September 27, 2014 • Cee • Reviews

Rainbow Rowell - LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell
July 8, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
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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?

First sentence: “Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.”

I adore Rainbow Rowell, but what a letdown, this book was. (Yoda coming out here. Ha!)

Landline takes place over the course of a few days around Christmas. It starts with Georgie, the main character, unable to make the trip to Omaha to see Neal’s mother because she has writing to do for a new TV project. Her husband, Neal, decides to go anyways with their two daughters, leaving their relationship very much up in the air. In the mix is a magical telephone that allows Georgie to talk to past-Neal. And well, stuff happens.

To me, Landline is very much about communication, which is the thing that Georgie and Neal lack. Georgie doesn’t know where she and Neal stand since they are apart from each other—both mentally and physically. I think that Rainbow Rowell did a good job translating that into the story, but not so much to communicating to her readers why it matters. I’m still left wondering why I should care about the problems Georgie faces.

Five Things I Needed in Landline, But It Failed to Deliver

  •  Character Connection

If this book was a ship, it wasn’t properly anchored down. I didn’t connect with Georgie enough to care about her or her marriage. I just felt like I couldn’t relate. I didn’t get a sense of the supporting characters. They just came and went, not really helping the plot along. Georgie was in her own little bubble, whilst everybody else was a mile away.

  • The Mysterious Neal

Like Georgie, I didn’t know what was going inside Neal’s head. It makes sense that readers don’t get to know what’s inside his head, but it would’ve helped in showing them what exactly about Neal was so great. (Well, at least more flashback scenes of Neal.) Even with Georgie’s thoughts of him, I still couldn’t see why Georgie was in love with him. He was this enigma that I wanted to understand.

  • Plot Going Somewhere

Georgie’s life is very much at a stand-still.  It felt like the entire plot was suspended in mid air—not at all moving forward. It was just Georgie trying to figure out what went wrong with Neal. All I could remember about what happened were Georgie constantly moping around and wondering why Neal wasn’t going to call with some flashbacks and writing for her sitcom with her writing partner. Nothing truly exciting.

  • More Flashbacks

I enjoyed the flashback scenes of Georgie’s college days than I did about the present day. I just wanted to know more of what life was like for Georgie back then in college and when she was first pregnant. If the book had more of that, I think it would further emphasize the distance between Georgie and Neal from then to now.

  • The Phone Needed To Be More Than It Was

I was expecting the telephone to be more than it actually was. It, simply, was a phone that allowed Georgie to speak to Neal. She didn’t alter anything even though I kind of wanted her to (I wanted a “what could’ve been” scenario). However, I did like that the phone allowed Georgie to communicate better with Neal (even if it was past-Neal).

Landline failed to entertain me as well as made me care for the characters. That lack of connection ruined any type of enjoyment I may of had for the book. Why should I care about her marriage with Neal when I still felt like I was missing a big puzzle piece? I was just bored, and I felt the writing style didn’t fit the content of the book. I wanted more descriptions and scenes of times when their communication was great. By the end, I didn’t feel like Georgie and Neal resolved their issue. A grand gesture at the end doesn’t magically make everything okay. All I’m left with after reading this book was “what happens now?”


3 Responses to “REVIEW | Landline by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. I’ve not read Landline yet and your review is not the first to say the book was a let down. I love Rainbow Rowell’s work so I’m actually quite worried going into this one now. Great review my dear.

  2. Ashley says:

    I totally agree! I thought this book had a lot of potential, but didn’t deliver. For me the main problem was the ending. I felt like I never actually saw Georgie and Neal fix anything. It’s more like:

    *** SPOILERS ***

    she just woke up one day and decided to try to start over with Neal, so she ran to go meet him, and suddenly everything was okay… But it wasn’t okay to me. Why was he giving her the cold shoulder the whole time? And ignoring her? Nothing felt resolved to me!!

  3. Stormy says:

    I’m reading Landline right now actually, but I agree with a lot of your review. It’s by no means a bad book, but I’m about 60% through it & it’s definitely my least-favorite Rowell book. The writing is nice & I do like Georgie for the most part, but I agree with the character connection. Most of the time Rowell seems to make her characters fly off the page & come to life, and I just don’t feel that here.

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