Landline by Rainbow Rowell | Rating: ★★★★★
"I think I can live without you," he said, like it was something he’d spent twenty-seven hours think about, "but it won’t be any kind of life."
I really, really wish that Landline had been my first Rainbow Rowell novel. I loved it so, so much — I honestly did. There’s something charming about the entire story, which is pretty funny given that it follows a marriage that is ‘in trouble’, and just… perfect. Lovely. And if you’re looking to read a book by Rainbow, please — please — start with this one.
It’s everything you’ve come to expect from her and more.
Rainbow could have really overdone this story or it could have been lackluster, but the way she told Georgie and Neal’s story was just right. She ties everything up together — magic and all — in a way that makes the story unique and realistic. Her ever present witty dialogue shines in the interactions between Georgie and her family and her best friend, Seth.
And of course in the flashbacks we see from the start of her and Neal’s relationship. You really, really grow to cheer them on in their marriage and hope for the best but I suppose you expect the worst.
Georgie does something incredibly selfish at the start of the novel — selfish in a completely understandable manner, but still selfish — and almost instantaneously it leads us down our plot path. Instead of going to Neal’s mother’s home for Christmas with him and their children, she needs to spend the days leading up to Christmas writing.
Why? Because, as someone who works in television, she has the chance of a lifetime to bring the show she and her best friend/writing partner have been dreaming of to life. And that is the dream.
The ultimate goal.
But this is not Neal’s dream. It has never been Neal’s dream and this visibly frustrates him. And it could be the nail in the coffin of their relationship; which has always been rocky (but loving) and we see this dawn in our narrator’s eyes.
That this could be it: this could be the end of their marriage.
With this decision, and Neal’s obvious unhappiness, we see the family off to Omaha as Georgie stays behind to work. Georgie’s mother takes this as ‘Neal has left Georgie’ and although Georgie insists that he hasn’t, she knows her marriage is in trouble. And this all but takes her creativity away from her as she struggles to focus.
(We are given quite a few gems at this point when Seth begins to notice Georgie’s unhappiness and we have a few giggles as he points certain details out.)
Then, by landlines, she think she is beginning to lose her mind. Neal begins ignoring her calls, so tries him via the old phone in her childhood bedroom — only it isn’t her Neal that she reaches. It’s Neal from the past; just days before he proposes to her.
But what does this mean? Is she supposed to convince him to propose? Not propose? And what will it change? Can she fix her marriage or not? And what would happen if she convinces him not to propose?
In a flurry of love, wit and questions of life, we watch Georgie McCool (yes, this is her real name) navigate this set up. And it’s an absolute delight — Georgie, though flawed, is the perfect narrator for this story. She’s very lovely to get to know and there is just something natural and unique about reading from her point of view and seeing her interact with many other characters.
It’s truly a delight to see her grow throughout the story and to see her step into certain stages in her life with just as much confusion as you’d expect from, well, anyone.
I would have loved to hear the story from Neal’s point of view, as well, because he just seems so mysterious throughout the story and it made me curious to see how he was feeling as well. Georgie, although she doesn’t voice it, is obviously distressed and emotional by the happenings throughout the novel, but Neal doesn’t wear his emotions quite as well. And I think it would be interesting to hear what’s in his mind.
That being said, Landline is by far the best contemporary novel I’ve read this year and charmed me instantly. I’d recommend this book to anyone. ANYONE. I loved Fangirl, but I think that overall I enjoyed Landline much, much more. And I think that this book will be a hit because it is just… special.
You’ll be attached to Georgie and Neal by the end.
(And the ending is perfect.)