Landline, Rainbow Rowell

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 he still loves her – but that almost seems besides the point now.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells him 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 – he is always a little upset with her – 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?

Back in July 2014, I went to the London Film and Comic Con (LFCC), which also hosted YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention). I went to a couple of panels, and one of them was Superfans Unite! Authors Tim O’Rourke, Lucy Saxon (cosplaying Captain America), Andy Robb, and Rainbow Rowell. The panel was fun and interesting, and Rainbow mentioned her latest novel, Landline. It sounded great, and I’d recently read and enjoyed Fangirl, but it was a very busy weekend and, ultimately, I forgot about it. Until, back in August, I popped into Foyles. I wanted one book, and came out with three (plus a gift for someone else) – Kitchen, Vivian Versus The Apocalyse, and this.

I devoured it on my commute (though made a tactical error in finishing it before my train home actually left the station). I understood Georgie even if I didn’t always agree with her, understood her sadness and her fear and the feeling of being torn between two places, the feeling that whatever she chooses will be wrong. She makes a series of bad decisions, but I can see where she’s coming from.

I was irritated that a gay character was presented as a plot twist. I understood what she was trying to do, with presenting a small conflict within the much larger one, and it did at least provide an opportunity for a couple of good conversations, but identity is not a plot twist, gay characters are not Scooby-Doo villains. I found the children slightly two-dimensional – in a way that I know small children absolutely are not – but that may be down to their relevant absence from a lot of the story, or perhaps an attempt at portraying how much of their lives Georgie feels she is missing. I also found it was a little too long. There seemed to be a fair amount of filler and unnecessary suspense, while other elements could have had more to them.

Despite that, I enjoyed Landline. I’ve demanded that my friend read it, and I’ve given it to my mum (who is currently off work with a bad back and very bored). It’s an easy read, one for journeys, without being fluffy or simplistic or devoid of emotion.

Other categories that Landline fits into: a classic romance, a book by a female author, a mystery or thriller, a book with a one word title, a book set in a different country, a book with a love triangle

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