I’m on a reading roll in 2017! I’ve just finished my 4th novel toward my Goodreads goal of 18, and I’m pleasantly surprised that I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the books I’ve read this year so far.
I can now add Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments to the list of novels I’ve enjoyed and felt very entertained by. I have been meaning to read a book by Rowell for a long time now, and I always thought I would pick up Fangirl first. That wasn’t meant to be the case apparently, because I ended up finding Attachments last weekend in my local Indigo and felt like I may as well pick it up and give Rowell’s writing an immediate try. Attachments was a book that I would describe as incredibly pleasant, light and fun. It wasn’t groundbreaking or earth-shattering by any standards, and I don’t know that any particular moments will remain memorable to me, but I was excited and eager to read more each day.
What I liked best about Attachments, interestingly enough, was not the romance or the “chick lit.” portion of the plot. Lincoln and Beth’s mutual infatuation certainly was the driving force of the novel and did come across as very cute and endearing, but I actually liked learning about the characters’ separate lives a lot more than about their interest in each other…well, Beth’s own life, at least (more on this below). I should clarify: I adored the relationship Beth has with her best friend and coworker, Jennifer, which is told all through email correspondence (you can easily read a summary of the novel online to get a sense for why that writing style works with this particular story). I was very eager to keep reading the web-dialogue between Beth and Jennifer because they had such an affectionate and witty way of talking to one another. It instantly reminded me of my relationship with several of my best girlfriends, as well as of the group emails that sometimes circulate (usually on a Friday) between me and the other women in my department at work. Beth and Jennifer’s friendship goes even deeper than a casual office acquaintance, though, and when they start to speak about more serious issues, like breakups and pregnancy, it is really intriguing to try to piece together what is going on in their broader lives from just their emails back and forth. I sort of started to resent the chapters that spoke about Lincoln’s life, in third person narrative style, because I mainly just wanted to read more about what was happening for Beth and Jennifer. They are without doubt the backbone of this novel and their emails are often simply hilarious!
For that reason, the budding “relationship” between Beth and her IT colleague, Lincoln, who is privy to all of her correspondence with Jennifer and begins to fall for her as a result (who wouldn’t, she’s adorable via email!) was placed on the back burner, for me. I honestly didn’t care too much about Lincoln, and I think that’s down to the fact that he’s a pretty weak character. He is meant to be, but I feel like he is mostly mopey and bland throughout the story. Even when he discovers that Beth has a crush on him and his life starts to turn around, he never really gets excited or enthused about anything, and his relationship with his mother is more annoying than interesting. His conversations with his sister and his mother don’t really seem to add much to the plot in the end, so I mostly wanted to blast through them. Although I understand that Rowell is trying to establish that Lincoln is a little lost and lonely, I don’t think his personality ever really picks up momentum, even when he starts to gain confidence, and honestly he’s just very bleh. Like I said, I didn’t care too much to learn what he was going through because I wanted to get back to Beth’s conversations with Jennifer, so while I found Lincoln to be a cute match for Beth romantically, I didn’t really care to see deeper into his personality and lifestyle than Beth did. The ending also felt rushed, and was a bit cheesy, if I’m honest, specifically the last line that Lincoln says which I didn’t even fully understand. Cheesy lines and endings occasionally happen in chick lit. novels, so I won’t necessarily hold that against Attachments…I have read some fabulous chick lit. novels where the endings were suspenseful and fleshed out, though, so it all depends what you’re looking for.
In Attachments, things are wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end without too much real conflict or upheaval, and that is satisfying in some ways, but frustrating in others. We don’t really get to dig down deep into the conflicts, because of the style and the fact that we are reading emails most of the time, and that is okay in some regards, but it also makes it slightly more frustrating when emphasis is placed on Lincoln’s outside life, rather than those of the characters I felt more invested in. Lincoln also seems largely nonchalant about the upheaval going on in his life, which contributed to my lack of interest in him. I think the novel might’ve been stronger if it was just focused on building a relationship between two female friends, through email correspondence (which is a really enjoyable and unique epistolary style for a novel), rather than adding the romantic element or focusing so heavily on it. If Lincoln were a side-plot, featured in Beth and Jennifer’s emails, rather than a central focus that so much time was spent on, I might’ve enjoyed the novel a bit more.
This novel doesn’t have any stand-out moments. Like I said, it is adorable in parts and quite fun to read, but it was such a simple, linear story that there wasn’t a whole lot to grab onto and become passionate about. Rowell is a witty writer and I will absolutely give more of her books a chance, but I am hoping that these other novels will be a bit meatier. I would definitely recommend Attachments to fans of rom-coms, though, because it is sweet and a very quick and enjoyable read. It offers the same pleasure that watching a Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock movie on a Saturday night would, so for that reason, I still enjoyed it very much.
❥ ❥ ❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart