Book review: Landline, by Rainbow Rowell

Friday, 6 March 2015

Every now and then I find a book that I really escape into.

I become absorbed. I believe in the world and its characters and I care deeply about their actions. A good book will nestle itself into my life, will stay in my thoughts, will drive me back to it as often as possible, will be my companion as I do everything - brushing my teeth, stirring the dinner, wrestling my hair into submission, carrying my daughter on my hip.

A good book will stay with me after I finish reading it.

Landline, written by the awesomely named Rainbow Rowell, is such a book. It has been like a soothing balm to my somewhat frazzled self. I found it in the Young Adult section at Waterstones (where it didn't belong - although Rowell has written YA books, she writes books for adults too) and bought it with the intention of saving it to read on our holiday in April (oops).

Here is something I should mention before we start: I'm not a romance novel girl. I don't like a book that is 95% will-he-won't-he angst with an improbably happy ending tacked on. They feel flimsy and shallow and ... lacking.

But I love romance.

I love reading about, well, love. When it's written well. I'm always surprised and happy to find a good love story nestled into a book where I wasn't expecting it, but that's not a very productive way to find a love story, just by accident.

I knew that Landline was about love.

It's the first specifically-about-love story that I've read and enjoyed.

It tells the story of comedy writer Georgie and her husband Neal, who is a stay-at-home-Dad to their two young daughters. Their marriage is at breaking point. Seperated over Christmas due to Georgie's work commitments, she attempts to rebuild the gap between them by calling Neal ... using an old, yellow rotary phone at her mother's house.

I won't say much more here, because the main plot device was actually a nice surprise for me, and I'd quite like it to be surprising for other people. However, I can tell you that there were a few heart-stoppingly tense moments in this book. Moments that had me greedily reading as fast as my eyes could move, to see what happened next.

Landline's rom-com-ish moments work because their relationship feels completely authentic. Rowell explores marriage in a way I haven't seen written anywhere else, at least, not in a fiction book. She explores what it really means to marry someone: to forever entwine yourself with someone else. It sounds simple, but it's not - it's complex, and hard work, and beautiful at the same time. Georgie's journey touches on how to (or sometimes, how not to) juggle your dreams, your career, motherhood, and maintain a meaningful, romantic relationship with the one you love the most, but sometimes take for granted. The in-jokes, the long-standing traditions, the shortcuts you take with one another ... Georgie and Neal's relationship felt real and solid, like a weight backing up the story. You can feel the rich background of their lives together without it ever feeling rambling or self indulgent.

I rooted for Georgie and Neal. I genuinely cared what would happen to them.

The romance was especially enjoyable because it was quirky and realistic and lovely - little things that they would do for each other made me reflect upon the little things that my husband does for me, that I sometimes take for granted. It made me reflect upon our in-jokes, our traditions, our history, our big moments.

Rowell also writes about motherhood in a way that had me nodding in agreement at the truth of it. Or welling up. Or both, like this bit:

'Okay. I love you. I love you both so much.'
'To the moon and back?' Alice asked.
'Oh my God,' Georgie said, 'so much farther.'
'To the moon and back infinity?'
'Meow,' Georgie said. 'Infinity times infinity. I love you so much, it hurts.'
Noomi's face fell. 'It hurts?'
'She doesn't mean it literally,' Alice said, 'Right, Mom? Not literally?'
'No. Well. Sometimes.'


I found every element of this book enjoyable: Georgie's relationship with her best friend and co-writer Seth, and how Neal deals with their friendship; Georgie's upbringing without her Dad, and the later loss of her father-in-law; Neal's career crisis and indecision; Georgie's terrible wardrobe comprising of old t-shirts and ancient, once-pink-but-now-gray-with-underwire-poking-out bras (another thing this book made me do: throw away my old bras); how Georgie deals with the marks motherhood have left on her.

Believable, witty, moving, utterly romantic and surprisingly tense at times: Landline reminded me of how it felt to fall in love and how it really feels to love someone ten years on. It was also the first book in a long time that made me really feel excited - and yes, in love - with reading.

(You can buy Landline here. Also, you should check out Rainbow Rowell's website, too).


  1. This is a great review, has left me really wanting to get the book! I wonder if her name really is Rainbow? Love it!

    1. Ah, thank you! It's a really great book. I hope her name really is Rainbow ;) x


CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan