I know the saying goes that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Well, sometimes you can and in this case, the cover told me that this was exactly the book I was in the mood for. It just looked like a clever, silly romantic comedy and I was in the mood for something light. Also, it was on the 'buy one, get one half off' table at Waterstones and who can resist that?
Attachments tells the story of Lincoln, an IT guy for a local newspaper. The year is 1999 and the internet is still a somewhat new idea. Lincoln's job is to watch for red flagged emails sent on the company server and make sure that the people involved get a reprimand. It's a graveyard shift and it's mind-numbingly boring but the pay's good and Lincoln honestly doesn't know what else to do with himself.
Although Lincoln hates his job, there is one perk: he gets to read the emails of two best friends, Jennifer and Beth. Although he started reading their emails because they were red flagged, he just couldn't find it in him to give them a warning because they just seemed so fun and nice. And so, without realizing it, Lincoln becomes the third, silent person in this friendship. And although Lincoln would love to meet them and actually become real friends, what do you do when you know everything about a person but have never actually met them?
Attachments is a good read, mostly because it doesn't fall into the standard romantic comedy trope. It has all the hallmarks, rest assured. It has a man pining after a woman who barely knows him. It has a woman who is still with a hack of a boyfriend although she knows it's not going anywhere. And it has genuinely funny moments where you can't help giggling as you turn the page.
However, there is a lot more to the book than just people falling in love in a quirky way. All three of the main characters, Jennifer, Beth and Lincoln, have reached some sort of dead end in their life at the point the book begins. Lincoln is stuck in this horrible job but doesn't have the energy or inclination to look for something different. Beth has been going out with the same man since she was twenty and doesn't know if anything is ever going to change between them. Jennifer's husband wants to start a family and Jennifer honestly never wanted kids. As the story plays out, each have to deal with the fact that their life has stalled and find a way to move on.
Jennifer and Beth may be important characters but the real star of this story is Lincoln. The whole thing is from his point of view and you only hear from Jennifer or Beth through their emails to each other (or when they interact with Lincoln.) As such, you really form an, excuse the wordplay, attachment for the guy. He's never had a real force driving him towards anything and he just sort of drifts through life. And as you learn more about him, seeing how his first love broke his heart and how he has hidden himself in academia, you just want to root for him more. He's a very lovable lead.
Rowell also has a real talent for writing dialogue. Her style is quirky and fun but most of all, the emails between Jennifer and Beth read just like emails between real life best friends. Although you know nothing about them that you don't read from their emails, they are completely fleshed out characters with strengths and weaknesses, good and bad qualities. They sound like real people. It's very endearing.
Attachments is a lovely book and more than just a simple romantic comedy. It's fun and light but has a few important ideas. It's also a very quick read (I read it in an evening.) I very much recommend it.