I love a good story with an interesting concept. And it just so happens that one of the most innovative writers out there is Rainbow Rowell. While I picked up Landlines on its release day, I waited until I thought I was ready to read it—because it’s about a broken marriage.
Georgie and Neal are in trouble. Especially when Georgie announces she has to stay at home during their scheduled Christmas trip to see Neal’s widowed mother in Omaha. Neal takes their two daughters, and leaves with things unresolved. While Georgie’s Mom thinks the worst, Georgie tries to focus on work, and dealing with an iPhone that won’t hold a charge. When calls and texts to Neal’s phone don’t pan out, Georgie takes matters into her own hands and plugs in an older, yellow rotary phone into her somewhat re-organized as a shrine to pugs childhood bedroom…the Neal who answers the phone is NOT her husband, Neal. It just so happens that it is Neal from their college days, when their relationship was rocky and new—and Georgie may JUST have an opportunity to save their marriage for good.
I was worried when I read advanced praise and a blurb about this book, as I tend to find bits of myself in Rowell’s characters. The same is true with Landlines, especially considering Georgie is only four years older than me. The idea of a marriage on the rocks is scary and hurtful to me, personally. Mostly because I also see a bit of Neal in my own husband-he selflessly devotes himself to their marriage, and while our marriage is a bit more equal, I am sure when we have kids, he might want to stay at home with them.
Rowell’s character-centered style is just as great as usual. Georgie is instantly likeable; How great is it that she writes comedy? Her potentially being the head of a series (with her best friend) is HUGE, and completely her dream. So many woman might be called to give up their dreams for the betterment of her marriage—I was worried this would be on the table (spoilers—it isn’t, thankfully). Georgie is flawed, but honest and she sincerely loves Neal and their family.
There is a bit of power in a rotary phone—I could clearly see each and every thing about Georgie’s mothers home. In particular, the pugs were also a big part of the plot, to build the suspense. The warmth oozes out of the book, and it was refreshing to get a bit attached to the ancillary characters, without losing that connection to a main character.
Overall, I loved this book, just as a few friends said I would. And I am so incredibly happy that I read it. I was a bit teary at one or two points, but am definitely a more mindful person for having read it.
Landlinesis available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook from your favorite retailer. Check it out today.
Have you read anything from Rainbow Rowell? Do you find yourself hesitating to read a certain book because of themes? Sound off below.