Landline: A Novel

Landline: A Novel

Hardcover | July 8, 2014

byRainbow Rowell

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#1 New York Times bestselling author! A New York Times Best Seller! Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Fiction of 2014! An Indie Next Pick!

From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it's been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply-but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they're supposed to visit Neal's family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can't go. She's a TV writer, and something's come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her-Neal is always a little upset with Georgie-but she doesn't expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she's finally done it. If she's ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It's not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she's been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .

Is that what she's supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

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Landline: A Novel

Hardcover | July 8, 2014
In stock online Available in stores
$21.93 online $28.99 (save 24%)

From the Publisher

#1 New York Times bestselling author! A New York Times Best Seller! Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Fiction of 2014! An Indie Next Pick!From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.Georgie McCool knows her marriag...

RAINBOW ROWELL lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.46 × 6.38 × 1.12 inPublished:July 8, 2014Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250049377

ISBN - 13:9781250049377

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Extra Content

Read from the Book

CHAPTER 1 Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.Neal never made Alice put it away.Apparently bicycles never got stolen back in Nebraska—and people never tried to break in to your house. Neal didn’t even lock the front door most nights until after Georgie came home, though she’d told him that was like putting a sign in the yard that said PLEASE ROB US AT GUNPOINT. “No,” he’d said. “That would be different, I think.”She hauled the bike up onto the porch and opened the (unlocked) door.The lights were off in the living room, but the TV was still on. Alice had fallen asleep on the couch watching Pink Panther cartoons. Georgie went to turn it off and stumbled over a bowl of milk sitting on the floor. There was a stack of laundry folded on the coffee table—she grabbed whatever was on the top to wipe it up.When Neal stepped into the archway between the living room and the dining room, Georgie was crouched on the floor, sopping up milk with a pair of her own underwear.“Sorry,” he said. “Alice wanted to put milk out for Noomi.”“It’s okay, I wasn’t paying attention.” Georgie stood up, wadding the wet underwear in her fist. She nodded at Alice. “Is she feeling okay?”Neal reached out and took the underwear, then picked up the bowl. “She’s fine. I told her she could wait up for you. It was this whole negotiation over eating her kale and not using the word ‘literally’ anymore because it’s literally driving me crazy.” He looked back at Georgie on his way to the kitchen. “You hungry?”“Yeah,” she said, following him.Neal was in a good mood tonight. Usually when Georgie got home this late … Well, usually when Georgie got home this late, he wasn’t.She sat at the breakfast bar, clearing a space for her elbows among the bills and library books and second-grade worksheets.Neal walked to the stove and turned on a burner. He was wearing pajama pants and a white T-shirt, and he looked like he’d just gotten a haircut—probably for their trip. If Georgie touched the back of his head now, it’d feel like velvet one way and needles the other.“I wasn’t sure what you wanted to pack,” he said. “But I washed everything in your hamper. Don’t forget that’s it’s cold there—you always forget that it’s cold.”She always ended up stealing Neal’s sweaters.He was in such a good mood tonight.… He smiled as he made up her plate. Stir-fry. Salmon. Kale. Other green things. He crushed a handful of cashews in his fist and sprinkled them on top, then set the plate in front of her.When Neal smiled, he had dimples like parentheses—stubbly parentheses. Georgie wanted to pull him over the breakfast bar and nose at his cheeks. (That was her standard response to Neal smiling.) (Though Neal probably wouldn’t know that.)“I think I washed all your jeans…,” he said, pouring her a glass of wine.Georgie took a deep breath. She just had to get this over with. “I got good news today.”He leaned back against the counter and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”“Yeah. So … Maher Jafari wants our show.”“What’s a Maher Jafari?”“He’s the network guy we’ve been talking to. The one who green-lit The Lobby and that new reality show about tobacco farmers.”“Right.” Neal nodded. “The network guy. I thought he was giving you the cold shoulder.”“We thought he was giving us the cold shoulder,” Georgie said. “Apparently he just has cold shoulders.”“Huh. Wow. That is good news. So—” He cocked his head to the side. “—why don’t you seem happy?”“I’m thrilled,” Georgie said. Shrilly. God. She was probably sweating. “He wants a pilot, scripts. We’ve got a big meeting to talk casting.…”“That’s great,” Neal said, waiting. He knew she was burying the lead.Georgie closed her eyes. “… on the twenty-seventh.”The kitchen was quiet. She opened them. Ah, there was the Neal she knew and loved. (Truly. On both counts.) The folded arms, the narrowed eyes, the knots of muscle in both corners of his jaw.“We’re going to be in Omaha on the twenty-seventh,” he said.“I know,” she said. “Neal, I know.”“So? Are you planning to fly back to L.A. early?”“No, I … we have to get the scripts ready before then. Seth thought—”“Seth.”“All we’ve got done is the pilot,” Georgie said. “We’ve got nine days to write four episodes and get ready for the meeting—it’s really lucky that we have some time off from Jeff’d Up this week.”“You have time off because it’s Christmas.”“I know that it’s Christmas, Neal—I’m not skipping Christmas.”“You’re not?”“No. Just skipping … Omaha. I thought we could all skip Omaha.”“We already have plane tickets.”“Neal. It’s a pilot. A deal. With our dream network.”Georgie felt like she was reading from a script. She’d already had this entire conversation, almost verbatim, this afternoon with Seth.… “It’s Christmas,” she’d argued. They were in their office, and Seth was sitting on Georgie’s side of the big L-shaped desk they shared. He’d had her cornered.“Come on, Georgie, we’ll still have Christmas—we’ll have the best Christmas ever after the meeting.”“Tell that to my kids.”“I will. Your kids love me.”“Seth, it’s Christmas. Can’t this meeting wait?”“We’ve already been waiting our whole career. This is happening, Georgie. Now. It’s finally happening.”Seth wouldn’t stop saying her name.Neal’s nostrils were flaring.“My mom’s expecting us,” he said.“I know,” Georgie whispered.“And the kids … Alice sent Santa Claus a change-of-address card, so he’d know she’d be in Omaha.”Georgie tried to smile. It was a weak effort. “I think he’ll figure it out.”“That’s not—” Neal shoved the corkscrew in a drawer, then slammed it shut. His voice dropped. “That’s not the point.”“I know.” She leaned over her plate. “But we can go see your mom next month.”“And take Alice out of school?”“If we have to.”Neal had both hands on the counter, clenching the muscles in his forearms. Like he was retroactively bracing himself for bad news. His head was hanging down, and his hair fell away from his forehead.“This might be our shot,” Georgie said. “Our own show.”Neal nodded without lifting his head. “Right,” he said. His voice was soft and flat.Georgie waited.Sometimes she lost her place when she was arguing with Neal. The argument would shift into something else—into somewhere more dangerous—and Georgie wouldn’t even realize it. Sometimes Neal would end the conversation or abandon it while she was still making her point, and she’d just go on arguing long after he’d checked out.Georgie wasn’t sure whether this even qualified as an argument. Yet.So she waited.Neal hung his head.“What does ‘right’ mean?” she finally asked.He pushed off the counter, all bare arms and square shoulders. “It means that you’re right. Obviously.” He started clearing the stove. “You have to go to this meeting. It’s important.”He said it almost lightly. Maybe everything was going to be fine, after all. Maybe he’d even be excited for her. Eventually.“So,” she said, testing the air between them. “We’ll see about visiting your mom next month?”Neal opened the dishwasher and started gathering up dishes. “No.”Georgie pressed her lips together and bit them. “You don’t want to take Alice out of school?”He shook his head.She watched him load the dishwasher. “This summer, then?”His head jerked slightly, like something had brushed his ear. Neal had lovely ears. A little too big, and they poked out at the top like wings. Georgie liked to hold his head by his ears. When he’d let her.She could imagine his head in her hands now. Could feel her thumbs stroking the tops of his ears, her knuckles brushing against his clippered hair.“No,” he said again, standing up straight and wiping his palms on his pajama pants. “We’ve already got plane tickets.”“Neal, I’m serious. I can’t miss this meeting.”“I know,” he said, turning toward her. His jaw was set. Permanently.Back in college, Neal had thought about joining the military; he would have been really good at the part where you have to deliver terrible news or execute a heartbreaking order without betraying how much it was costing you. Neal’s face could fly the Enola Gay.“I don’t understand,” Georgie said.“You can’t miss this meeting,” he said. “And we already have plane tickets. You’ll be working all week anyway. So you stay here, focus on your show—and we’ll go see my mom.”“But it’s Christmas. The kids—”“They can have Christmas again with you when we get back. They’ll love that. Two Christmases.”Georgie wasn’t sure how to react. Maybe if Neal had been smiling when he said that last thing … He motioned at her plate. “Do you want me to heat that back up for you?”“It’s fine,” she said.He nodded his head, minimally, then brushed past her, leaning over just enough to touch his lips to her cheek. Then he was in the living room, lifting Alice up off the couch. Georgie could hear him shushing her—“It’s okay, sweetie, I’ve got you”—and climbing the stairs. Copyright © 2014 by Rainbow Rowell

Editorial Reviews

"The magic phone becomes Ms. Rowell's way to rewrite 'It's a Wonderful Life'.what that film accomplished with an angel named Clarence, Ms. Rowell accomplishes with a quaint old means of communication, and for her narrative purposes, it really does the trick." -The New York Times"While the topic might have changed, this is still Rowell--reading her work feels like listening to your hilariously insightful best friend tell her best stories." -Library Journal, starred review on Landline"Her characters are instantly lovable, and the story moves quickly.the ending manages to surprise and satisfy all at once. Fans will love Rowell's return to a story close to their hearts." -Kirkus Reviews on Landline"Rowell is, as always, a fluent and enjoyable writer--the pages whip by." -Publishers Weekly on Landline"Keen psychological insight, irrepressible humor and a supernatural twist: a woman can call her husband in the past." -Time Magazine on Landline"The dialogue flows naturally; it's zippy, funny, and fresh. The flirtation between young Georgie and Neal is genuinely romantic." -Boston Globe"After the blazing successes of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Attachments, it's become clear that Rowell is an absolute master of rendering emotionally authentic and absorbing stories...While the novel soars in its more poignant moments, Rowell injects the proper dose of humor to keep you laughing through your tears." -RT Book Reviews on Landline"To skip her work because of its rom-com sheen would be to miss out on the kind of swift, canny honesty of that passage, which is typical of the pleasures of Landline -- it's a book that's a joy from sentence to sentence, and on that intimate level there's absolutely nothing unoriginal or clichéd in the way Rowell thinks. Her work is dense with moments of sharp observation.and humor." -Chicago Tribune Printers Row"But a focus on the endings is the wrong one when you're reading a book of Rowell's. What matters most are the middles, which she packs with thoughtful dissections of how we live today, reflections upon the many ways in which we can love and connect as humans, and tacit reassurances of the validity of our feelings regardless of our particular experiences." on Landline"Landline might not have any teenage protagonists, but it does have all the pleasures of Rowell's YA work -- immediate writing that's warm and energetic""More gentle, more real than Douglas Coupland, more smooth and also more clever than Helen Fielding. Truly, slowly, sweetly gorgeous." -The Globe & Mail