REVIEW: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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If you cound contact anyone from the past who would it be? A friend you lost contact with, a relative you never got to know or maybe the one who got away? Georgie doesn’t get a choice. Co-writing a successful sitcom with her best friend Seth is hard work, particulalry when it’s not the show they want to be making. But when they might finally have the chance to make the show they have wanted to create since college Georgie has a tough decision to make: go to Omaha with her family or spend Christmas at the office.

When her husband Neal flies out with their two daughters, Georgie wonders if the distance in her marriage just became too big  to cross. As the stress of writing her dream series becomes too much-  and with radio silence from Neal- Georgie finds herself unable to go home to her empty house and instead spends the week camped out in her childhood bedroom, wearing her mother’s velour tracksuits and dissuading a pregnant pug from sleeping in her bed. It’s here that she discovers an unexpected link to the past: an old telephone she used to ring Neal during the holidays at college. When she finally gets through to Neal, he isn’t her husband, but the college student she dated in the week before he proposed. Is she supposed to convince him to be with her or give him a chane to be happy with someone else?

Hindsight has an intersting role to play in Landline. An older Georgie has the ability to smooth over the mistakes that her younger self could have made but the realities of her relationship and what she knows of the future make her question whether she deserves Neal at all. Knowing that their marriage isn’t perfect blinds her to the fact that marrying someone else might not make Neal any happier.

The choice Georgie has to make is a little surprising. Not only does she have to consider whether to push the young Neal away but whether her job is worth it. Having to choose between her family life and her dream career  seems a little drastic, which is arguably the point.  And I know to some extent she’s beginning to realise that what she wanted at twenty might not be what she wants in her thirties but should it be an either/ or situation? The timing of her big break definitely creates an unspoken ultimatum between her personal and professional life. Maybe she finds a happy compromise after the final page.

Neal was a great character but he is a little self-sacrificing. I think in a way, being at home was easier for him than pursuing what he wanted to do. Heather, Georgie’s younger sister and her mother were both highlights for me, and of course the two pugs. Rowell has a knack for characters that really colour the narrative. Cath and Levi, two characters from Fangirl also cameo here. You have to keep your eyes peeled for them though.

In some ways, Landline draws parallels with Rowell’s first novel Attachments. Both stories examine how we communicate and what happens when communication breaks down. It’s interesting that e-mails a relatively new technology play a huge part of a novel set in 1999, and are used to display the friendship between Beth and Jennifer, when Georgie is forced to use a more outdated form of communication to reconnect with her husband and their past.

Rating: 3.5/ 5

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Author: whatadifferenceawordmakes

Book-lover, tea enthusiast and MA student

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