The concept of marriage can be terrifying. Through generations, what defines a marriage has changed significantly. Love, of course, has always been the ideal, but partnerships have been formed from love and maintained by comfort, companionship, duty and many more things throughout the years. But then there is the kind of love that our generation searches for: a love like fire that stays lit for years and years. This is a love story about the pursuit of that kind of marriage.
In Landline, Rainbow Rowell gives, perhaps one of the most wonderful depictions of a modern marriage I have ever read. Georgie and her husband Neal met, fell in love, and built a life on that love. But years pass and two kids and job shenanigans later, Georgie is wondering about the future of her and Neal. When her job forces her to try and reschedule a Christmas trip to Omaha, where Neal’s family lives, Georgie is struck dumb at Neal’s choice to take their daughters and go without her. Left alone in their home, with only her thoughts, Georgie seeks refuge in her office, and her childhood home. Knowing Neal is terrible with cellphones, and that hers is constantly dying, Georgie begins calling Neal’s parents landline from her mother’s old yellow landline phone. But the Neal who picks up, is not her husband, but rather Neal as her boyfriend, many years ago.
This book is written wonderfully, with signature Rainbow descriptions which won me over yet again. Her characters are so real, so visceral, so perfectly flawed. But my favourite thing about this book was her descriptions of love. Rainbow can write the most realistic and perfect depictions of love. Real love. The kind of love you feel when someone’s ears can be too big, and still perfect. The kind of love that comes from cherishing everything about someone. Not knight in shining armour love. Real love.
Landline is a mature book, with mature emotions, but it made me stop. It made me stop to appreciate the small bits of love that make its existence what we build our lives around. Rainbow, you’ve done it again!