Georgie and her writing partner Seth are about to get their big break after years of mediocre TV shows. They’re finally getting the chance to meet with a TV executive on their brainchild show. The only catch is that they have to churn out a number of scripts over the Christmas holidays, much to the chagrin of Georgie’s husband Neal. Neal takes their two kids to his mother’s home in Omaha, leaving Georgie to her work. Convinced that their marriage is on the rocks when she can’t get a hold of him on his cell, Georgie wallows at her mother’s house and discovers that calling Neal’s family home with her mom’s landline connects her to a moment in the past. A moment 15 years in the past during a pivotal moment in their relationship where it will make or break their future.
After having read Rowell’s YA novels (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl), I was excited to dive into her second Adult novel (I have yet to read Attachments). This story has such an interesting premise, where most of it would be considered contemporary except for the one little detail of the apparently time-travelling phone conversations. Like with many stories that mess with time, it does momentarily make your eyes cross a little trying to keep things straight, but at the heart of it, Landline is a story about marriage and the trials and tribulations of that commitment.
Rowell tackles such real emotions and conflicts, especially when the protagonist is a working mom and it’s her husband that’s a stay-at-home dad – an increasing reality in many households. She jumps right into the situations where Georgie has to decide between her career taking off and her obligations as a wife and mother. Georgie must deal with the jealousy that comes with spending so much time with Seth, her “work husband” when her actual husband is home with their daughters all day. I found that at many moments, because of their comedy-writing occupation, I kept picturing Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon from 30 Rock as Georgie.
I flew through this book, not being able to put it down. Rowell forces Georgie to face some very real moments and harsh realities with the use of a “magical” landline phone and that bit of sci-fi twist changes an otherwise familiar type of story to something more. The entire time, right up to the very end of the book, I had no idea what was going to happen. I genuinely didn’t know which route Rowell would take in whether it all works out for Georgie & Neal or not – and I loved that. While there was one road I was rooting for Georgie to take, I’m both surprised and disappointed that it didn’t come to pass – which is really all I can say without giving away anything. A great, quick summer read that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings.