"Landline", by Rainbow Rowell, is one of those rare books: it's a romance about a married couple.
It's a romance with a slightly fantastical twist, but the twist is there only to allow for more examination of those long-lived-in relationship between the heroine and her husband. (In other words: even if you're not a fantasy person, I think you'll allow it.)
The storyline goes backwards and forwards in time - a little, I should say, it really is mostly forward momentum - and it examines the fault-lines in the heroine's marriage, as well as all the things that made it good in the first place.
And it has bits I love. Recognizable bits, bits that feel like real life. Like this:
They'd never really danced together before that day . . . It wasn't dancing. It was just a way to make the wedding last. A way to stay in the moment, rolling it over and over in their heads. We're married now. We're married.
You don't know when you're twenty-three.
You dont' know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there.
You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten. 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.
She didn't know at twenty-three.I really did read this quickly. I started it one day and finished it the next. I had to know how it turned out.
I'm a little invested in good marriages, I guess.
The worldview is not Christian, which is worth noting for readers of this blog. There's language and sexual content, though it's not a huge part of the book.
But the honesty of the book won me over. This observation by the main character:
This was how [she] had ruined everything.
By being really good at something . . . By retreating into the part of her life that was easiest.
Yeah . . . how many times have I faced that temptation? Retreating into the part of my life that's easiest . . . I can understand that. I can feel that.
If you're married, if you've been married for awhile, I think this book will speak to you. If not . . . I don't know.* It's a really good picture of one relationship, lived in long enough that all the cracks are showing. And it's hopeful - hopeful that self-sacrifice can be the glue that keeps things holding together.
It's not perfect, by far, and it lacks an eternal hope. But I found it well-worth the read, and I'm grateful for the picture of a love long-loved that it depicts.
Peace of Christ to you,
*I probably wouldn't have appreciated it as much ten years ago, but you're probably better than I am. I also would say that it's probably not for kids and younger teens. Maybe older teens, with parental discretion.
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