My Rating: 4 Couches
I'm still a mess from this book. I won this book in a First Reads Goodreads giveaway, thanks!
Landline by Rainbow Rowell is about Georgie McCool and how she's worked her whole life to achieve greatness as a comedic writer in show business. Her work is finally going to pay off, but it turns out she has to give her husband and kids one more blow-- she has to work through Christmas with her best friend Seth to put together the perfect show. Neal has become the stay at home dad and sweeps off the kids to the grandparents in a huff, and Georgie has to re-evaluate her priorities. Can she remember why they are together in the first place and save her marriage if there is a way to?
I'll be honest. The way that this opens really pissed me off. Some of it is my own personal baggage, because I'm very much like Georgie in a lot of ways. I'm a physician, so the fact that she has to work over Christmas isn't very shocking to me. I've had to work a number of Christmases in the hospital, and my husband has had to not see me for many holidays of the year. My husband's a lot more awesome and tolerant than Neal though, so I'm lucky. But it just really hurt me to see that this was finally her big break and suddenly, Neal throws a temper tantrum and takes the kids to see his parents. If this happened to me, I would have encouraged them to go without me-- the fact that Georgie expected them to stay behind was also weird to me. She's going to be working the whole time, so why force the hubbie and kids to not see the family too? I guess the difference here is that Georgie has a choice to not work on Christmas-- but it's not a very nice choice. Either she has to fulfill a lifelong work ambition, or she has to focus on her family and lose this huge possibility in her life. I think this could have been portrayed a bit differently to make everyone a bit more understandable from the get go. Like make it more obvious how Georgie has neglected the family for years for her career. We get some of that in the rest of the book, but in my opinion, Georgie is just really hard on herself.
That said, the parallels to my own life are too uncanny, and left me sobbing in my bed after I stayed up all night reading it. I couldn't help but root for the two of them, no matter how strange a couple they might have seemed. I couldn't help but picture my own family 5-10 years down the line and it's totally possible that we might be in the same situation. The only difference (which is a big one), is that I would never ever want my husband to leave his job to just take care of the kids. I could definitely see that being a big problem and the resentment building up. I do have the more intense career-- I want to go into research, which surprisingly, isn't that much different from what Georgie's doing. I have to be creative, I have crazy deadlines, and I've always been work focused my whole life to achieve my goals. And it's taken me from home responsibilities a lot. When we argue, which is like twice a year, it's because I'm not doing enough around the house. I can only imagine when our first child is born in a few months, it'll just get worse.
Because of my background, I really understood what Georgie was going through on a personal level. She realized her marriage is on the brink, and she's struggling to keep a balance with her work, but there can't be a balance if Neal just removes himself from the equation. I was pissed that Neal refused to talk to her (although maybe this was a plot necessity), because regardless of how mad he was, he should at least give her a chance to apologize and talk about how they are going to make things better. Georgie tries to make amends early on, but instead finds out something really special about her landline. A possible connection to the Neal who proposed to her many years ago.
I get it. And Georgie makes somewhat of a heartbreaking decision to save her marriage. I feel like I'm in a position to realize how much it must have taken her to come to this, although I would do the same. I would sacrifice a lot to save my marriage. I'm still not convinced they'll necessarily make it-- there's too much built up resentment for it to be anywhere near easy. And I completely sympathize with how Georgie feels about Neal. I feel the same way about my husband. Like I don't really deserve him. I think that's how many women feel when men take up the mantle in the home. Although this happens in reverse all the time, where women do everything at home, and the man focuses on the career, when we women do it, there's just a whole lot of guilt involved. Like we should be able to do everything and when we can't, we're a complete failure because of it. I definitely feel that way a lot. And I completely realize how lucky I am. I just hope that I can get my act together (and I've been trying harder and harder over time), before we come to a breaking point like Neal and Georgie.
Overall, an emotionally wrenching read from Rainbow Rowell-- it starts off rocky, but attains depth and at least for this reader, strikes such a personal chord that it left me a sobbing mess in which only good books can do. It's worth a read.
What did you guys think?
And as a bonus, a very nice Macmillian publicist, Esther (Thanks!) gave me a clip for you guys from the Audio version on the book! Let me know what you think!