I feel as if I have been very brave reviewing Rainbow Rowell’s most recent book, Landline. She is one of those authors who has dedicated fans (in fact Bex has reviewed both of her YA novels, Fangirl and Eleanor & Park on this blog) and she mostly writes in a genre, Young Adult, of which I am not a regular reader. This novel, however, was an adult romance so I felt I would be on more solid ground. After all, I may enjoy sci-fi and dystopias but many of the books I love and reread regularly – Pride & Prejudice, Enchanted April, the early works of Jilly Cooper – are, essentially, love stories.
So, having established I am as susceptible to a bit of romance as the next woman, I was quite looking forward to this book – as a sorbet to counter a recent diet of courtroom dramas, gruesome crime and bittersweet stories of aging. However, sadly for me, it never quite hit the spot.
The basic plot of a woman who rediscovers how much she loves her husband through a series of phone calls made on a landline which seems to transcend the normal constraints of time didn’t bother me. I love a bit of the unexplained. My problem was mainly that I really, really didn’t like Georgie McCool. I liked her husband Neal, a dedicated house-husband whose masculinity was, refreshingly, not tied up in his career or earning potential and I warmed to her smooth-talking best friend and collaborator Seth and her rather kooky family. In fact I can probably cast the ‘chick-flick of the book’ quite easily – the characterization was clear and lightly handled – until it comes to Georgie.
It took me a while to work out what my problem was and it is possibly related to my age. Georgie is in her late thirties. She is married, with a successful career and two charming children and yet all her internal dialogue reads as if she were the eighteen year heroine of one of Rowell’s YA novels. She is a comedy writer so maybe growing up isn’t a good option for her but it jars me slightly that she is so immature. In fact in conversations, via the ‘magic phone’, she seems younger (in her late thirties) than Neal (who was in his early 20s). If I were in my twenties, or even early thirties, I may not notice this but because I am older I do.
I liked the whole timeslip idea – a bit of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff is always good – and felt that was well handled. Although I did worry at one point that it would all be resolved with a ‘Bobby Ewing in the shower’ moment – showing my age again…I would read another Rainbow Rowell but I think I will stick with the YA stuff as I, personally, feel this is where she is most comfortable. In fact her next book, Carry On, looks quite interesting…