Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s 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 to 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?Hardcover, 310 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by St. Martin's Press
Three and a half stars: A book that lacked a bit of emotion and depth.
Georgie stumbles in the door, late again. Neil offers to reheat her dinner, and Georgie gratefully accepts. While he warms her food, Georgie quickly drops a bomb on him. She and her best friend and writing partner, Seth, have finally landed the opportunity to produce their dream television show. The catch, they have to have nine episodes written in less than two weeks. That means that Georgie will have to forgo the family Christmas trip to Omaha to visit Neil's mother. Neil grudgingly agrees, but the minute he and the girls leave, Georgie begins to question her decision. Things take a strange turn when Georgie in a desperate attempt to get a hold of Neil, plugs in the old rotary yellow phone in her childhood room. She and Neil spent hours and hours talking on this very phone while they were dating. Georgie calls Neil's mother's landline and gets the surprise of her life. She reaches Neil, but not her Neil, instead she is talking to Neil in 1998 right before they got engaged. Georgie begins to question if this strange magical time phone is her chance to change something in the past. Will Georgie save her marriage?
What I Liked:
- I have become accustomed to Ms. Rowell's feel good, quirky reads with likable and interesting characters who have plenty of flaws. Landline delivers on all these aspects. You get an entertaining, though not exactly believable story line, as you watch Georgie flounder through her past and present trying to save her marriage. If you are a fan of Ms. Rowell, you should enjoy this book, but I don't think it is as strong as Fangirl or Attachments. Still it is an entertaining read worth checking out if you want a light, chick lit read.
- Even though I longed to know more about the how and why as far as the magical time phone went, I appreciated the simple fact that it just was. Georgie doesn't understand why the phone connects her to her past, but she goes with it, and as a reader I accepted it, too. Sometimes with time travel books, it is easier to go with it rather than bog down the book with attempts to explain it.
- Georgie, in the beginning, isn't exactly the most likable character. Nearing her forties, she has been chasing her dream of writing a funny tv show with her best friend and co writer, Seth. Georgie has spent years sacrificing her marriage and family for her job, and when she misses Christmas, it seems to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. When she unexpectedly connects with her past, it was interesting and entertaining to watch her go through her journey of self discovery as she opens her eyes and finally sees all the mistakes she has made in her marriage and life. At that point, it is easy to relate to her, especially as a married woman. I think we all get caught up in our busy lives and we forget the small things. I especially could identify with the analogy of kids being like a tornado in a marriage. Georgie learns a few things, and grasps at the chance to make things better, the question is will it be too late?
- I am not always a fan of flashbacks, but Ms. Rowell manages to work them perfectly into the story. The plot alternates between the present and the past. In the present, we see the disaster Georgia is making in her life, and watch her reach out to her family. I especially liked her interactions with her much younger half sister, Heather. In the past, we see the formation of Georgie's long time friendship with Seth, and the eventual blossoming of a romance between Georgie and Neil. I loved how, for the most part, well these flashbacks were integrated in the book. I loved reaching back and seeing how Georgie feel in love.
- The ending is whirlwind fast and it plays on your emotions. I loved that it closed on a high note, even though I was left with a few unanswered questions. In the end, it wasn't a perfect book, but I thought it was an honest look at marriage and it left me plenty of food for thought. Even though this didn't make me feel as strongly as Fangirl or Attachments, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it.
And The Not So Much:
- I think one of the missteps with this one was that in the present Georgie fails to connect with Neil. Perhaps it has something to do with the magic phone? Either way, the reader doesn't have much connection with Neil in the present. I wanted desperately to hear his side of things like I did in the past. The other problem was that it became rather repetitive how Georgie repeatedly kept doing the same things over and over in the present. Go to work, attempt to write, try and call Neil, rinse and repeat. Soon the present became boring and I wanted more of the past.
- The friendship between Seth and Georgie is a huge focal point of the story, and it was apparent that Georgie had romantic feelings for Seth for a long time, and then it says in the book until she didn't anymore. I felt a bit cheated on this angle. Why didn't anything ever come of the relationship between them? Then there is a little scene in the present, and it still wasn't enough to satisfy my curiosity. I needed more depth on this part.
- Aside from Heather and Seth, the rest of the characters in the book felt underdeveloped. I am used to a well rounded cast of characters in a Rowell book. The mother breezed in and out and had a lot of baggage, like every other mother in a Rowell book. I wanted to know more about her and her relationships. There is a much younger step dad in the book and I was curious about him as well. He pops in and out.
- Heather, Georgie's younger half sister, in some ways stole the show. She was quirky, cute and crushing on the pizza delivery person. I loved the development regarding her crush and I would have loved more on that story line as it was so fun.
- Even though I liked that the end wraps everything up, it was open ended. I wanted to know so much more from Neil's point of view. Did he propose to Georgie because of the phone calls back to 1998? Why didn't he ever return her calls in the present? Was he ready to call it quits? Was he really miserable in the marriage? I honestly think we need another book from Neil's point of view.
Landline was an entertaining book that focused on the ups and downs of marriage. I thought Ms. Rowell presented some believable and flawed characters struggling through the reality of broken dreams and a floundering marriage. I liked the book but I didn't connect as emotionally as I have with her other books. I also wanted a bit more as far as the ending goes. It was a bit more open ended than I would have liked. Still, if you are a fan of Ms. Rowell, pick this one keeping in mind it isn't on par with Fangirl or Attachments.
"You don't know when you're twenty three. You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond kin to skin."
"Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastations. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you'd ever want to."
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.