Landline must surely be one of the most highly anticipated novels of the year (that is, unless Rainbow Rowell announces her third young adult novel soon!). I’ve read Attachments, Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, and so I was super excited to get the chance to read Landline a little early. Of course, I started it straight away.
Georgie McCool tells her husband Neal that she won’t be able to visit his family in Omaha for Christmas because she has to work, but as soon as he leaves for the airport with their children, she worries whether their relationship is over. They haven’t really spoken about it – Neal is the quiet, brooding, silent-type – but that night, Georgie discovers an unexpected way to communicate with him. It’s not magic or time-travel – Georgie isn’t quite sure what it is – but she has managed to talk to Neal, fifteen years in the past, through an old yellow landline phone. Is Georgie meant to work through her marriage – or were they even meant to be together at all?
It’s an odd moment when you’re reading a novel and realise that you don’t really like any of the characters. Does it matter? Sometimes it can ruin a book for you, but sometimes it can make you appreciate the fact that actually not everyone is likeable and that likeability is simply not the point. Rainbow Rowell once again wonderfully portrays individual and personal experiences in a way that means you get incredibly close to the main characters and almost feel like you’re going through it, whatever ‘it’ may be, with them. Georgie is an incredibly stressful and intense character because although she’s in love with Neal, she’s not sure if that’s enough to keep them together. Reading about Georgie is a bit like watching your friend have a breakdown and not being able to give them advice because they’re a fictional character. If I were a character in Landline, I would’ve told Georgie to pack her suitcase and head to Omaha, but sometimes people become so wrapped up in their own misery that they fail to act rationally.
Perhaps it’s just because I enjoy children’s fiction, but I adored Noomi and Alice, especially Noomi’s funny and realistic addiction to ‘meow’-ing at any opportunity, even mid-sentence, and Alice’s young ‘I can’t possibly empathise with you, mother’ attitude. Georgie is an imperfect mother, without textbook motherly feelings, and that’s what’s so interesting about her relationship with the two girls. But that’s not only what’s so unique about Landline. Although the ‘time jumps’ (let’s call them that) take a little getting used to, I thought it was a fascinating way of seeing how relationships alter over the years and how it differs for people in their 20s and 40s because their lives are different. I am also the sort of the person who appreciates hindsight; I constantly wonder ‘what if?’. What if I hadn’t met that person? What if I had or hadn’t done or said that thing? Would I be happier? But Georgie has the opportunity to see for herself whether she’d be happier – does she take it?
Rainbow Rowell has a talent for capturing the way people think and act so accurately – especially when it’s irrational – and even though Attachments is still my favourite adult novel written by her, Landline is a worthy follow-up that will get you thinking the foundations on which your own relationships are based, laughing and crying along the way.
Published: 8th July 2014 (US) 3rd July 2014 (UK)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (US) Orion (UK)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!