Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Book Review: Landline*

*This is a re-post from a previous entry in the blog. Because, Christmas is coming home.

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Georgie McCool's marriage is in trouble. Her husband leaves for Nebraska a few days before Christmas bringing their two daughters along. Georgie chooses to stay in Los Angeles to work on a big script with a bosom friend and work partner, Seth. Torn between her career and her marriage, Georgie is pressured to make a decision with the help of an unlikely gadget from the 90's.

What worked

This is a classic Rainbow Rowell novel: the quirky characters; the witty dialogues; the wonderful promise of conflict to come that is established on the first sentence of chapter one; the exciting middle parts that make you want for more when you reach the last page. These are all there for the taking. But this time, Rowell drove me closer to home. In Landline's pages, I found myself as an adult.


Her story is my story. And I feel validated. For this I am thankful that there is a romance writer out there who amplified the beauty of a married working woman's dilemma.

What may not work for some readers (but definitely worked for me)

Not all readers, women especially, will easily grasp the choice Georgie made at the end of the novel. But if you have been lost in love, then you will understand Georgie's choice. It doesn't help that Georgie arrived at "the choice" through an analog phone. Then again, this intervention from a 90's gadget is, as I take it, a metaphor of going back to what is basic and fundamentally essential in Georgie's relationship with her husband, Neal.

In moments when we are led astray by our own decisions and life is slowly falling apart, all we need to do is to go back to the beginning of things to find our balance once more. Isn't this romantic? That is why the rotating telephone intervening between time and space in Georgie's past and present relationship fits in the novel's plot. It is Neal and Georgie's connection to where their story of commitment began.

But the question of using another object to bring Georgie back to basic remains. She could have read letters, diaries, looked at pictures, even watched videos of their time together. No. Listening is different from looking and reading. Looking and reading involves cognition. Listening involves the emotions. Georgie needed to know what was going on affectively with herself and with Neal. The telephone conversation provided her with that affective knowledge. She needed to listen to Neal and to herself to understand the most important thing in her life at that moment.

And then, Rowell pulled another trick from her bag: Neal at Georgie's door step making his choice and taking that leap of faith.

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