A Fictional Mirror: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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).

My new favourite mug

My new favourite mug

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.

13 thoughts on “A Fictional Mirror: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I love what you say about fiction serving as a mirror! This is the first review of Landline that Ihave read that really makes me want to read the book. Now, I’m sure you’re just as good a person as your husband, but it’s always good to ask ourselves that question!
    I just have to say that I also have 3 sisters and 2 brothers, and we also pick names at Christmas. Isn’t it great when a sister gets your name? I love the mug! One of my sisters got my name this year, too, and she made me a mobile made out of sea glass that she had collected herself. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of it once we’ve got it hung up. 🙂

    • That sounds like a wonderful gift! So personal and thoughtful and beautiful! We only started doing this a couple of years ago, when all the siblings got to a certain age (the youngest is just 12 now) – so far only sisters have given me gifts.
      I’m not a bad person but my husband is a much better person. It’s not a bad thing to remember either. Always room for improvement.
      I’m glad that this made you want to check out this book! Rowell is a wonderful author – even her YA books are relatable when you’re not 16.

  2. Amen sister! I had the exact same reaction to this. I feel the exact same way about my fiancé and when I read this, I saw so many little bits of him in Neil and tons of myself in Georgie. When she watches him cooking and thinks about how lucky she is but doesn’t say anything out loud.. or how quiet and methodical he is when they first meet. It’s amazing how much we can see ourselves in fictional characters. Maybe that’s why they say books can make you a more empathetic person; because books show us the directions our lives could go.
    Love this review :). Also – that mug is fabulous.

    • Right? Just SAY it! Such a small thing but it goes such a long way to making the other person feel valued.
      I think this is exactly why reading makes people more empathetic. Great fiction like this allows you to see the world and maybe yourself from a different perspective; it allows you to put yourself into another’s shoes and that’s the whole point of empathy.

      The mug is really the best. My sister nailed Christmas.

  3. Phew, glad the review is here. The link in the email didn’t work! But, I am so excited to see that a trusted reader loved this book! Since I am reading all TBRs right now, I have this as an option! It’s sitting on my dresser waiting…along with E&P. I can’t wait!

    • That’s not good! I hope that was a one-off email issue!

      I so know what you mean about a review for a TBR book. Sometimes it’s hard to drum up the excitement you initially had for a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for a while. I’m glad to have been able to help and hope that you share some of my enthusiasm for this book! I think you will love E&P – should take you back to the way things were before iTunes and texts and cell phones.

  4. I love when fiction acts like a mirror to your own life — I only wish I could find more books that did that! There seems to be an odd dearth of literary fiction about unmarried women in their 20s.

    I’ve herd some mixed things about Landline, so I’m glad you liked it!

    • You know, I’ve never really thought about it but you’re right! And it IS odd. I mean, there is the whole “chick lit” phenomenon but not all of it is that GOOD. And most of it centres around single women trying to get married as if that’s still the central issue in the lives of single women. Maybe you should write some yourself!

  5. I loved this one. With all of Rowell’s books so far I really have put myself into perspective with the characters in some way. Georgie did make me think about my own marriage for sure.

  6. I loved Eleanor & Park because the characters felt so real. I wasn’t so sure about the sound of this one, but you’ve convinced me. The idea of a phone that calls the past is pretty intriguing!

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