First Posted: 7/13/2014
If you could change your future by repairing your past with only a phone call, would you?
First, let the question permeate. Will there be consequences? Author Rainbow Rowell answers those lingering questions as she sets the tone for her latest novel, “Landline.” Therein, Rowell demonstrates what that second chance looks like as she tells of a marriage on the brink of failure as its given another breath — a twist of magic before the line goes dead.
The novel begins as protagonist Georgie McCool, as a result of a dreamy job prospect, declines a visit to see her husband’s family in Omaha, Nebraska during the Christmas season. Her husband, Neal McCool, having dealt with Georgie’s continuous bouts of flightiness, decides to leave with their children to see his family. While spending the holiday apart, tensions rise between Georgie and Neal until one day, Georgie comes ear-to-mouth with a magical phone — one that connects her to the past. In using the time-traveling phone, Georgie is met with her life before marrying Neal, bearing children, and obtaining her position as a television writer.
Georgie is not your average protagonist. Even in the world of fiction, her character is an all too real and multifaceted individual capable of every range of human emotion. In other words, Rowell has characterization down to a science. Moody, demanding, and at times unenthused with her current lot in life, Georgie reminds us that existence is far from the ideal painting we like to display. It is messy, and through it are bits that have been scratched at and poked through.
“You don’t know when you are twenty-three. You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. […] How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten — in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.”
Still, all things considered, Georgie attempts to find that spark again even if it means making a different choice. Certainly the magical phone allows Georgie to connect with her past, but one has to wonder whether returning to those times has helped or hindered her future. While the line may at first seem blurred, in the end, the novel reveals the reasons in which we make the choices we do — particularly those involving the dreams we follow and the people that become a part of that journey.