017

276 pages

Let me give a little background on how I wound up reading this book.  I was browsing my library for basic research on a novel idea I’m mulling over.  While Mozart isn’t the subject of the novel, it is set in Vienna during his lifetime, and I figured I might find useful information in a Mozart biography.  This title caught my eye so I checked it out and brought it home, only to find this really isn’t a biography on Mozart.  It’s so much more: biography, philosophy, ornithology.  Subjects I never thought I had an interest in or the need to know more about. In short, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

I nearly put the book down when I realized it wasn’t going to fulfill my research goals, but the author’s style was so delightful and interesting, I kept reading.  She covers a lot of ground in this book – from Mozart buying a pet starling (because it sang a line from his own piano concerto to him), to the scourge of invasive starlings in America, to raising her own pet starling in an attempt to gauge how Mozart might have interacted with his hundreds of years ago, and even musings on birdsong and language. 

I had no idea starlings were so numerous in the United States, nor did I know their history.  In all honesty, I could probably have an entire murmuration of starlings fly over my house and wouldn’t recognize them (although in hindsight, I’m fairly certain they used a murmuration in Matrix Resurrection).  I’ll be keeping an eye out for them in the future.  Apparently they shouldn’t be too hard to find.

The author’s experience with her own pet starling, Carmen, is intertwined with the birds’ history, scientific studies on their mimicry and, of course, Mozart.  The subject matter dips and soars from subject to subject in ways that are not always obviously related but results in a coherent structure.   The prose is lovely as well.

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you need a break from your normal reading fare and want to try creative non-fiction, I highly recommend this one.

I rated this book four stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.


“Mozart’s Starling” as interpreted by Wombo Dream

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