August 13, 2014

How May I Direct Your Call?

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's Press
Pages: 308 pages
Source & Format: ARC from Alexa
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Thoughts on Landline
Despite Landline being available at BEA, I was never able to work out my schedule to grab a copy. Everything else just felt so much more urgent! I was able to meet Rainbow Rowell when she visited a bookstore in my area earlier this year, so I knew that I wouldn't feel too bad if I missed out on seeing her in New York. Then, the lovely and generous Alexa actually sent me her ARC of Landline, so I was still able to read this book a little early.

So, there's one small thing that probably affected my feelings on Landline: before reading it, I fell in love with After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Why is that a problem? The two focus on a somewhat similar topic - a marriage in crisis. And I am absolutely, totally obsessed with After I Do. So, the whole time I was reading Landline, my mind kept comparing it to that book. I hated that I was doing it, but I couldn't stop myself!

Landline was a good read. I love Rowell's humor, and the way she writes. Her voice isn't like anyone else's, and I love that there almost seems to be a cadence to her writing. There's this rhythm that's all her own, and it's something I've come to love about her books.

And yet, I struggled with this book. I felt like it too a long time for anything to happen, and I wasn't invested enough in the characters to care about them even when things were progressing slowly. I found myself continually frustrated by the characters, although that does indicate that I was engaged enough to have an emotional reaction to them. But overall, I really didn't like them. I thought they were well-developed and layered, but I just didn't care about whether or not they worked out their problems. I'd been so incredibly invested in the characters in After I Do, and I felt frustrated by my detachment to the ones in Landline. I admired that Rowell showed the hard side of a relationship, but, at the same time, I didn't really like what I was reading.

Something just felt off to me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. There wasn't a lot that happened, the characters drove me crazy and I just wanted something more from the story. Even the magical telephone element annoyed me because it introduced more questions than answers. It felt a little lazy - a way to help Georgie reflect on her past - without introducing any real consequences into her present. By the end, I didn't feel satisfied... It was a bit more like ambivalence, and maybe a bit of disappointment. I wanted to love it! Attachments is my favorite book by Rowell, and I was so looking forward to another adult fiction title from her.

I still liked it, however, for two main reasons: the writing style/voice and the themes. Her exploration of marriage felt honest. I loved what she set out to explore: sacrifice, selfishness, love, commitment, etc. This one wasn't a favorite for me, but I know that's partly because I came into with very high expectations and my thoughts clouded by my love for the other book. Of all of Rowell's books, I'd personally be least likely to recommend this one. But this has been a huge hit with so many other readers, so I have no doubt that it just wasn't quite right for me.

So Quotable
"You don't know when you're twenty-three. You don't know what it means to crawl into someone's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems. She didn't know at twenty-three."

5 comments:

  1. So interesting to hear a different perspective! I'm not planning on reading this one -- the magical telephone thing just doesn't appeal to me. I hate to be that person that doesn't read something just because it's popular, but it was seriously starting to feel like every single person out there was reading it and I just didn't get it. I still may try something else by Rowell, but I highly doubt this would have been the book to hook me on her.

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  2. I had a feeling that you might not like this book as much! I hate it when you read two similar books around the same time and you just can't stop comparing the two. I had such a weird experience with After I Do because while I was in the middle of reading it, our cat suddenly died. So it kind of ruined the book for me and I had a lot of trouble connecting with the characters. But I honestly think that if I'd read it at a different time, I would've LOVED it. I think I'll probably try to come back to it one day.

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  3. I have been feeling like this TOO. I was going to read it very close to when I bought it but I didn't after I read Taylor's... I was seriously BLOWN away. :( Not to mention everyone's reviews have been so-so. I haven't felt like it was necessary to read now. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. I think I said this in another comment to you. It's been a few weeks since I read After I Do so I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to pick this up yet.

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  4. Ah, I skimmed this because I just got it and I'll let you know my thoughts... :)

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  5. I can totally see why you'd have a hard time reading Landline so soon after reading After I Do! They are definitely very similar in theme, which makes it hard not to compare them. I did like Landline a smidge more than you did, but i definitely had my own reservations about it as well. I do think it's a pretty solid piece of work from Rainbow Rowell, but I'm still not sure if this would be my favorite of her novels!

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