[I received this audiobook version of Landline by Rainbow Rowell from Macmillan Audio in exchange for an honest review (thank you)! This does not affect my opinion of the book or audiobook in any way.]
Rainbow Rowell’s Landline was one of my most anticipated releases this summer, so when I was approached by Macmillan Audio to review the audiobook version I needed absolutely no convincing. I was thrilled to be killing two birds with one stone: read this highly buzzed-about book and re-familiarize myself with audiobooks. As it turns out, this book was perfect for the job as it was dialogue-heavy and engaging.
Landline starts with main character Georgie McCool coming home with some great news: her pitch for a new TV show went well and now she and her writing partner have a chance to present a few episode scripts to her network. The only problem is that the meeting was set up last minute and, instead of going to Omaha with her husband and two daughters, she has to stay behind in California to work on the scripts. Neal, her husband, doesn’t take this news very well and decides to take the girls to Omaha by himself. Georgie thinks her marriage might be over, until she finds a yellow rotary phone in her old bedroom that allows her to communicate with Neal from the past…
I absolutely loved this book. I had only read Rowell’s Fangirl before this, and while I enjoyed many things about it, the main relationship wasn’t my favourite. (I had trouble being convinced that Levi was as swoon-worthy as he was being made out to be and also wasn’t a huge fan of him calling Cath “sweetheart” all the time.) However, there was nothing I didn’t like about Landline. With Landline, Rowell’s characterization is flawless. Georgie, Neal, and Georgie’s writing partner Seth are such real characters. It is extremely easy to relate to them (though maybe not Seth as much) and I found myself really rooting for Georgie and Neal’s relationship to work out.
Before reading/listening to the book for myself, I read reviews dismissing the book as they thought Neal was being unfair to Georgie. They argued that this was Georgie’s big break and Neal should be more understanding of that and support her all the way instead of shun her for this accomplishment. After reading the book, I feel like this critique was a little unfair to Neal. Rowell makes a really conscious effort to show that Neal has sacrificed a lot for the family and makes it clear that Georgie isn’t always the most selfless person. When Neal’s not around Georgie is pretty much incapable of feeding herself and it is clear that she relies on Neal to do pretty much all of the cooking and cleaning, among other family-related things. And while it’s true that Neal volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad while he figuresout what he wants to do with his life, I also think that Georgie should have a work-life balance, especially when she has two kids. Rowell makes it very clear that her story is not about being conservative or patriarchal; instead, it’s to remind us of the fact that marriages and relationships need work. This is made clear when Georgie starts realizing that she misses having quality talks with Neal everyday and how having a few hours to themselves positively affects their relationship.
Story aside, this wouldn’t be an audiobook review if I didn’t talk about the audio. I think this was the perfect book to listen to on tape as, like I mentioned before, there is a lot of dialogue. Rebecca Lowman’s narration took me a few minutes to get used to (I haven’t listened to audiobooks in a while) but once I got used to the medium again I loved it. She does the characters’ voices really well and does the perfect job conveying their emotions. I could understand each character’s thoughts and feelings perfectly without needing to hear Rowell’s adjectives. To me, that’s the sign of a great narrator. If you haven’t read this book already (or if you would like to re-read the book), I would highly highly recommend listening to it in audiobook format. I’m really glad I did.
Chapter 2 of Landline by Rainbow Rowell, courtesy of Macmillan Audio
- My auditory skills need some fine tuning. It definitely took me a lot longer to finish the book listening to the audiobook compared to if I had just read it.
- That being said, audiobooks might be the thing that make me work out again. It would be the perfect thing to do while doing stationary activities (treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc).
- This would be great for those nights where my brain just won’t turn off. I actually dozed off a few times listening to the audiobook in bed.
- I’m not sure why this wasn’t advertised on the packaging but I was delighted to find an interview with Rainbow Rowell at the end of the last CD! It was really cool to hear, especially since I had never heard her voice before.
Verdict: A wonderful book that definitely reminded me that relationships (romantic or otherwise) take work. It features real and believable characters and has some really great moments. (Neal trying to describe snow to Georgie was so great – especially for a snow-lover like me.)
Read/listen if: You enjoy listening to audiobooks, you want to read on your commute but get carsick and/or drive, want to read/listen to a story that is very real in ways but also very magical. I can’t recommend it enough.
Have you read Landline or any of Rowell’s other books? Are you an audiobook fan?