Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Check the book out on Goodreads.
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 beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside 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?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened? (Source: Goodreads)
If you know me, and maybe you know me, you also know that I am a massive Rainbow Rowell fan. I absolutely adore her Rainbow Rowell. Her second YA book, Fangirl, left me weeping because I related so much to Cath as I was, even in my last year of university, still feeling the effects of my constantly worsening relationship with my brother. So, basically, Cath’s story was my story. Despite my huge love for Cath and Levi, and even Eleanor and Park, from Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, I was a little hesitant to read Landline. Why? you might ask. Well, Rowell’s first book Attachments really didn’t do much for me. Attachments, like Landline, is not a YA novel. It’s a grown-up book, for grown-ups. I like Attachments just fine, but it didn’t punch me in the gut and rip my heart out the way Fangirl and Eleanor & Park did. So, I was a little afraid Landline would fall flat for me just because I’m not really a grown-up yet.
I was wrong.
Rainbow Rowell knocked me down and pulled out my heart again. This wonderful woman knows how to get to me.
This book takes place in December 2013, but much of the content of the book comes from the 1990s as Georgie and Neal fall in love. The main premise of the book, one that might be hard for some people to really deal with, is that Georgie has a magic phone that calls the 1990s and lets her talk to her husband before they were married. Georgie is just as puzzled as the reader about how this phone works, but it does, it works for Georgie and it works for the book. The anxiety and mystery of this magical phone made left me begging for more.
I fell completely and utterly in love with Georgie and Neal without even noticing that I was. At the start of the book TV comedy writer, Georgie, tell’s her husband, Neal, that she won’t be able to go to Omaha for Christmas because she has a deadline to meet. Her husband is, understandably, upset and he takes the kids and goes to his mother’s house in Omaha like they’d planned, leaving Georgie to finish her work and contemplate her crumbling marriage. It’s her contemplation that leads you to love her and to love Neal, because slowly she remembers everything about her husband that made her fall in love with him when they met in college. Neal is the quintessential moody artist with a hint of an athlete (he was a wrestler in high school). There’s a dark, moody charm to Neal, but there’s also this softness and cuteness to him as well. One of the most memorable moment of Neal for me was this flashback scene when Georgie discusses her father’s place in her live and says that father’s, to her, are optional. Neal’s reaction broke my heart:
He stopped halfway up the stairs. He had to lean down below the ceiling to make eye contact with her. “Because we don’t even have kids, and you already think I’m optional.” (p. 270)
Moment’s like this made Neal leap off the page. For Georgie I think it was her anxiety about her children, the fear that they were growing farther away from her, and her fears of losing her children. I’m not a mother, but the fear on Georgie’s mind is a feeling I can sometimes see in my own mother’s eyes the older I get. So Georgie of 2013 may not have been me like Fangirl‘s Cath felt like me, but maybe 1990s Georgie felt like me, which made 2013’s Georgie a me I could be. 2013’s Georgie left me scared, mad, joyous, and proud as she fought her way out of the hole that she had fallen into and fell back back in love with herself and her husband.
The way Rowell writes often catches me off guard because she describes even the mundane in ways you’d never expect. I have this thing, this squeezing of the chest (I call in squinching), that happens when I fall in love with a person, a moment, a phrase in real life, in books, in movies…always. For me, every moment between Neal and Georgie as they fell in love in the ’90s had my heart squinching like crazy. I can’t even describe how wonderful Rainbow Rowell is at making me feel so I’ll share with you this wonderful quote:
He kissed her like he was drawing a perfectly straight line.
He kissed her in India Ink. (p. 149)
Before I go on for too long, and I really could go on forever, about my love for Rowell and her main characters I’ll talk a little bit about Seth, Georgie’s writing partner. Seth was…a bit of a Nick (from Fangirl) in that he has this air of pretension about him and while it’s initially charming it really wears down over time until you’re left with a sort of weary impression of him. Seth is Georgie’s best friend who is constantly trying to ruin her relationship with Neal when they’re in college which leads to this awkward acceptance of him being around Georgie all the time, even into their marriage. Seth has a female counterpart in this book, Dawn, and, for me, the more read about them the more I groaned and sigh with disgust over their desperate attempts to pull this amazing couple apart. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad…but Seth really did annoy me. A huge part of me felt like he was just using Georgie for her sense of humour and her loyalty rather than really caring about her. In contrast to moody Neal…Seth was just annoying. It made me love Neal even more. Which really was a huge reminder of Nick from Fangirl.
Other favourite moments in this book were Georgie’s mom’s dog going into labour, a little Easter Egg about one of Rowell’s previous books (major squinch moment, a lot of squealing occurred), and Georgie’s adorable daughter, Noomi, who thinks she is a green cat (adorable). A lot of the cultural reference Georgie made were a little too old for me as many of them came from TV shows before my time, but I still understood a lot of it and it wouldn’t really change my understanding of the book if I didn’t get them.
To wrap this all up, before I ramble myself to death, I loved this book. I loved Georgie and Neal in a way I never could of loved Levi and Cath or Eleanor and Park, but I loved them so much just the way they were meant to be loved. For some of Rowell’s regular reader this book might be a little difficult to read because they might not be able to relate to Georgie because they’re too young but I do think there’s a universality to Georgie’s story and her journey to fix her marriage it just needs a little working through for younger readers.