I have read a total of three Rainbow Rowell novels after finishing this book, and I am happy to say I have added her to my list of favorite authors! Every book of Rainbow’s that I have read has been sweet, relatable, and impossible to put down. I read them in a matter of days, enjoying every word. I think she has an incredible talent for writing characters that her readers can fall in love with and empathize with. This is the first time I have read one of Rainbows adult novels (I have read Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, both YA fiction) and I loved it just as much as her novels targeted at teens. I’m not a married mother of two, but I felt what Georgie was feeling and I wanted so badly for things to get better for her and Neal. If you like sweet romances with just a touch of magic, you’ll love Landline and I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t already.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
My rating: 5 stars
1. I love that this story isn’t set primarily in Omaha like Fangirl and Eleanor and Park were. I get that that’s the setting Rainbow knows best, but it was cool to experience her characters in LA instead—thrust in the middle of the film industry (which peaked my interest since I’m studying film and television in school).
2. Rainbow’s books are just the best feel-good novels! If you want a story that you can’t put down until the end, this is a great choice because it’ll be that plus a warm fuzzy feeling when you finish because it’s such a sweet story.
If you haven’t read Landline yet, there will be spoilers below, so come back and read more when you’ve finished this adorable novel!
One of the best things about Rainbow Rowell’s books are the characters. She writes characters beautifully, laying out everything you need to know without info-dumping, but it would be annoying if she did that. Instead, she gradually reveals what you need to know about each character when it’s necessary, and the puzzle pieces eventually fit together. She also writes believable characters. I loved Georgie and her family, and even Seth because they were just living life. No, not everyone is a TV writer getting their big break, but I can read it and believe that this type of story is what might happen in a relationship that’s under strain from work-life balance gone wrong. Georgie has always been dedicated to her career, and her career means spending a lot of time with her writing partner Seth. It’s natural that Georgie’s husband, Neal, might get jealous or annoyed that his wife was putting work before family. Neal stays at home taking care of their two daughters while Georgie is the “bread winner” but Georgie’s work tends to keep her away from home more that Neal would like. When Christmas rolls around and Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go to Omaha with him and the girls to see her mother-in-law for the holidays, it puts a real damper on their relationship. I loved that the daughters were so involved in the story as well because they built on Georgie’s character. I could tell that Georgie loves her daughters so so much, and that it was killing her to be away from them for Christmas. But at the same time, she couldn’t give up on her life-long dream and drop everything to go away for Christmas. When the chance of a life time comes up and Georgie and Seth are so close to finally having their own TV show, she can’t pass up that opportunity. It’s so hard for me to pick one side in the argument between her and Neal. On one hand, I get that Georgie can’t let her career suffer, but on the other I can understand why Neal is frustrated with her.
Then there’s the magic.
When I first heard that there was “magic” in this book, I was skeptical. It’s a contemporary novel that involve magic. That doesn’t really compute. But it worked. SO. WELL.
1. Persistent hallucination.
2. Really long dream. (Or maybe a normal-length dream, perceived as really long from the inside?)
3. Schizophrenic episode.
4. Unprovoked Somewhere in Time scenario.
5. Am already dead? Like on Lost?
6. Drug use. Unrecalled.
8. Interdimentional portal.
9. It’s a Wonderful Life? (Minus angel. Minus suicide. Minus quasirational explaination.
10. Magic f***ing phone.
Georgie goes to her own mother’s house becuase she doesn’t want to go home to her empty house. She feels like Neal left her on bad terms, he’s angry with her, won’t take her calls, didn’t say “I love you” the last time he talked to her on the phone. So she pretty much starts to spiral, until she figures out that her mother’s landline is working as a time-machine to the past. 15 years ago, Neal left Georgie and went to his parents house without her for Christmas even though she was supposed to go with him. They didn’t talk for a week, then Neal showed up at Georgie’s mom’s door on Christmas day and proposed to Georgie. Or so she thought.
In some alternate reality, future Georgie (aka current Georgie in the book timeline) talked to Neal all week. She found out that he missed her, and didn’t mean what he said when he broke up with Georgie and left for Omaha alone. She talks to past Neal for hours on end and both of them figure out that there’s no reason to be jealous or scared. They love each other, and that’s enough. Future Georgie, unbeknownst to past Georgie, convinced Neal to propose to her, even though she did plant doubts in his mind because she was having her own about the relationship and whether it should have ever happened. Neal proposed to past Georgie because of what future Georgie had said to him that week. How much cleverer can a story be? I don’t know. I found the ending a bit predictable, but I didn’t care. It was sweet that Georgie hopped on a plane that may or may not have taken off on Christmas Eve so she could return her husband’s grand gesture from years earlier. It was so sweet that I could push aside predictability and just feel the warmth of the message and the moment.
That’s my other favorite thing about Rainbow’s writing, she always give you a happy ending that isn’t perfect. Everything is not fixed between Georgie and Neal at the end of the novel, but that’s okay because that’s real life. Taking a risk for the one you love doesn’t automatically solve every problem they have, but it helps them realize that they can get through it because they love each other.
What did you think of Landline? I’d love to read about your thoughts in the comments below!
P.S. I don’t have a review of Fangirl, but you can click here for my review of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park!
Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!