Tuesday 5 August 2014

Landline review

Rainbow Rowell
July 3rd 2014
Orion Books

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Okay, so I'll admit that most of the reason why I read this book was because it was by Rainbow Rowell. Like with Attachments, it's not the sort of thing I would usually read. I think even more so in the case of Landline because it's really about marriage and all that jazz, which is just not the sort of thing I am usually interested in reading. However, I do trust Rainbow Rowell, and considering that I've liked/loved all of her other books, I thought I'd probably like this one a lot, too. And I did, so! I didn't love it as much as Fangirl, but let's be real here. I haven't loved any of Rainbow's books like Fangirl (nor any other books, really. That book is damn special to me.)

Landline is a book about Georgie McCool (yes, that is her real name. I *wish* my name was McCool.), a TV writer, whose marriage is struggling a bit when we meet her in the book. However, after her husband, Neal, goes on a family trip to Nebraska (which Georgie does not go on because of her work committments which was kind of the last straw for Neal), Georgie is somehow able to connect to the Neal of past using the landline at her parents house. So that's why I don't write summaries in my reviews. Long story short, breaking marriage, magic phone. That's pretty much all you need to know. 

There were lots of things that I liked about Landline, not least the magic phone itself. I just think that it's such a cool and simple concept that works so well in the context of the story, and I love that it's just this one weird, magical thing that happens at this one time. And also because it appeals to the time travel geek in me, because even if it's not literal time travel, the sort of direct interaction between past and present is good enough for me. Plus I loved the fact that, as a result of this and the structure of the story, really, we only get to see present Neal at the very beginning and ending of the book. The reader really only gets to know him as he was in the past, not just through the phone calls, but also because a lot of the novel is Georgie thinking about her relationship with him retrospectively. I also loved the parallels between the point of the past that Past Neal was from, the last time their relationship had been in trouble, and the present, and the fact that these phone interactions were what had changed them and affected their relationship both times. Past and present. I just have a lot of feelings about time, guys. 

I also really appreciated that it was super Rainbow Rowell, you know? Like, she just has this brilliant, distinct style of writing that somehow always manages to make me care about these characters even if they're in situations that I can't relate to or have little interest in. Which is a skill that most good writers have, I guess, but you know what I mean about Rainbow, if you have ever read a Rainbow book before. As such, I found myself rooting a lot for Georgie and Neal. Which, I guess it wouldn't be great if I found myself actively rooting against them, but whatever. I can't really explain properly about Rainbow's writing and the way it just so perfectly encapsulates the characters. You know exactly who these people are, you know their flaws and their good parts (what is the opposite of flaws? There must be a better way of putting it, but my brain can't think of it right now apparently.), you just know them. So I actually found Georgie to be a really engaging character, as well as Neal and Seth and Georgie's kids (sooooo cute), and the rest of Georgie's family. 

Even though I did really like the book, it lacked that magic quality (for me) that some books just have that make them favourites for me. Which is annoying, because I like to know why I did or didn't like a book, rather than just having an inexplicable feeling of love for a certain book for no apparent reason, but you know. I think the only thing which I actively disliked was that one scene. You know, with the pugs. I mean, it was fine, but COME ON. That easter egg (sort of?) at the end more than made up for it, though! 

So yeah, I really liked Landline a lot and would definitely recommend it to anyone who liked Rainbow's other books, or who maybe reads a lot of YA contemp and are looking for something slightly different, but that still has that same draw of a cute love story, even if it is from the other side of getting together. Getting back together? I don't know. It's good, is the point here.


  1. The only book I've read by Rainbow Rowell is Fangirl, but I am planning on changing that soon. Glad you liked Landline, even if it didn't have that magic spark. I was planning to read it at some point anyway, but I'm even more excited now after finding out about the easter egg. Great review, thanks!

  2. "she just has this brilliant, distinct style of writing that somehow always manages to make me care about these characters even if they're in situations that I can't relate to or have little interest in"

    Yes, exactly! RR is brilliant at this! Hence we will read (and likely love) anything and everything she writes. Only one of us has read LANDLINE so far, but she devoured it, and the rest are eagerly awaiting our turns!


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