Plot: Georgie McKool knows that her marriage is in trouble. But when she must cancel a Christmas trip to her mother-in-law’s home to work on a new sitcom, she is surprised that her husband takes their daughters and leaves without her. Unable to get a hold of Neal, she calls him on the old landline in her childhood bedroom and somehow reaches the Neal of 1998, during their first separation, before he proposed to her. Faced with this apparent magic, Georgie must decide if this is an opportunity to save her marriage, or prevent it.
This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Rebecca Lowman.
Since Eleanor & Park, I’ve become a true Rainbow Rowell fan who will buy any book she puts out. I pre-ordered this one so I could listened to it as soon as possible. Landline did not disappoint. It is full of the feeling, humour, skillful turn of phrase and sheer geekiness that I loved in the previous books. Attachments remains my favorite but Landline is a very nice addition to Rowell’s bibliography, with a novel bit of magic.
The time-travel magic of the landline is the only bit of magic in the story, and it exist merely to serve the plot. At it’s essence, this is a story of love, marriage, friendship, ambition and priorities. Where her previous books have dealt with adolescence/first love, college and early adulthood, Georgie is a grown woman with a family and a career. (Can I interrupt to thrill at a woman succeeding in the world of comedy writing?) Georgie is not without flaws: she takes her husband for granted, puts her career before her family and she can be a bit bumbling and self-interested. But for all that she is funny, charming and well-intentioned. Being in her head, I grew to root for her even through her obvious mistakes.
The story moves between the present time where Georgie’s fear for her marriage is slowly tearing her apart and the beginnings of her romance with Neal. The charm of their young romance adds poignancy to their current troubles. It made me wonder, like Georgie, if they should indeed split up. But, in true Dickensian style, the little bit of magic allows Georgie to realize what she has taken for granted and work to save it.
The novel centers on Georgie and Neal, naturally as it’s a romance, and to a lesser extent their two young daughters, who would be lost if their marriage never happened. But I feel the need to mention two of my favorite characters: Georgie’s sister Heather, who is going through her own romantic troubles, and her mother’s ridiculous pregnant pug. I just wanted to hug the two of them.
Rowell has put out a surprising number of novels since her debut but I’m already eager for more. But she tells us that she will be writing two graphic novels for First Second (love them!) with another favorite creator: Faith Erin Hill. I can’t wait!