Landline is another charming little outing from Rainbow Rowell, which I enjoyed despite not always managing to suspend my disbelief in a magical time-travelling telephone landline that connects our protagonist to her past, and despite thinking that her husband was an asshole who needed to grow the fuck up.
Georgie McCool has her dreamjob writing TV shows, but her marriage isn’t quite so idyllic. With her husband already pissy at how much time she spends away from home (despite apparently understanding that this would be the case from the beginning of their relationship), when her pet project is greenlit and she’s required to write a season of episodes over the Christmas period, therefore having to miss a visit to his family home, he leaves her behind in a snit. Obviously, this is all Georgie’s fault for daring to pursue the career she’s always dreamed of and so, despite apparently being an adult, her husband Neal then spends the week ignoring telephone calls, not returning messages, and hanging out with his old girlfriend while he leaves the kids with his folks.
With her husband’s easy abandonment of her, Georgie can barely spare a thought for the episodes she’s supposed to be writing and instead winds up back with her family, trying constantly to get hold of Neal. But the only calls to get through to him are those made on the landline in her old bedroom – and they’re not connecting to Neal in the present day but to the last time he abandoned her at Christmas, just before their engagement. And so, in the absence of any contact in the present day, Georgie spends her time talking with 1998 Neal, becoming more and more certain of her love for him and her need to fight for her marriage.
As you can probably tell already, I really didn’t think much of Neal. And while I can appreciate that it can be difficult being the partner that remains at home whilst the other works, it wound me up that this was being held against Georgie despite her being very clear from the very start that her career was her priority. It also super pissed me off that Georgie was the one required to change to make her marriage work, while Neal got to behave like a sulky teenager and get away with it.
If I’d been rating solely on the above, Landline would have got a lower rating than I finally gave it. That’s all down to Rowell’s writing, which always manages to hook me and sees me sat up way past bed-time, frantically turning pages. Her characters all feel like real people, and each of them are interesting in their own right (I would definitely read another book just about Georgie’s sister, Heather).
And so, while this wasn’t my favourite of Rainbow Rowell’s books, it was still a very good read.