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'Landline' by Rainbow Rowell: Questions about marriage and love and success

Perfect summer read
courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Rainbow Rowell delves into some uncomfortable issues with "Landline," a story about a successful television writer and her husband, who stays at home and cares for their two daughters. When an unexpected opportunity makes Georgie stay in LA while her husband and daughters visit family in Omaha, it makes her reflect on her marriage and her life.

Once her family is gone, Georgie begins spending time at her mother's house. Her mother and sister are both important characters in the story, but the point is that the only way she seems to be able to talk to her husband is on the old landline telephone in her old bedroom. The catch is that she realizes that she's talking to her husband from before they were married.

There was a Christmas before they were engaged when he went home. Somehow, she is able to call his mother's house and talk to that Neal, the unmarried younger Neal, and question their relationship.

Rowell seems to be taking a bit from Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken." There is a part, referring to the two roads:

"Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back."

What happens if you actually could go back and take the other road?

Rowell brings up the question: If you could go back and warn someone about problems that will occur, would you? And what happens when Georgie talks to the younger Neal and tries to figure out what happened in her marriage?

Rowell's writing is polished and reads beautifully. Her dialogue is authentic and clever, her characters real and sympathetic. Her stories are not just fun to read, but thoughtful.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press, for review purposes.

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