Set at the end of 1999 with Y2K pending, Attachments tells the story of three newspaper employees, Lincoln, Jennifer and Beth. Lincoln is a night systems security officer, whose main duty is to monitor employee emails for potentially inappropriate or prurient activity. Jennifer and Beth are best friends whose emails get flagged to Lincoln on a regular basis. Amused by their snarky and clever non-work related conversations, Lincoln decides not to report their staff email abuse, and instead continues to read their personal email exchanges. Before long, Lincoln finds himself falling for Beth, despite having never actually met her. Given the means by which he’s fallen for her though, even if Lincoln were to approach Beth, could he ever tell her the truth about what he’s been doing?
The book is structured with chapters either being told from Lincoln’s first-person perspective or as Jennifer and Beth’s email conversations as read by Lincoln. This is a unique way of keeping the book focused from Lincoln’s male viewpoint, while also sharing with us the intimate narrative between two female best friends. The writing is very witty and well-crafted, with numerous laugh-out-loud one-liners. I personally found the ending a bit rushed, but the enjoyment I found throughout the rest of the book still makes me rate it a 9 out of 10.
Rainbow Rowell seems to have a knack for writing about people who communicate and fall in love through indirect conversational means. In Eleanor and Park, it’s through comic books and mixed tapes; in Fangirl, it’s through online fan fiction; and in her most recent book, Landline, it’s through an old magic rotary telephone. Attachments is no different, with the driving vehicle being emails. With her writing style becoming more noticeable with each new novel, it makes one wonder which media her characters will fall in love through next.
If you enjoy the romantic comedy side of Attachments, you may also enjoy reading Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, which tells of the humorous relationship troubles of a young female journalist. Or if it’s the deep friendship and witty banter between Jennifer and Beth that most appeals to you in Attachments, try reading Mary McCarthy’s edgy novel The Group, which depicts the friendship of eight recent Vassar graduates as they experience the various issues that arise in early adulthood.