‘Landline’ by Rainbow Rowell, is heartbreaking, hilarious and clever.
When I first picked the book up, I was surprised – a magical phone, that can help you change your timeline. I love Rainbow Rowell and her writing is amazing, her characters are relatable and her stories are gripping, they make you feel something, make you root for the characters.
And this book is no different.
It tells the story of a woman named Georgie, who is a sitcom writer and is experiencing a failing marriage. She doesn’t know how to fix her marriage, or her sitcom, or her friendship with Seth. Her life isn’t going exactly how she thought it would go, especially when her husband, Neal leaves for Christmas, taking their children with him and she was supposed to go. Not only does this affect their marriage, putting a strain on their relationship, but it also means that Georgie has more time to think things over – and she ends up doing so at her childhood home, with that magical landline phone.
She discovers that when using the old phone, she’d somehow been able to contact Neal, but her old Neal, the one from the past, from before they got married, just before he proposed. In doing so, the reader discovers how they met and where their relationship developed.
What I loved most about their love was that neither of them were perfect, they both had problems, he wasn’t exactly prince charming and she wasn’t the world’s best listener. But they worked together, and I loved that – their relationship proved that marriage is not easy, it’s not perfect, it’s not all kisses and warm hugs, it’s about commitment and compromise – on both sides. When she talks to the old Neal, they talk about their problems and fight over the phone, but ultimately, do not break things off and get along a lot better, than she does with current Neal. While she tries to warn him of what will happen to them, he is adamant that he doesn’t want to lose her.
All while exploring Georgie’s life now – her job, her friends, her family (who are hilarious by the way), it delves into the past, through flashbacks – meeting Neal, kissing him, being with him, married to him, their wedding day, their children. It’s all interwoven so beautifully. It brings about the question – why is their marriage failing? What can they do to change that? And I think the reader, at the end, sees that it needs to happen from both sides – neither of them made the changes they promised to do and in doing so, almost lost each other.
It’s true what they say (whoever ‘they’ are), when you’re about to lose something, you realise how much you don’t want to lose it, how much you need, want and love it, that you fight with all you have to keep it. Marriage isn’t walking off into the sunset, it’s hard work and it’s tiring and frustrating, but if you find that person, who always tries to meet you halfway, then you’ve got something right.
This book made me feel all kinds of emotions – I was so worried that at one point everything would change. But this book proved me wrong, and I was so glad. As heart wrenching as it was to see Georgie fall and question her marriage, the ending made me realise, that yeah sure she’s not perfect and neither is he and while maybe they did rush things, they were perfectly imperfect together.
And that couple, at the end, when Georgie needs a ride to Neal’s parents place, were so freaking adorable. For a second when reading it, I had to go back a few pages, and then I realised that it was Levi and Cath, Levi and Cath together, and engaged. My heart swelled at that point, not only were they both so cute and helpful, but they made Georgie that yes, young love is sometimes doomed, but sometimes, if you’re really lucky and work hard, it won’t spiral out of control, into something bad, but into something better.
Not perfect, no, better than that – familiar, home, comforting, like the air you breathe – it’s forever a part of you. And that’s better than any fairytale ending, fairytales aren’t real, but this kind of love, the one that you plough through snow to get to, the one that has you crying and shouting, staying at your mother’s, in day old clothes, that’s real.