Read from my local library
Georgie McCool is a script writer for television and has been looking for her big break for years. She’s worked on other shows but now she has the chance, with her writing partner Seth, to pitch their own show. They need a few workable scripts but there’s just one problem: Georgie, her husband Neal and their two daughters Alice and Noomi are supposed to be going to Omaha to visit Neal’s mother for Christmas. She knows Neal will be upset with her when she pulls out of yet another family event but what she doesn’t expect is him going to Omaha anyway – taking the kids and leaving her behind.
Georgie can’t help but wonder if perhaps this time she’s pushed Neal too far. He’s always been incredibly understanding about her job and her working relationship with Seth, in fact he quit his own job to be a stay at home father to their children when Georgie couldn’t find a daycare centre she liked. But everyone has their limits and when she can’t even get hold of Neal in Omaha, Georgie wonders if he’s deliberately avoiding her.
But then, in her teenage bedroom on an old phone, Georgie finds a way where she can communicate with Neal – but it’s not the Neal of now, it’s the Neal of the past, during a brief break in their relationship. Here Georgie has a chance to maybe fix things, issues that are deep seated and get everything out in the open. Perhaps fix her marriage right from the beginning. Or the opposite could happen and Georgie could change things so much that their marriage might never take place.
I have to say, this review pains me to write. Because I have loved Rainbow Rowell’s other three books so much – I sang the praises of Attachments, I really enjoyed Eleanor & Park and I thought Fangirl was quirky, cute and portrayed moving to college well. And so I was obviously looking forward to reading this one, believing that it would be pure gold as well. After all when you find an author whose books you love and admire so much, it’s hard for them to put a foot wrong.
For me, Landline is the book that puts a foot wrong. That’s not to say it’s a terrible book – it isn’t. I finished it and it took me no time to read through it. But there’s no denying that for me, this story lacked the charm and wit of Rowell’s previous books as well as characters that I cared about. Georgie wasn’t particularly someone I enjoyed reading about and there was little I really liked about her grumpy husband Neal, who by the sounds of it, was basically born grumpy and proposed to Georgie with the stunningly romantic line “I love you more than I hate everything else.” Seth, Georgie’s writing partner is a shallow man-child who seems stunned that Georgie chose someone else over him so many years ago and like he can barely refrain from rubbing his hands together with glee when it seems there are some deep cracks appearing in Georgie and Neal’s marriage. Most of the cracks are Seth-related, who doesn’t seem to understand that Georgie has a life outside of work, with a husband and children and even though they’re a team, it seems he’s the driving force behind this work-through-Christmas campaign. Almost from the moment Neal and the children leave, Georgie realises that she’s made a mistake and this is one time when work shouldn’t have come before family and therefore she’s basically useless in every meeting they have. But yet Seth keeps bothering her, keeps demanding things of her instead of basically just saying to her, “Georgie, go. Go and be where you want to be, we can postpone this and fix it after Christmas”. Despite his grumpiness, Neal appears to have had the patience of a saint up until now because it seems that Georgie spends far more time with Seth than she does at home. That’s not to say she doesn’t love her family, it’s clear that she does. But she doesn’t seem to prioritise them the way she does her career.
This book just feels so….well, whiny I suppose. And the phone tag that Neal and Georgie seem to play goes on for far too long to really be believable in this day and age. I have an iPhone too and the battery on that sucker is terrible but the amount of times Georgie calls Neal in Omaha and he’s just no where to be found ended up getting on my nerves. The phone calls to previous Neal didn’t really work for me…. maybe because I’m not entirely sure of what was happening there? Maybe we’re not supposed to or maybe I’m just incredibly stupid. I found myself just turning the pages, going through the motions so I could find out what happened in the end. I have to say though that the ending was somewhat pleasing to me. It was nice to see Georgie make the effort, which to be honest, didn’t sound like something she did all that often. But all in all, this one felt lacklustre and I found it really hard to maintain interest.
Book #208 of 2014