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?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened? – Goodreads
There’s just something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing. Even if I’m not that into the premise of her story. Even if I don’t find much to relate to in her characters. Even if the book contains one of my pet peevy, inconsistency-causing fictional tropes (time travel/weird Freaky Friday magic), the kind of thing that normally makes me drop a book back onto the stack faster than if it had caught fire… even then, she is able to draw me in. She hooked me like a wriggling fish hungry for bait. And you know what? I was totally fine with that.
But let’s start at the beginning here. When I started reading Landline, it had been a while since I’d read a Rowell book. I had forgotten her witchy, feely magic. So I was ambivalent and a bit worried that this book was going to be the one that broke the Eleanor & Park/Fangirl spell. I hadn’t let myself read much about the book, so I wasn’t prepared for the Freaky Friday-ness. That plus not immediately taking to the characters had me feeling like maybe, for the first time ever while reading a Rowell book, I wouldn’t end up using my entire supply of Kleenex and be left sobbing into scratchy lavatory paper.
That feeling lasted for all of 30 pages.
And then she dropped the hammer.
This isn’t like her other books; not really. Perhaps this was partly because the other Rowell books I’ve read (I’m saving Attachments for a really rainy day) were young adult books. The characters in this one therefore feel more complex, more conflicted. In each of them you can find unpleasant traits – but, as you get to know them, you also find that they are each trying to be better in their own way while still holding onto the parts of themselves they can’t live without, for better or for worse.
Georgie is trying to be a better wife and mother without letting go of or letting down her best friend and writing partner, Seth. Seth is trying to sort out his feelings which, in typical fictional guy manner, scare the crap out of him. Neal is trying to be a good dad and ignore the fact that he feels taken for granted, because part of being a good husband to Georgie is accepting her job, her dreams and her partnership with Seth. Like it or not (mostly not).
Even the supporting characters are a compelling mixture of both likeable and uncomfortable traits and behaviours.
This ability to draw real, human, flawed characters is Rowell’s gift – and my emotional kryptonite. And despite all my early doubts about the mystical landline element, in the end (and don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you what that end is) Rowell pulled it off. It works.
I ended up loving this book – but, like Fangirl, I don’t think it will necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea. I think it appealed to me on a personal level because it brought up many of the issues and questions I am struggling with in my own life. I’m about he same age as Georgie, and at a similar point in my life. As wonderful as being a grown up can be, it’s hard. Relationships are hard. Picking a career is hard. And even if you like your job, there are always sacrifices and tough choices to be made. Sometimes we all need a little bit of magic to remind us that in the midst of work deadlines and chores and daily frustrations, you can’t take anything for granted.
Now excuse me while I search for more Kleenex.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Released: July 8, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Date Read: June 29-July 8, 2014
Rating: 9/10 //<![CDATA[ var sc_project=10144299; var sc_invisible=1; var sc_security="82f610c9"; var scJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://secure." : "http://www."); document.write("”); //]]>