Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Published in 2014 by Orion
My copy: Library
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. Is she going crazy or is this a chance to 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…if that’s what she wants…
A heart-wrenching – and hilarious – take on fate, time, television and true love, Landline asks if two people are ever really on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway.
This is third Rowell novel I have read, and both of those got 7 out of 10 from me. Sadly this one isn’t going to follow suit…!
This book is told in the third person, entirely from Georgie’s point of view. We start in the present day as Georgie’s husband Neal goes to his family home for Christmas with the couple’s two daughters – leaving Georgie behind as she needs to work on a script for a sitcom. We then get some flashbacks to when the couple first met – as well as a quirky third strand made up of phonecalls Georgie makes in the present day, to Neal 15 years ago.
This is an easy read and I found a lot of the more minor characters and situations quite relatable. I liked Georgie’s family – her much younger sister Heather and her slightly mad mother – and I think the depiction of a marriage that was on the rocks was also done well. However I wasn’t so taken with Neal who came across as a bit of a wimp – he was quite a miserable guy and didn’t really stand up for himself at all. I also found Georgie difficult to relate to at times – and was quite put off by the fact that she wouldn’t buy new underwear!
I also didn’t like the “magic landline” thread of the book. Yes, this gave it a unique and quirky edge but it didn’t add anything to the book for me, and was also just way too random to work in the context of the rest of the novel. You could literally have lifted these sections out of the novel and it would have made no real difference to the plot – and I think it may have improved it, as it would have flowed better. It was all a bit slow and while I liked the scenes with Georgie and her family, the rest of the novel fell a bit flat for me. The romance elements wore thin and I sadly found myself not really caring what happened to Georgie and Neal – in fact I half wanted them to split up to put each other out of their misery! Which I doubt is what the author intended. I also found all the descriptions of Neal’s lovely lips made me feel a bit queasy.
I can’t deny this is a well-written book – and it certainly wouldn’t put me off reading more of Rowell’s novels – but I really couldn’t engage fully with this one. The two main characters didn’t work for me which meant that by the end I’d lost interest.