When I went to YALC at Earl’s Court last month, I knew that Rainbow Rowell would be there but I didn’t know that her latest novel Landline would be available to buy and then get signed by the lady herself. So of course, I picked up a copy and queued up to get it signed. I noticed that Rainbow had written “Meow!” on the title page along with her signature. Anyone who knows me personally will know only too well how much I love cats and so I was delighted but a little confused about why it belonged within Landline. Having now read the book, I fully understand!
Having not read her debut novel Attachments yet, Landline was my first adult Rainbow Rowell novel. It follows comedy TV writer Georgie McCool who is married to both her husband Neal and her exciting career. One Christmas, she is forced to sacrifice joining Neal and their two young daughters on a festive trip to Neal’s mother’s home, in order to work on one of her shows that looks set to make all of her dreams come true. Before Neal and the girls Alice and Noomi leave for Omaha, Nebraska, tensions between Georgie and her husband are high and they part on shaky terms.
While her family are away, Georgie spends most of her time at her mother’s house with her mum, stepdad and younger sister Heather. Finding a mysterious yellow landline phone in her old bedroom, Georgie rings Neal at his mother’s house. Instead of the Neal she married, she reaches the Neal from fifteen years ago. After getting over the initial shock of owning what appears to be a magic phone, Georgie realises that she has the power to mend their fraying marriage and rekindle the love between herself and Neal.
Landline is both hilarious and emotional in equal doses. Georgie and her best friend/writing partner Seth have a great dynamic relationship that produces countless jokes and is the perfect example of a grown-up, platonic friendship. Although there are moments when you wonder if Georgie and Seth do have a sexual attraction to each other, it’s always clear that Georgie is madly in love with Neal and cannot imagine being with anybody else. Even in the chapters which look back to their college days, it’s always obvious that she only ever has eyes for her future husband which causes the reader to urge them to work out their issues.
A message that Landline leaves you with is the mantra that true love will always win out in the end. It has a tearful but beautiful ending that leaves you on a cloud of hope that no matter how bad things may seem to get, they’ll work out as long as the love remains. I saw so much of myself in Georgie even though I am a good 10-15 years younger than her. It says a lot about Rowell as a writer that she has managed to make a connection between me, a 23-year-old British girl and Georgie, a 30-something American mother and wife.
I’d recommend Landline to both Rowell’s YA readers and adults alike. The characters in Landline are so easy for anyone to relate to and will provide you with the perfect mixture of laugh-out-loud moments and a tearjerking conclusion with plenty of philosophical asides about life and love thrown in. Give it a go, whoever you are because I guarantee that it will become a favourite!