Georgie McCool and Neal are married. . From the first time they saw each other, it was kismet. They are a couple in their late thirties, married for 14 years, with two young children, Naomi and Alice. Georgie worked with her best friend Seth, writing episodes for a hit comedy show at “Spoon”. Neal drew cartoons there, but studied oceanography which did not particularly appeal to him. When Georgie and Neal have a family, he very naturally settled into the role of house-husband, raising the kids, doing the cooking and the laundry, and loving Georgie, who happily became the breadwinner.
When Georgie and Seth’s big opportunity arises, to break through into the entertainment field writing for their own TV show, Georgie decides not to go with Neal and the children to visit Neal’s mom, in Omaha, for Christmas. Georgie’s mother decides that Georgie and Neal are separated and she creates the setting for it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The story moves back and forth in time through a magic yellow telephone, a landline, a relic from Georgie’s childhood. Georgie has lost sight of the real purpose of her life and has become obsessed with work. Through the phone conversations, she rediscovers a warmth in her relationship that she had lost without even realizing it was happening. Can Georgie save her marriage? Is it really in crisis? Is Georgie living in the past or present? Is she mentally unstable? Can she regain her life or has it been lost in a black hole created by the telephone?
The story is told in simple language. The issues explored are clear-cut and uncomplicated. The family dynamics investigated are unusual. There are few surprises, in either reactions or behavior in particular circumstances, but none would really be relevant. The relationships between a husband and wife were not necessarily the norm, but they were uncomplicated and presented in a straight forward manner. Sibling relationships were addressed, so was teenage love and sexual identity. Parenting roles and a parent’s feelings about having children were also directly confronted. Alternate lifestyles were presented in a very positive light.
Essentially, “Landline” is the story of young love. It is simple and sweet, This was written for adults, but Rainbow Rowell normally writes novels for young adults, and I think this might be more suitable for them, but it could be a crossover. The dialogue sometimes seems silly, fairytale-like, but the story is easy to read and easy to take. It addresses the value of relationships, the way we approach our lives and how we choose our priorities. I listened to it in one day and it was a quick, entertaining “listen”, but essentially, it was a no brainer!