Due to the size of my immediate family (3 sisters and 2 brothers) we do a Secret Santa deal at Christmas. All our names (my husband gets to play too – he`s currently the only in-law) (most of my siblings are a lot younger than me) get thrown in a jar/hat/bowl and we pick the name of the sibling we’re going to buy a Christmas present for. A dollar limit is set and off we go.
My sister Phoebe was my secret Santa and she got me my new favourite mug and Rainbow Rowell’s Landline. She is currently my favourite sister (sorry Audrey).
Since it was a gift I really did try and take my time, really savour the reading experience but I read it all in one sitting. Phoebe would totally understand – she does the same thing.
Last year I read and loved Fangirl and Eleanor & Park but I hadn’t read Rowell’s Attachments, which I think was her only other adult effort. I was curious how her writing about and for adults would translate.
Georgie McCool is a comedy writer on a show that she doesn’t really love. Together with her longtime writing partner, Seth, Georgie has been writing on her dream show for years. Now there’s a chance that the show will get made. They have a meeting which could see all their dreams come true but they’d need to have four scripts ready to go for two days after Christmas. Georgie is supposed to go to Omaha with her husband and kids for the holidays. She’s torn between spending Christmas with her family and making her dreams of running her own show come true.
Her husband, Neal, makes the decision for her, taking the kids to Omaha while she stays in LA to work.
At a loose end and nearing a breakdown, Georgie ends up spending her time at her mom’s house, in her childhood bedroom. Her room just happens to have a magic phone that calls Neal in the past, before they ever got married. Is she supposed to change something? Or make sure that everything stays the same?
Rowell’s adult fiction more than passes the test. I found this book relatable, engaging and funny. There’s a whole host of fully formed, slightly odd, characters: Georgie’s mom who has married a man only three years older than Georgie, breeds pugs and favours velour suits; Georgie’s sister Heather, struggling with her own identity; even Georgie’s girls, Noomi and Alice are complete characters – one likes to pretend she is a kitty, the other is very concerned that Santa know that they will be in Omaha. Rowell has a talent for telling more than one story, even if it’s at the periphery of the central story.
I really felt for Georgie even as I was pretty sure that she needed to make some changes to make her marriage work moving forward. Her struggle is one that many modern women have: how much to give to their careers after having a family? Although I have no children yet, I certainly recognized bits of myself in Georgie – I too have a ridiculously wonderful husband who is a better human being than I am 1000%. As I read I asked myself “sh*t am I taking him for granted? Am I like this?”
The best kind of fiction serves as a mirror for us. It shows us a path that we may be on and allows us to make changes to alter the destination. Landline is that kind of book.