Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

 

 

Ohhh Rainbow Rowell.

Landline is her newest novel, and I was particularly looking forward to it because she hasn’t had an adult (as in, the characters are adults, not as in XXX adult, of course) novel out since Attachments, which is still my favorite of hers. So Landline is about Georgie McCool (OMG best last name ever) and her marriage to Neal. They’ve been together for years, and have two adorable little girls, but their marriage has been strained. It becomes even more so when Georgie has an important work-thing come up and has to stay home to work for the week of Christmas, while Neal takes the girls to his mom’s house in Nebraska. Georgie worries incessantly, and eventually finds that by calling on her old yellow landline phone, she’s able to talk to Neal in the past, before they got married. Is this the tool she needs to fix everything?

Alright guys, I’m going to be the downer here and say that this is my least favorite Rowell so far. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In fact, I read the whole book in a day and there were many quotable lines that I marked as I read, and I enjoyed it.

I have two main things that I think keep me from really loving Landline though. One being that I just don’t think the characters were as well fleshed-out as Rowell’s characters usually are. Georgie and Neal are still kind of hard for me to picture, and I feel like I didn’t quite get to know them. I was TOLD a lot that Georgie is really funny (hence her job as a writer for a sitcom), but I wasn’t ever really shown her being funny. You get little flashbacks of her and Neal falling in love, but it still wasn’t quite obvious to me what about Neal made her fall in love with him. I’m probably the only one who had this issue, but that’s just how it was. I can’t picture Georgie and Neal as well as I can picture Lincoln and Beth from Attachments, and I read that years ago.

My other main thing was that I think the situation in this novel wasn’tΒ something I could really relate to very well. And I KNOW that’s a me-issue. I have no desire for a career, so it was kind of hard to relate to this personΒ who is so invested in her job that her marriage is suffering. I can’t imagine a job ever being more important (or equally important) as my husband is. Your spouse is the person who you’re supposed to be old and wrinkly with when everything else in life (work, kids) is done with. Why would you put anything else before that? Family comes first. I was still rooting for Georgie the whole way, but it was a conflict that I had a hard time wrapping my head around, even though I know it’s a frequent issue in relationships.

Anyways, this book was still good, and Rowell is still one of those authors that will make me run out to a bookstore the day her newest book is being released to grab it. And now, here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

 

“You shouldn’t have to make anybody like you, Georgie. You should want to be with somebody who can’t help but like you.”

and

” – she still wasn’t better off without him. (Even if your heart is broken and attacking you, you’re still not better off without it.)”

 

Sarah Says: 3.5 stars

 

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21 comments

  1. Yours is the third review *today* that I have seen of this book, and that’s just only the book bloggers I follow.

    You address some of my feelings here. Overall, I liked the book. A lot. but there were things that were hard for me to accept: one of them is that it’s never really made clear what’s in it for Neal. We see Neal through Georgie’s eyes, and he’s pretty great, but I wish we could have seen Georgie through *his* eyes in order to get what’s so great about her. Also, I wish that they could have resolved their relationship through…um…how to avoid spoilers? Without the deus ex machina that the telephone in her mom’s house turned out to be.

    Also, was there anything in the book that couldn’t have been resolved if Georgie had said in chapter One, “Hey, Neal. I’ve got this great job opportunity at write my own tv show, so instead of flying to Omaha now with you ONE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS, you go with the kids and I’ll change my ticket to fly out on Christmas Eve to be with all of you then. Maybe we can even extend our stay for a few days to make up for the time I’ll miss before Christmas. Tell you mom hi for me.”

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    1. YES. I feel like it didn’t need to be that big of an issue – just talk, and compromise. But I guess the whole point is that she chooses work over her family a lot and that was kind of the last straw? Which just brings me back to… don’t make work more important than your spouse and kids. Simple.

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  2. It’s weird because I had the opposite problem…I couldn’t get into the characters in Attachments but I loved them all in Landline! I do agree though, I can’t imagine letting a career get so in control of my life that it’s ruining my family!

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  3. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love it. I understand your points and I agree that it doesn’t make sense to put career before family. I see it every day where I work so I could totally picture it. I would never do it – but I know too any people that do, unfortunately.

    Still, I’m glad you enjoyed it enough and I love those quotes. Her books are so easy to devour in a day.

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  4. I’m glad that even though you didn’t LOVE this one that you still enjoyed it some. I actually found Georgie’s career ambition refreshing. I really loved that Neal was a Stay at Home Dad, Yeah, it’s never a good idea to put career above family, but it was interesting to see the woman doing that for a change.

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    1. The flipped gender roles was refreshing – but I think the career obsession would’ve annoyed me even if their positions were reversed. If it had been Neal never home and skipping Christmas to work, people would’ve been lining up to talk smack about him. But I think this book would’ve been better if it had been another 100-200 pages longer – I needed more character development.

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  5. This wasn’t my favorite Rowell book either, but I enjoyed it pretty well. My complaint about Georgie’s job wasn’t that she puts a high priority on it — that was actually really nice to see; I feel like I don’t see that enough in fiction, a woman who loves and is amazing at her job — but was more the complaint that yeah, we don’t really see her being funny. I wanted to see more of her jokes. I especially wanted to see more of her making jokes WITH SETH, so that I could see the point of them as friends. Seth didn’t feel like a real character to me.

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    1. I liked that she was a woman who cares about her career… but it’s crappy to put your career above your spouse and kids, I think. Yeah, men do it all the time, but it’s crappy behavior when they do it too. And Seth didn’t seem like a real character either… and he definitely seemed more like he was using Georgie to further his career. We don’t see any real bonding or humor from either of them.

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  6. I loved the book like I love every other Rainbow book, but you do bring up a really great point; the characters aren’t fleshed out like I’d like them to be. I know that she’s no Liz Lemon, but it would have been nice to for Rainbow to write things from Neal or Seth’s POV so we could see Georgie McCool in her element as well.

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    1. Exactly. I would have loved to see more Neal chapters, so we can see more of Georgie from the outside. It’s weird because her YA books are so much more in depth than this was… that was a tad disappointing.

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  7. I just got this in a book riot box and I haven’t read any Rowell so I’m really looking forward to reading it! It’s also good to know that if I like this one, I’ll love all of the others!

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  8. I’ve heard that Landline wasn’t as great as readers had hoped. I absolutely LOVED Attachments and couldn’t wait for another Adult novel from Rainbow! The lackluster reviews kicked it down a few spots on my list, though. I’m definitely still interested in reading it, but I’m not in a hurry.

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    1. Yeeeea… I wouldn’t rush either. It was still a good read, but I’m already looking forward to whatever she writes next b/c I’m hoping that me not loving this one like all her others is just a fluke.

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  9. I just finished this one, so I’m finally commenting on the posts that have been sitting unread in my reader.

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    I actually had the opposite problem as you, where I could see where she was coming from and thought maybe it would have been better if they didn’t end up together. But then if you go the time travel “the past fifteen years never happened” route, I can totally understand that erasing her kids would be too horrific to consider… but I guess I just never got the two of them as a couple (and maybe that goes back to not relating to the characters, like you said). And I feel like they never really addressed their problems. So the ending was pretty unsatisfying for me.

    Attachments is definitely my favorite Rowell, though I did like this more than E&P.

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    1. Yeah, their issue wasn’t really resolved… just kind of temporarily pacified. I’d like to see Landline fast-forward to like a year or two later and see if they’re still having the same problems.

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      1. Exactly. Just because she started to blow off work for her “relationship” (which was really more of a “WTF is going on?!” response) doesn’t mean her priorities have suddenly shifted. There was a sort of symmetry to the grand gesture, but it wasn’t enough for me.

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