Attachments, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl all managed to make me a Rainbow Rowell fan, all gaining five stars review from me. So obviously, I was really excited for Landline, Rowell's second adult title. Some of the excitement paid off, while a part of me was left a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Landline. Not just as much as I expected.
Georgie is a TV comedy writer, working on a writing team for a popular sitcom while dreaming about her own network show with her best friend Seth. When her dreams about the show she has been working on since college start to come through, she has to skip a family holiday to Omaha to stay in Los Angeles to work with the show. This means that her husband Neal and her two daughters travel away for Christmas while she stays at home, eventually ending up staying at her mother's place.
After Neal and the girls leave, Georgie tries her best to contact Neal, but fails continually. Their marriage has been in strains for a while and though she loves him and her children more than anything, she feels like she's a fourth wheel in a vehicle that runs perfectly with three wheels - she isn't necessarily needed, or at least that is how she feels. Finally, when she calls him via the landline at her mother's house she gets a connection but quickly realizes that she isn't talking to Neal of the present day - somehow she has found a connection back to 1998 and the days they weren't married yet, to a time they were in love but quite unsure about their future.
At first, the time traveling phone freaks her out. But once she talks to the 1998 Neal more, she realizes that she misses him more than she ever realized. Not the Neal from the past, but the Neal of the present time, the Neal that isn't answering to her calls. The works starts to pile up and she isn't able to concentrate - she knows that she has to do something to get her family back, but at the same time she isn't ready to let go of her career and her dreams.
Though I enjoyed the whole time traveling, magic phone aspect of the novel, I was slightly disappointed about the fact that Rowell doesn't really explain HOW the phone works the way it does. Georgie tries to figure out the mechanics of the phone, but only very briefly (I think almost too briefly - like if I had a phone like that, I would probably only ponder about how it works and nothing else). Maybe I am just overly curious or something, but I really wanted to know more about this phone.
Georgie is a bona fide Rowell character - funny, slightly troubled, ordinary, honest. I loved the fact that she is a comedy writer because some of my favorite people ever are TV comedy writers (Fey, Poehler and Kaling - I'm talking about you). I know this novel was not about her work as a comedy writer but as a wife, but I kind of wished there would have been more about her work and the world of television comedy writing. I also wanted to know more about Seth, Georgie's best friend. It is interesting because he's the guy who would be perfect for her, but she fell in love with someone else, someone who really isn't her match. I guess that's the whole "opposites attract" thing right there in action.
I feel like Landline was very different from Attachments, Rowell's debut novel and her previous novel for adults. Whereas Attachments reads like a romantic comedy, Landline reads more like a romantic drama/modern woman's film - a film about a woman trying to figure out what to do with her life and her family while learning something new about herself. As mentioned before, Georgie is an interesting main character and definitely one I would like to see in film format as well. She is strong, loving and driven. Though she loves her family, she also loves her job and her career. For a different type of reader and one who has dedicated her life for family and children, Georgie might seem selfish for making her husband "suffer" in a life that he did not want, but I personally loved the fact that she wants to keep up with her work and realizes that thought she is a woman, she does not have to necessarily be the one who sacrifices everything. Pretty much, in conclusion, YAY FOR STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS!
Landline is entertaining, touching and well written. The story is well paced and constructed and the character development from the college aged Neal and Georgie to the present day was well established through flashbacks and the phone calls via the magical landline. The lack in explaining the workings of the phone left me a bit disappointed and thus made me give this one only four stars, but other than that, I really recommend Landline to everyone, especially the fans of Rowell's previous novels. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Ps. If you are familiar with Rowell's previous novels, be in the lookout for some familiar faces from this one!