Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 2014
Since I loved both Eleanor and Park and FanGirl, I was disposed to also love Landline. And, I did. Landline is different from the other two, however. The first two books are both Young Adult novels and Landline is clearly aimed toward an adult audience.
Here’s my summary of Landline:
Georgie is a screen writer in Hollywood who works obsessively with her best friend Seth. They have a couple of TV shows that have done well, but they don’t seem to be satisfied. They are constantly working hard for their big break.
Georgie has been married to Neal for nearly fifteen years. They have two sweet little girls. Georgie’s career has been the main focus over time and Neal has become the house-husband. He’s done a superb job at it and isn’t necessarily unhappy about it. He does, however, feel as if he is often taken for granted.
Everything comes to a head one Christmas. The family had been planning to spend the holiday visiting Neal’s family in Omaha. But then, Georgie and Seth have a chance to create a new special show that means they must work through Christmas. It’s the last straw for Neal. He takes the girls and goes to Omaha anyway.
This move on Neal’s part really shakes up Georgie. She has a hard time thinking and writing. As they say, she slips into a real funk. She can’t bear to stay at her house, so she stays with her mom, which is another whole story.
Georgie’s mom has a landline phone which Georgie uses to call Neal when her iPhone dies. Something magical happens when they talk on the landline – it’s as if they are having conversations at the beginning of their relationship. The reader gets a good look at how they met, how the relationship developed, and what’s important to both of them.
As I already said, I loved this book. Rainbow Rowell creates characters that makes me so sympathetic to them and their problems. The story is told through Georgie’s voice and thoughts but seems to be told almost exclusively in dialogue. The language is modern and honest. (Meaning, there are a few f words.)
Landline was also a good honest analysis of a fifteen-year marriage. Having just celebrated our fiftieth year of marriage, I may be a bit more sensitive on the subject. Nevertheless, I think anyone who cares about good, long-term relationships will gain something from Landline.
Several reviewers have negatively compared Landline to the author’s previous books. I find that unfair. This is an adult novel and should be examined in that light. Ms. Rowell hasn’t changed the way she creates characters or plots a story. This is still a novel created with the same high quality standards as her previous stories. So, if you loved Fangirl or Eleanor and Park, you’ll love Landline. Don’t pay attention to the negative reviews.
I listened to Landline. I think, with all the dialogue and Georgie’s voice, it was the best way to experience this book. It was beautifully read by narrator Rebecca Lowman.