Rainbow Rowell is the queen of nostalgia – her books are perfect at conjuring up feelings and thoughts and situations from the past.
I adored both Fangirl and Eleanor & Park (I haven’t read Attachments) so it was with both excitement and trepidation that I approached Landline, Rowell’s forthcoming novel. I wondered how I’d find her writing when the book was aimed at adults, and whether it would hold the magic of her YA books.
Georgie McCool’s marriage is in trouble. Her husband has taken their two children to his mum’s house for Christmas, while Georgie stays behind to write the sitcom that will make her career. Only, now that Neal and the kids are gone, Georgie knows things are beyond wrong.
When she uses the old landline in her mum’s home to try and call her husband, she finds herself communicating with a Neal from the past. Is this the perfect opportunity to fix her marriage before it breaks? Or is it a chance to never start what is now making her so sad?
Landline is full of great, flawed characters, like the previous Rowell books I’ve read. Georgie is likeable, but also clueless at times. Neal in the present time, who we barely see, comes across as a great dad, but also as closed off emotionally. Georgie’s writing partner Seth is charming, but clearly lonely. Georgie’s mum is hilarious, and her sister is sweet and supportive.
But that’s just one way of looking at the characters. Rowell takes us back into the pasts of all those we encounter, giving us a glimpse into what made them the people they are in the present time. Georgie’s memories show her as even more clueless when she was at university, while Seth is selfish. We see a closed off Neal in the past, who opens up emotionally to Georgie as he learns to love and trust her.
Landline isn’t just a doom and gloom serious book though. It’s full of lighter, genuinely happy moments (Georgie’s sister’s budding romance), and funny ones (Georgie’s mums, the pugs). Rowell knows that to tug at the heartstrings you sometimes have to give a little reprieve as well.
And being an adult novel, there is a lot more light and shade within the book, with characters coming to adult solutions about their problems. At times I did feel a little confused, as Rowell’s style for her adult novel is similar to that for her YA ones, and I sometimes felt I needed more of an obvious difference. Still, I loved this book, which is as as beautifully written as Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, and will no doubt introduce her to a new audience who haven’t yet had the pleasure of her writing.
•Landline is released on July 31.
How I got this book: From the publisher, Orion. This did not affect my review.