Landlineby Rainbow Rowell
#1 New York Times bestselling author! A New York Times Best Seller! Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Fiction of 2014! An Indie Next Pick!
IF YOU GOT A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE,
WOULD YOU MAKE THE SAME CALL?
As far as time machines go, a magic telephone is pretty useless.
TV writer Georgie McCool can't actually/b>/b>/b>/i>/i>/i>
#1 New York Times bestselling author! A New York Times Best Seller! Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Fiction of 2014! An Indie Next Pick!
IF YOU GOT A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE,
WOULD YOU MAKE THE SAME CALL?
As far as time machines go, a magic telephone is pretty useless.
TV writer Georgie McCool can't actually visit the past -- all she can do is call it, and hope it picks up.
And hope he picks up.
Because once Georgie realizes she has a magic phone that calls into the past, all she wants to do is make things right with her husband, Neal.
Maybe she can fix the things in their past that seem unfixable in the present. Maybe this stupid phone is giving her a chance to start over ...
Does Georgie want to start over?
From Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, comes this heart-wrenching - and hilarious - take on fate, time, television and true love.
Landline asks if two people are ever truly on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway, no matter where you end up.
Rowell follows up children’s novels Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, both released in 2013, with an adult novel about the ups and downs of marriage. Georgie McCool (yes, that’s her real name) is a successful TV writer with a handsome writing partner and a chance to finally take her career to the next level; she’s just been offered her own pilot, which means no more writing jokes for characters she didn’t invent. The only problem? Her husband, Neal, is growing increasingly discontent with Georgie’s endless work and his status as stay-at-home dad to their daughters, Noomi and Alice. When Georgie cancels the family trip over Christmas, Neal takes the girls and leaves Georgie behind. This is where the story gets interesting. When Georgie calls Neal’s home, she doesn’t reach the husband who’s on the verge of leaving her—she reaches the moody cartoonist she fell in love with during college, a past version of the current Neal. This magical plot device allows Georgie to investigate what drove her and Neal apart in flashbacks, and consider whether they were ever truly happy. Rowell is, as always, a fluent and enjoyable writer—the pages whip by. Still, something about the relationship between Georgie and Neal feels hollow, like it’s missing the complexity of adult love, despite the plot’s special effects. First printing of 100,000. (July)
A marriage in crisis, a magical intervention and a bittersweet choice. TV writer Georgie McCool is trying to have it all, but it becomes clear that she's failing when her husband, Neal, heads to Nebraska for a family Christmas with their kids—without her. The career opportunity of a lifetime has appeared, but now her marriage may be ending as a result. What seems to be the setup for just another contemporary novel about midlife struggles takes a near-paranormal turn when Georgie finds a way to talk to Neal, but he's not the Neal who's just left her. Instead, she's talking to him in the past, right before they got engaged. As the days leading up to Christmas tick by, and Georgie goes back and forth between talking to the Neal she fell in love with and avoiding her rapidly crumbling current life, she starts to realize that she might be able to undo the complications of the present and has to decide whether she wants to. Though Rowell started her career writing adult fiction (Attachments, 2011), she leaped up the best-seller lists with teen novels that adults love too (Fangirl, 2013; Eleanor & Park, 2013); in this book, she's taken the romantic excitement of great contemporary teen literature and applied it to a more mature story, examining whether the blush of first love explored so memorably in Eleanor & Park is enough to keep a couple together forever. Her characters are instantly lovable, and the story moves quickly and only a little predictably—the ending manages to surprise and satisfy all at once. Though some teens might not be interested in the story, adult fans will love Rowell's return to a story close to their hearts.The realities of a grown-up relationship are leavened by the buoyancy and wonder of falling in love all over again.
“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
“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
The New York Times best-selling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl makes a leap back to the world of adult relationships we last saw in her Attachments. Georgie McCool (her husband Neal didn't want her to change her killer name, either) writes with her best friend/writing soul mate, Seth, for a TV show, but they've just sold the program of their dreams to a network—as long as they can deliver four episodes by December 27. When she's supposed to be in Nebraska. With her family. For Christmas. After Neal takes the girls to Nebraska without her, Georgie's world begins to crumble. Neal seems to be dodging all of her calls until she starts phoning to the old rotary phone in her mother's house—and finds an odd connection to the past. Georgie's progress with her writing stalls as she tries to figure out her past, present, and future. VERDICT 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. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/14; national tour; library marketing.]—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA
- St. Martin's Press
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Read an Excerpt
By Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Rainbow Rowell
All rights reserved.
Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.
Neal never made Alice put it away.
Apparently bicycles never got stolen back in Nebraska—and people never tried to break in to your house. Neal didn’t even lock the front door most nights until after Georgie came home, though she’d told him that was like putting a sign in the yard that said PLEASE ROB US AT GUNPOINT. “No,” he’d said. “That would be different, I think.”
She hauled the bike up onto the porch and opened the (unlocked) door.
The lights were off in the living room, but the TV was still on. Alice had fallen asleep on the couch watching Pink Panther cartoons. Georgie went to turn it off and stumbled over a bowl of milk sitting on the floor. There was a stack of laundry folded on the coffee table—she grabbed whatever was on the top to wipe it up.
When Neal stepped into the archway between the living room and the dining room, Georgie was crouched on the floor, sopping up milk with a pair of her own underwear.
“Sorry,” he said. “Alice wanted to put milk out for Noomi.”
“It’s okay, I wasn’t paying attention.” Georgie stood up, wadding the wet underwear in her fist. She nodded at Alice. “Is she feeling okay?”
Neal reached out and took the underwear, then picked up the bowl. “She’s fine. I told her she could wait up for you. It was this whole negotiation over eating her kale and not using the word ‘literally’ anymore because it’s literally driving me crazy.” He looked back at Georgie on his way to the kitchen. “You hungry?”
“Yeah,” she said, following him.
Neal was in a good mood tonight. Usually when Georgie got home this late … Well, usually when Georgie got home this late, he wasn’t.
She sat at the breakfast bar, clearing a space for her elbows among the bills and library books and second-grade worksheets.
Neal walked to the stove and turned on a burner. He was wearing pajama pants and a white T-shirt, and he looked like he’d just gotten a haircut—probably for their trip. If Georgie touched the back of his head now, it’d feel like velvet one way and needles the other.
“I wasn’t sure what you wanted to pack,” he said. “But I washed everything in your hamper. Don’t forget that’s it’s cold there—you always forget that it’s cold.”
She always ended up stealing Neal’s sweaters.
He was in such a good mood tonight.…
He smiled as he made up her plate. Stir-fry. Salmon. Kale. Other green things. He crushed a handful of cashews in his fist and sprinkled them on top, then set the plate in front of her.
When Neal smiled, he had dimples like parentheses—stubbly parentheses. Georgie wanted to pull him over the breakfast bar and nose at his cheeks. (That was her standard response to Neal smiling.) (Though Neal probably wouldn’t know that.)
“I think I washed all your jeans…,” he said, pouring her a glass of wine.
Georgie took a deep breath. She just had to get this over with. “I got good news today.”
He leaned back against the counter and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. So … Maher Jafari wants our show.”
“What’s a Maher Jafari?”
“He’s the network guy we’ve been talking to. The one who green-lit The Lobby and that new reality show about tobacco farmers.”
“Right.” Neal nodded. “The network guy. I thought he was giving you the cold shoulder.”
“We thought he was giving us the cold shoulder,” Georgie said. “Apparently he just has cold shoulders.”
“Huh. Wow. That is good news. So—” He cocked his head to the side. “—why don’t you seem happy?”
“I’m thrilled,” Georgie said. Shrilly. God. She was probably sweating. “He wants a pilot, scripts. We’ve got a big meeting to talk casting.…”
“That’s great,” Neal said, waiting. He knew she was burying the lead.
Georgie closed her eyes. “… on the twenty-seventh.”
The kitchen was quiet. She opened them. Ah, there was the Neal she knew and loved. (Truly. On both counts.) The folded arms, the narrowed eyes, the knots of muscle in both corners of his jaw.
“We’re going to be in Omaha on the twenty-seventh,” he said.
“I know,” she said. “Neal, I know.”
“So? Are you planning to fly back to L.A. early?”
“No, I … we have to get the scripts ready before then. Seth thought—”
“All we’ve got done is the pilot,” Georgie said. “We’ve got nine days to write four episodes and get ready for the meeting—it’s really lucky that we have some time off from Jeff’d Up this week.”
“You have time off because it’s Christmas.”
“I know that it’s Christmas, Neal—I’m not skipping Christmas.”
“No. Just skipping … Omaha. I thought we could all skip Omaha.”
“We already have plane tickets.”
“Neal. It’s a pilot. A deal. With our dream network.”
Georgie felt like she was reading from a script. She’d already had this entire conversation, almost verbatim, this afternoon with Seth.…
“It’s Christmas,” she’d argued. They were in their office, and Seth was sitting on Georgie’s side of the big L-shaped desk they shared. He’d had her cornered.
“Come on, Georgie, we’ll still have Christmas—we’ll have the best Christmas ever after the meeting.”
“Tell that to my kids.”
“I will. Your kids love me.”
“Seth, it’s Christmas. Can’t this meeting wait?”
“We’ve already been waiting our whole career. This is happening, Georgie. Now. It’s finally happening.”
Seth wouldn’t stop saying her name.
Neal’s nostrils were flaring.
“My mom’s expecting us,” he said.
“I know,” Georgie whispered.
“And the kids … Alice sent Santa Claus a change-of-address card, so he’d know she’d be in Omaha.”
Georgie tried to smile. It was a weak effort. “I think he’ll figure it out.”
“That’s not—” Neal shoved the corkscrew in a drawer, then slammed it shut. His voice dropped. “That’s not the point.”
“I know.” She leaned over her plate. “But we can go see your mom next month.”
“And take Alice out of school?”
“If we have to.”
Neal had both hands on the counter, clenching the muscles in his forearms. Like he was retroactively bracing himself for bad news. His head was hanging down, and his hair fell away from his forehead.
“This might be our shot,” Georgie said. “Our own show.”
Neal nodded without lifting his head. “Right,” he said. His voice was soft and flat.
Sometimes she lost her place when she was arguing with Neal. The argument would shift into something else—into somewhere more dangerous—and Georgie wouldn’t even realize it. Sometimes Neal would end the conversation or abandon it while she was still making her point, and she’d just go on arguing long after he’d checked out.
Georgie wasn’t sure whether this even qualified as an argument. Yet.
So she waited.
Neal hung his head.
“What does ‘right’ mean?” she finally asked.
He pushed off the counter, all bare arms and square shoulders. “It means that you’re right. Obviously.” He started clearing the stove. “You have to go to this meeting. It’s important.”
He said it almost lightly. Maybe everything was going to be fine, after all. Maybe he’d even be excited for her. Eventually.
“So,” she said, testing the air between them. “We’ll see about visiting your mom next month?”
Neal opened the dishwasher and started gathering up dishes. “No.”
Georgie pressed her lips together and bit them. “You don’t want to take Alice out of school?”
He shook his head.
She watched him load the dishwasher. “This summer, then?”
His head jerked slightly, like something had brushed his ear. Neal had lovely ears. A little too big, and they poked out at the top like wings. Georgie liked to hold his head by his ears. When he’d let her.
She could imagine his head in her hands now. Could feel her thumbs stroking the tops of his ears, her knuckles brushing against his clippered hair.
“No,” he said again, standing up straight and wiping his palms on his pajama pants. “We’ve already got plane tickets.”
“Neal, I’m serious. I can’t miss this meeting.”
“I know,” he said, turning toward her. His jaw was set. Permanently.
Back in college, Neal had thought about joining the military; he would have been really good at the part where you have to deliver terrible news or execute a heartbreaking order without betraying how much it was costing you. Neal’s face could fly the Enola Gay.
“I don’t understand,” Georgie said.
“You can’t miss this meeting,” he said. “And we already have plane tickets. You’ll be working all week anyway. So you stay here, focus on your show—and we’ll go see my mom.”
“But it’s Christmas. The kids—”
“They can have Christmas again with you when we get back. They’ll love that. Two Christmases.”
Georgie wasn’t sure how to react. Maybe if Neal had been smiling when he said that last thing …
He motioned at her plate. “Do you want me to heat that back up for you?”
“It’s fine,” she said.
He nodded his head, minimally, then brushed past her, leaning over just enough to touch his lips to her cheek. Then he was in the living room, lifting Alice up off the couch. Georgie could hear him shushing her—“It’s okay, sweetie, I’ve got you”—and climbing the stairs.
Copyright © 2014 by Rainbow Rowell
Excerpted from Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Copyright © 2014 Rainbow Rowell. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In deciding whether to purchase a book, I often taken into account reviewers opinions of it. One in particular has me concerned, since they mentioned "fowl language". Does this story involve poultry conversing? I don't speak chicken (or turkey or duck, for that matter). On the other hand if the person meant "foul language" then I'll give it a read. Swearing, when called for in a story, doesn't bother me.
Based solely on the blurb, I'm not sure I would have picked this book up if it had been written by anyone else. It's safe to say, though, that I'm down to read anything that Rainbow Rowell writes. Keeping up with the current trend, Landline was a wonderful book and I've yet to read anything disappointing by Rainbow. Like everything else I've read by Rainbow, Landline was nearly impossible to put down. Forget everything else, I just want to sit and read for hours on end. That's pretty much what I did (much to my husband's irritation... hey, he can feed himself! I've seen him do it.) until I finished the book. The story flows effortlessly and before you know it, you're halfway through the book with no signs of stopping. Not only does Rainbow write realistic characters (I love her dialogue most of all), but she writes an authentic love. Sometimes, in mature/longer relationships, we need to be reminded that we love our significant other. We need to be reminded of why we love them. It's not as if that love has disappeared or is gone forever. It's just that love has been buried by time and by life. Those things, no matter how much you love your significant other, affect your relationship. Landline is Georgie's story of finding her way back to her husband. No, it's not about finding that new passionate love. It's about rekindling that love with her husband. It's about saving her marriage. I was thoroughly impressed with this book. It was even better than I imagined it to be. You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
This was the first book i've read from this author and i can say i was not disappointed....The characters of the book were very realistic...i started to re-live my young adult hood... i remembered having a rotary phone and staying up talking all night or holding the phone listening to my "true love" (that's what I thought at that age) breath....waiting for that call and scared that if you pick the phone up to check the dial tone you'd miss the call (no call waiting then)....i will definitely read other books by this author and i highly recommend Landline for your next read....
Landline is the fourth novel by American author, Rainbow Rowell. L.A. TV comedy writer Georgie McCool has been married to Neal Grafton for fifteen years and has two sweet and adorable daughters, Alice and Noomi. But Georgie knows her marriage is broken. They still love each other, but Neal’s not happy, so how can she be? She’s not sure exactly when it broke, but when Neal takes Alice and Noomi home to his parents in Omaha for Christmas, while Georgie stays behind to work, she wonders if it’s the final straw. Especially when Neal doesn’t answer his cell phone. With her writing going none too well, lonely, concerned about her marriage and with her own cell phone failing, Georgie ends up at her Mom’s place, in her old bedroom, using the big yellow rotary dial phone to ring the landline in Omaha. And then something strange happens. Something that might just give Georgie a change to fix what’s broken….. As Georgie worries about her relationship, Rowell has her thinking back to how it all started, thus slowly revealing what was so right about Georgie and Neal, and what went wrong later. Rowell’s characters are appealing despite their flaws: the reader may want to shake a bit of sense into Georgie, but luckily she finds it on her own before it is too late. Neal sounds like a husband many women would covet, and Georgie’s family are amusingly eccentric. This novel is moving and uplifting, a real pleasure to read. 4.5 stars
This was an enjoyable read with a lot of light humor that was fun and addicting at the same time. Great summer read hanging at the beach or pool. Not to forget a cozy winter day by the fireplace. Kept me grinning all the way through!
I absolutely like this book. It started off weak for me, and I couldn’t pick the book up for a full week because of the boredom I went through while trying to read the first few chapters. I had to stop and push myself to keep going. A lot of people I’ve spoken to said that it does get better, and they weren’t wrong. It did get better, not a lot better than the beginning but it improved. I really wish this book didn’t disappoint me, but I guess I was expecting too much. With a lot of Rainbow’s books I find myself bored in the first ten chapters, but after that it gets better. And to me, ten chapters is a lot, I would understand three, or even five to get us introduced to the world and appreciating it. BUT not ten. While I love Rainbow’s writing, I guess I just don’t appreciate her pace and maybe her books just aren’t for me. I guess I’m more of an Action loving kind of girl. It was very cute throughout the whole thing. It had great dialogue, but dragged on a bit in certain areas. I loved the idea of the plot, it's brilliant, and was carried through very well. I just really wished the book didn’t take so long to get into. I like it a lot, but I can't say I love it. A part I did love was when we saw a little cameo of Cath and Levi :') So much feels throughout that part!! -- Even though this book didn't live up to my expectations, I'll still continue to get excited and read Rainbow's books. I still very much recommend this book, if you’re into contemporary and have read her other books then you should definitely give it a go! :)
If you're looking for a heart wrenching book like E&P, this book is not it. Ever since E&P came out I've fallen in love with Rainbow Rowell and was excited when I heard a new book would be coming out but this book was terrible. It was very predictable and she tried too much to be different by adding as many gay characters as she could. I set my expectations high for her but this one was a disappointment.
Rainbow Rowell is a word wizard. I loved Landline to the point that I don't know how to adequately talk about it because anything I say isn't going to do this book justice and/or will just end up sounding like hyperbole. My best example of why this book made me so incredibly happy is that there is an Amy Sherman-Palladino reference that made me bounce with happiness and now all I want is for Rainbow and Amy to team up and do something together so that I can pass out from my elation. You can't know how happy the Amy Sherman-Palladino reference made me. Also, it's largely about love and what love means and how different people define it and look at it and comprehend it. Which sounds like a large, unwieldy topic, but Rainbow is able to grasp it in a way that makes so much sense. Because she is a word wizard. And also a delight. Landline is a book I will absolutely be a book I read when I feel down because it just makes me so happy. Read it. Just. Read it.
I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to reading more from Rainbow Rowell!
Although I did enjoy this book, it wasn't my favorite Rainbow Rowell book. I had quite a few problems with it, mainly I just didn't like the characters or their love story. It had a few adorable moments, but I just didn't find myself rooting for them. I did however like the message the novel sends. Overtime we get so consumed by our daily lives that we tend to assume our spouses will always be there at the end of the day, no matter what. This story is about what happens when a spouse forgets that it takes two people to make a marriage work. I just kind of wanted to slap Georgie half of the time, I just couldn't believe someone was that oblivious to how unhappy her husband was. And i really didn't like Neal in the flashbacks to the beginning of their relationship, he just really annoyed me! I do love Rowell's writing, even though I had issues with the characters her writing saved the novel for me.
Uninteresting characters at best, insufferable characters at worst. The plot here is surface level and never feels fully fleshed out, so all the emotion and tension falls totally flat, and I personally never cared about anything I'm pretty sure I was supposed to care about. The writing, while not bad, feels like it isn't up to Rowell's usual level, which is disappointing. Overall, not her best.
I absolutely LOVE Landline. I read this book in a day because I could not put it down. I was a little worried about the paranormal aspect of talking to her past-husband, but it worked beautifully and no part of me ever went "No way would this ever happen." Granted, it's there's a high possibility it never will, but this felt real. I fully believe that Georgie was talking to her husband (then boyfriend) who was 18 years in the past. Seeped in reality, Georgie and Neal's marriage is falling apart. She's always choosing work over family and her current choice of choosing work over a family trip to Omaha, it might be the last straw. Taking place over the course of a few days, Georgie attempts to keep herself together while denying her life is falling apart. Refusing to stay in her empty house, Georgie bunks with her mother, stepfather, and sister. It's here that she finds some time portal to the past through her mother's landline, connecting her to Neal 18 years ago. Throughout the course of a few days and a series of phone calls, she reconnects with younger Neal and begins to examine her life. Additionally, Rainbow gives us a peek into the early days of Georgie and Neal, allowing us a full fledged understanding of their relationship. I love the back and forth of the narration (past and present) because we don't just get to see Georgie and Neal as they are now, but as they were then. Young, carefree, and in love. Plus, we get to see their pre-relationship days of easy flirting, which were easily some of the cutest scenes in the book. These flashbacks allow us to become more invested in their relationship and develop a deeper hope that they will pull through. With amazing supporing characters and a romance you can't help but swoon over, Landline will easily be one of my top 2016 reads.
Good read overall
My expectations for this book were non existent. So I was surprised how much I liked it. It was witty and real. Also relate-able in the sense that the characters aren't your generic average characters. They've got a sense of realism about them and that's why they are so good.
Very easy book to read! Flows well! Good story about relationships and whether you think they are worth saving it not.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is floundering. She knows her husband Neal is unhappy. But they've been floundering for a while. And hasn't Neal always been at least a little unhappy? She still loves Neal. And Neal still loves her. But that isn't the point. When Neal takes their daughters to Omaha for Christmas, Georgie wonders if that was ever the point. Floundering without her husband and daughters, Georgie tries to throw herself into work as a TV writer in Los Angeles. After all, that's why she stayed behind in the first place. But she doesn't want to go home to an empty house. She can't focus when so much of her life is somewhere else. Then Georgie uses the landline at her mother's house to try and call Neal. Finally, he answers. But it isn't Georgie's Neal. Not really. Instead she's talking to Neal in the past--at the one other moment their relationship fell apart, almost before it started. With a chance to correct past mistakes, Georgie wonders if the right answer this time is holding Neal tight (the way she always does) or finally letting him go in Landline (2014) by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow Rowell is an incredibly talented writer who covers a range of subjects in her novels. Landline uses the lens of a marriage on the brink to tell the story of Georgie and Neal. Flashbacks follow their relationship from the day they met through significant moments including their wedding, the birth of their daughters and other stickier points including an almost breakup and Neal's proposal (both of which become pivotal to the plot). While a magic phone (or a mental-breakdown-hallucination depending on your outlook) plays a key role in the story, there isn't enough foundation to call this novel a fantasy. While Georgie contemplates issues with time travel and the implications therein, nothing is ever really explained. Georgie and Neal's entire relationship is imbued with a certain sense of inevitability that allows issues of causality, and whether or not time travel is at play, to be glossed over. This is a novel for an adult audience with characters in their thirties. Die-hard Rowell fans will still find a lot to love here, but teen readers (or readers like myself who are not married with kids even) may find it a stretch to get into the same head space as Georgie. That said, things pick up immensely in the second half of the novel. Even with the slow start, I finished this book in a couple of days. Landline is often quite sweet and romantic. There are several moments with very grand gestures. The main problem with the final grand gesture is that it suggests Georgie has to choose between her marriage and her work. The entire structure of the story (from Georgie's breakdown and lack of focus when Neal takes the girls to Omaha to the final big moment) suggests that is impossible to balance both. While that is fine and allowed, I would have liked more balance to show that while it is hard there is room for both work and love. The other problem is that all of those grand gestures lead to exactly zero closure. We never learn what will happen with Georgie's show--the one she stayed in LA to work on in the first place. We never see if the unresolved issues with Seth and Neal hating each other will shake out. And even though the novel ends on an up note, very few of the fundamental problems with Neal and Georgie's relationship are actually fixed. They are both present and they both still care, but we (and perhaps they) still don't know if that will be enough. Rowell's writing is as vibrant and literary as ever in Landline. (Readers familiar with Rowell's work will recognize common themes popping up and even some familiar characters.) The dialogue and observations here are snappy and move the novel along at a fierce pace from one intricately-plotted vignette to the next. While Rowell's voice is always inevitably behind Georgie's narration in Landline, it is a good voice with many things to say.
This book was pretty well written. But it was relatively predictable, the characters mostly believable. I knew it was not on my top list of books because at the end, I didn't think about the characters, or wonder what happened to them, or really cared if I ever knew. The back in time piece on the landline was the clever-ist part of the book.