Audiobook Review | Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell Landline Audiobook Book Review Book Cover

[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

Stray observations:

  • 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?

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20 thoughts on “Audiobook Review | Landline by Rainbow Rowell

  1. Naomi says:

    I enjoyed reading your description of the issues they have to work on in their marriage. Yours is the first review that I have read that has been so descriptive and not just gushing. Very helpful!

    As for audio books, I’m afraid it will be a while before I give these a try. I can’t think of any time I might be able to listen for more than a few minutes, except at night, but that’s when I do my reading (and, like you, I can probably read much faster than I can listen to someone else read to me). I also worry that I will miss stuff with someone else reading to me – I am a daydreamer. Even when reading books, I often find myself drifting and will have to go back and repeat a section. I find it fascinating that I can read and think about someone completely different at the same time. It comes in handy sometimes when reading to the kids, but no good when reading my own books.

    • kmn04books says:

      Thank you! I definitely had those gushy feelings but I felt like I owed it to the book (and you guys) to explain why I loved the book so much. I think a part of why it took so long for me to get through the audiobook too is that I kept zoning out/getting distracted by other things so I had to rewind and listen to full chapters again! Having physical pages to flip back to definitely has its advantages so I can definitely see where you’re coming from!

  2. Charleen says:

    That’s interesting that you’ve found most reviews criticizing Neal… most of the ones I’ve read have sided with him over Georgie.

    Personally I liked Attachments and Fangirl over this one, but I did like it more than Eleanor and Park, which I just couldn’t get into.

    • kmn04books says:

      Oh, I definitely read other reviews who understood Neal’s perspective but I think maybe the negative reviews lingered with me a little more as I had only heard good things about the book prior to reading that.

      I actually haven’t read Attachments yet but I already own a copy, so I think that will be my next Rowell read!

  3. alenaslife says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you liked the audio version. That might be an option for me as I can probably get that faster at the library than the print version. Looking forward to it.

    • kmn04books says:

      Yes – that seems to be the case at my library too. I would say go for it! This one is especially great because there’s a lot of dialogue, so Lowman (the narrator) really gets to thrive.

  4. Jessica (Msbooklover89) says:

    Loved your review and that picture!! I really loved this book and I could see both sides – Neal’s and Georgie’s – how she puts work first and I just love how real the characters were and it was so interesting – I especially loved the phone conversations so cute 🙂 I’m so glad that Rainbow Rowell writes both YA and Adult – definitely check out Attachments (especially since it’s her other adult chick lit and my fave of hers) and Eleanor and park! I do want to listen to more audiobooks but I’m quite picky with it! I have only had amazing success listening to two books that are nonfiction and read by the author because it’s like they are talking to you rather than having to follow a fiction — they were Seriously I’m kidding by Ellen Degenerous and Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert I definitely want to check out more nonfiction and maybe one day a fiction but it will have to depend on the book! I love that you used your Walkman I never thought of doing that I listened to both of those on audible and it was so convenient having the app on my phone and able to listen to it with headphones while doing other things!

    • kmn04books says:

      Thank you so much, Jess! I loved how Rowell showed both sides; it definitely helps readers understand the characters and the situation more! I actually have Attachments at home so i think I’ll be reading that one next 😀

      I agree that audiobooks can be hit or miss. You really don’t want to get stuck with a narrator that you don’t “click” with! I agree that non-fiction audiobooks read by authors is great though! I heard Tina Fey’s Bossypants was hilarious to listen to and I’d imagine Ellen Degeneres’ book would be that way as well!

      My phone is not a really high tech one so I rarely use apps on it but that sounds so convenient! I also heard that with some apps you can choose to speed up or slow down the narrator. i think that’s super cool! Technology, eh?

  5. Words for Worms says:

    I loved Landline! Rainbow Rowell is one of my super favorite authors. I’ve been getting really into audio books lately. I recently discovered that I can listen while working. It’s weird, but since I work with numbers and charts, it’s like a different piece of my brain is being used so the books don’t distract me. It’s pretty exciting, actually :).

    • kmn04books says:

      That’s awesome! I don’t think I would be able to do that at all, haha. (My math/number literacy is atrocious and need undivided attention when it comes to it.) I definitely feel like listening to more books on audiobook now though after this great experience!

  6. Amy Sachs says:

    Landline was wonderful, like the rest of Rainbow Rowell’s novels, but I would imagine the audiobook made it really come alive, especially since you listened on a walkman! I’ve only listened to a few things on audio…my favorites were parts of The Goldfinch, which was amazing in both formats, and One More Thing, by BJ Novak, which he read himself and was hilarious. I love them for long drives or while I’m working!

    • kmn04books says:

      Definitely! Lowman did an amazing job narrating it. I think One More Thing would be sooo great in audiobook. I will always be at least a little intrigued by audiobooks that are read by the author. Novak being an actor makes me all the more intrigued as I feel like he’d be able to add a unique spin on his stories that others might not. I’ll have to check it out!

  7. DoingDewey says:

    This sounds so good! For a long time, I wasn’t really convinced by all the positive reviews Rowell’s book were receiving, but lately I’ve been reading many that have me intrigued. This latest book sounds as though it deals with realistic issues and has believable characters, which appeals to me a lot. Great review!

    • kmn04books says:

      Having not read Attachments, her other adult book, I would definitely say that you should check this one out first if you’re looking to read something by Rowell. This is my second Rowell book (Fangirl being the first) and I definitely liked Landline much, much more. (Thank you!)

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