Book: Landline


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 him to pack up the kids and go 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 int he 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?

A friend asked me to tell him what I think of Landline as soon as I finish. Thing is, when I put the book down, I couldn’t quite decide if I think the book is as good as Rainbow Rowell’s earlier efforts–or if I’m just being buoyed by good will from her better books.

Yes, I said better books. Because now that I have slept on it, I’ve realized that Landline isn’t as good, or as emotionally-gripping, as Eleanor & Park, or Attachments… Even Fangirl, with its over-long narrative is better than Landline. Why? Because in those books, more than the falling in love, we also get glimpses of our protagonists’ lives outside the love story.

With Landline, we begin with the problem. Georgie and Neal are married, but she could tell that her marriage is falling apart. And then it does. And then we go through the motions of their courtship through flashbacks, and the gimmicky premise of having Georgie talk to Neal from nineteen years ago. And she falls in love again. Until she realizes the gravity of talking to someone from so long ago. The power she has to change his future–her present.

The premise isn’t new, but the protagonist’s stake in it, sort of, is. You are giving a woman, who knows that her marriage is not working out, the power to change that. To see if there could be a better future for both her husband and her. And I feel like the novel wasted that potential by… Well, I won’t spoil the book for you. It’s still a well-written novel, even though I ended up not being a fan.

Landline is for the romantics. If you do not care about the characters’ backgrounds beyond how it affects the central love story, then this is the book for you. This is no Eleanor & Park. There is no epic love story that propels to teenagers to defy all odds. This is no Attachments, where our male protagonist is caught in a moral dilemma of how he fell for the love interest. This is no Fangirl, where, besides the love story, you have your female protagonist debating between the lifestyle she has and the lifestyle she thinks she ought to have. Landline just is.

It’s a simple story of falling in love all over again. And it can be enough.

Just not for me.

Now, let’s see what other people are writing about Landline:
Books and Swoons

One thought on “Book: Landline

  1. Pingback: Book: Call Me Irresistible | taking a break

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