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Landline: A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2014: In Landline, Rainbow Rowell once again shares her insightful, funny perspective on love and relationships, this time delving into a marriage floundering in the wake of kids, careers, and the daily grind. Georgie and Neal have been married for fifteen years and have two young girls who Neal cares for while Georgie works as a sitcom writer. When Georgie skips the family trip to her in-laws in Omaha for Christmas and the rest of her family goes without her, she realizes that maybe her marriage is going too. When a line to the past (literally) gives Georgie a chance to re-live an earlier pivotal moment in their relationship, she sees it as an opportunity to figure out if she and Neal should have been together in the first place. Landline is a deeply resonant story about being willing to go all in--at the start or after being together for many years--for the kind of love that makes “everything else just scenery.” --Seira Wilson
“The magic phone becomes Ms. Rowell's way to rewrite ‘It's a Wonderful Life'…what that film accomplished with an angel named Clarence, Ms. Rowell accomplishes with a quaint old means of communication, and for her narrative purposes, it really does the trick.” ―The New York Times
“While the topic might have changed, this is still Rowell--reading her work feels like listening to your hilariously insightful best friend tell her best stories.” ―Library Journal, starred review on Landline
“Her characters are instantly lovable, and the story moves quickly…the ending manages to surprise and satisfy all at once. Fans will love Rowell's return to a story close to their hearts.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Landline
“Rowell is, as always, a fluent and enjoyable writer--the pages whip by.” ―Publishers Weekly on Landline
“Keen psychological insight, irrepressible humor and a supernatural twist: a woman can call her husband in the past.” ―Time Magazine on Landline
"Rowell pulls off this impossible premise with great charm, and her depictions of the couple’s sweet courtship and their later compromise-filled marriage are equally unsentimental and knowing." ―Curtis Sittenfeld for The New Yorker
“The dialogue flows naturally; it's zippy, funny, and fresh. The flirtation between young Georgie and Neal is genuinely romantic.” ―Boston Globe
“After the blazing successes of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Attachments, it's become clear that Rowell is an absolute master of rendering emotionally authentic and absorbing stories...While the novel soars in its more poignant moments, Rowell injects the proper dose of humor to keep you laughing through your tears.” ―RT Book Reviews on Landline
“To skip her work because of its rom-com sheen would be to miss out on the kind of swift, canny honesty of that passage, which is typical of the pleasures of Landline -- it's a book that's a joy from sentence to sentence, and on that intimate level there's absolutely nothing unoriginal or clichéd in the way Rowell thinks. Her work is dense with moments of sharp observation…and humor.” ―Chicago Tribune Printers Row
“But a focus on the endings is the wrong one when you're reading a book of Rowell's. What matters most are the middles, which she packs with thoughtful dissections of how we live today, reflections upon the many ways in which we can love and connect as humans, and tacit reassurances of the validity of our feelings regardless of our particular experiences.” ―Slate.com on Landline
“Landline might not have any teenage protagonists, but it does have all the pleasures of Rowell's YA work -- immediate writing that's warm and energetic” ―Time.com
“More gentle, more real than Douglas Coupland, more smooth and also more clever than Helen Fielding. Truly, slowly, sweetly gorgeous.” ―The Globe & Mail
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Rowell made the transition from young adult to adult literature ok. It still felt like I was reading a young adult book. Georgie and Neal's problems were believable and relatable, although their actual relationship seemed a little far fetched to me. It didn't seem like they really went together well. The only thing I really liked about their relationship was that it wasn't easy.
Georgie's character was pretty good, but Neal was not well developed and what you did learn about him did not make him relatable. Other characters were developed well and were relatively interesting. The magical phone was written fairly well in that Rowell didn't try to explain it and just had it happen.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, it just was not quite what I expected. It was a fun light read with and interesting premise.
Last year, Rainbow Rowell catapulted onto my list of favorite authors with two of her books, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. I just loved her writing and the characters she created, and both books made my year-end list of the best books I read. So needless to say, when I saw she had a new book coming out this year, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and I waited to see how it would be different.
Georgie McCool is a successful sitcom writer, a job she has dreamed of for as long as she can remember. She and her best friend, Seth, have been a comedy team since college, and they have risen through the ranks of the comedy writing world. They're finally working on a commercially successful show, despite the fact that they hate the comedian who is the star, and they dream of someday having their own show, the show they've thought of and planned for since they first met.
Georgie and her husband, Neal, have dated since college. While they both truly love each other, and the family they have created with their two young daughters, they don't always get along. But what married couple does, right? Maybe Georgie doesn't try as hard as she could, maybe she's not as fully involved in taking care of the girls as Neal is. And maybe Neal resents Georgie's weird symbiotic relationship with Seth all these years. But every couple has issues.
"How does anyone ever know whether love is enough? It's an idiotic question. Like, if you fall in love, if you're that lucky, who are you to even ask whether it's enough to make you happy?"
One day, Georgie and Seth finally get the news they've been hoping for—their dream show has been given the go-ahead by a network executive to be a mid-season replacement. They have just a few days to come up with the first several scripts. The only problem is, it's two days before Christmas, and Neal, Georgie, and the girls have plans to go to Nebraska to visit Neal's mother. But Georgie says she has to stay in Los Angeles, as she can't give up this dream.
Georgie is reeling from Neal's departure, and her fears that this may be the crushing blow to their marriage. One night she finds a way to communicate with college-aged Neal, at a moment when their relationship was at a crossroads. Although she fears continuing to speak with "past Neal" might ruin something in the future (a la Back to the Future), she can't tear herself away, and at the same time, she can't help but wonder whether there's some cosmic opportunity to try and fix something in their relationship—and whether she should stop it this time before it took off.
I read Landline in a day. While I didn't love it as much as Rowell's earlier books, I really, really enjoyed it. As I've said numerous times before, I'm sappy enough to enjoy stories of making love work through difficult times, and I guess I've read enough books with gimmicks like these that I didn't have any trouble with this plot twist either. In fact, I imagined what I would do if I had the same opportunity Georgie did.
If I have any criticism of Landline, it's that the characters are all fairly unsympathetic. From time to time, I wanted to shake nearly every one of them to say what they were thinking, to prevent something major from happening, although I know that's pretty much like life is. But I just love the way Rowell writes, so even with cranky characters, she has the ability to charm me and keep me reading. Can't wait for her next one!!
You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
She didn't know at twenty-three.”
4.5 stars! Rainbow Rowell does it once again! Every time I read her books I find myself thinking Yes! That's exactly how I feel, or felt or would feel. In Landline, Georgie and Neal are at the point in their marriage that most couples reach after 15 or so years and a couple of kids thrown in the mix. Things become routine, spouses get taken for granted, moments that used to make your heart pitter-patter don't so much anymore because..well life happens. But Georgie is given a rare chance..to connect with Neal through a "magic" phone 15 years in the past. And she remembers all those feelings, and she realizes how much she wants her marriage and Neal..good, solid, reliable present day Neal.
I found this book totally charming and loved the magical realism of the landline phone. There were a couple of things I found disagreeable on a personal level (thus the 4.5 rating) and I do wish that Rowell would cut back on the cursing. Do people really curse that much IRL? Not in mine anyway. But overall another amazingly perfect book and now the long wait until her next one.