Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

UK paperback book cover of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Ahh Attachments. This is almost infamous now, for its creepy-in-a-not-creepy-way premise and lovely, witty e-mails. So naturally I only got round to reading it when everybody else has moved on to Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Ah well, such is life. Anyway, Attachments is a wonderful book that I read pretty much in one sitting as I just couldn’t bear to put it down.

Plot summary: It’s 1999 and for the staff of one newspaper office, the internet is still a novelty. By day, two young women, Beth and Jennifer, spend their hours emailing each other, discussing in hilarious detail every aspect of their lives, from love troubles to family dramas. And by night, Lincoln, a shy, lonely IT guy spends his hours reading every exchange. At first their emails offer a welcome diversion, but as Lincoln unwittingly becomes drawn into their lives, the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realizes just how head-over-heels he really is, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say to her? ‘Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mails – and also, I think I love you’. After a series of close encounters, Lincoln decides it’s time to muster the courage to follow his heart and find out whether there really is such a thing as love before first-sight.

In case you didn’t bother to read the above (I’m a big girl, I can handle your rejection), Lincoln’s job is to read employees’ e-mail. He keeps noticing certain amusing conversations between Beth and Jennifer and eventually falls in love with a woman he knows only through her e-mail. It’s almost epistolary as it’s told primarily through the women’s inboxes, although it does switch over in Lincoln in standard narrative form.

This is the kind of book you just want to hug. It’s really fun and light-hearted, just… happy-making, if that’s a word. You close the book and feel like all is well with the world. For me, I think I liked the book so much because it felt real. This is a situation that could actually happen, and that’s rare in chick-lit. There’s no beautiful, quirky women setting up a cupcake shop that is successful over-night, no fairy godmother and no stereotypically gay best friend. It could happen and that’s awesome. 

Obviously the premise probably should seem a little bit creepy, but it doesn’t at all. I think it works because Beth is a tiny bit creepy herself – she does basically follow him around in a completely stalkerish way. Saying that, who hasn’t positioned themselves in a certain spot just before a particular gentleman walks by, or done something else vaguely creepy for love? Neither of their behaviour is beyond the realms of possibility. Either that, or I’m the only one and I’ve just outed myself as a crazy loser.

Lincoln doesn’t sit there wanking over their e-mails; the focus is actually more on his life and he even goes so far as to acknowledge that stalking them would be inappropriate and weird. So shame on you Beth!

The ending is a little rushed and twee; it’s the only part that feels like a chick-lit novel. It didn’t annoy me on a grand scale as I was too high on happy fumes from the rest of the book, but it could have been better. I just couldn’t put this down. I wanted to be reading it every single second that I could – it’s a rare gem that can be this funny, but also this unique and this easy to relate to.

Read The Lit Addicted Brit’s review of Attachments.


  1. Laura says:

    I absolutely had to read this in one sitting because OMG SO ADORABLE! I have actually just realised that I've never re-read it either, so that's ridiculous… But YAYYYYY, you're on the Rainbow wagoooon which should actually be a real thing and it should be pulled along by unicorns.

    Yep, it's definitely late…

    1. admin says:

      I read it in one sitting too 🙂 I don't think I'm going to need to reread it for a while because it's quite simple and I remember it pretty well, but it's definitely a keeper!

      I think I'm more hanging off the side of the Rainbow wagon… ideally not getting trampled by the unicorns. I REALLY liked this and I want to read Fangirl, but I don't have a whole lot of interest in Eleanor & Park. Weird.

  2. YEY – YOU LIKED IT!! Creepy-in-a-not-creepy-way is the best description – I definitely don't want somebody reading my emails (even though they're nowhere *near* as funny as Beth and Jennifer's…) but Lincoln pulls it off in a way that doesn't make me want to be sick so that's a win.

    I'm just so very pleased that you liked it too! I haven't read Eleanor & Park or Fangirl yet but from what I've seen everybody loves them. Maybe I should buy one when we do our shopping trip! PLAN!

    Also, I nearly threw my phone out of the window about five times while trying to get a comment to publish – it was refusing to acknowledge that I have a Google account and other such silliness.

    1. Ellie says:

      YES. I've already been thinking about what I might want to buy while we're shopping together! I have Fangirl but I definitely need me a copy of Eleanor & Park, especially because IT HAS MY NAME IN IT.

      In other news, Twitter's been doing that to me recently – asks me to log in then refuses to accept my details even when I type them in multiple times and SUPER carefully. Stupid interwebs. 🙁

    2. admin says:

      I think it worked because he kind of acknowledged that it was creepy – it wasn't brushed over and he felt kind of guilty. Without that it would definitely have been… odd, at least.

      Annoying, isn't it? I feel like I should still be bribing your blog with sweets just so it doesn't kick me out again.

    3. admin says:

      I thought Fangirl wasn't out in the UK until February? Because I REALLY want that, but don't have a whole lot of interest in Eleanor & Park, for some reason. Despite the fact that it has your name in it, Ellie :p Plus, 'Park' is exactly the kind of stupid baby name that Lewis would like and I don't want to give him ideas :/

    4. Ellie says:

      It isn't out here yet – but I'd heard so many good things that I went on Book Depository and bought the US hardback. 🙂

  3. Yay! Whenever I see a Rowell book come up in my feed I'm like "oh no what if they don't like it!" I'm usually ok with people not loving every book I love, but Rainbow Rowell books are so special that it tears me apart to think people don't think the same thing. But you liked it, so never mind that whole useless spiel.

    I agree that the ending was the least realistic part of it, but by that stage it's what I wanted to happen so I probably would have been really disappointed if anything else had happened. Or actually, I probably would have respected it but been a little sad.

    E&P is amazing, I think it might beat Attachments for my favourite, but only just.

    1. admin says:

      I KNOW! I saw a girl reading Attachments on the train the other idea and I wanted so desperately to go up to her and check that she liked it!

      Yeah, you're completely right. It absolutely HAD to have a happy ending and I'd probably have liked it much less if it didn't! A happy book like this? Come on! I just think it could have been a little more subtle… less random and more thought out.

      I don't know why, but I don't have much interest in Eleanor & Park. Fangirl I'm desperate to read though!

  4. Ellie says:

    Oh THANK YOU HANNA. I already HAD a currently-reading pile but I read your review while I was being Productive in my extra hour this morning, and ended up plucking down Attachments and starting to read it five minutes later. I already laughed OUT LOUD at Beth and Jennifer's emails, which is a good start given that I'm about ten pages in. I think this evening might have to be Attachments Evening, because we finish work early and dinner is being made FOR me and there's going to be this storm so really, how likely is it that the many trees outside my window are going to let me sleep at a reasonable hour? NOT VERY LIKELY. Perfect reading time, in other words. And if one of the trees is uprooted and hits my bedroom and kills me, at least I'll have been reading an awesome book at the time. THIS IS A LEGITIMATE WORRY FOR ME.

    So… yeah. Nice review, old bean. Job done, as always. 😀

    1. admin says:

      Why Ellie, you are so very welcome.

      It's starting to get pretty bad outside now – it's on and off, but when it's on it's pretty 'bad.' Excuse the shoddy sentence structure, I'm high on paint fumes. I'm hoping for a good storm, to be honest. I love being inside and cozy when it's horrible outside, as long as we've got the cats in and the electric stays on. My bed is under a dormer window so I love the sound of rain above me 🙂

      Although naturally I hope you don't die.

    2. Ellie says:

      Gawd it was a total washout! Very disappointing when I slept all night and then woke up to find that MAYBE a twig had moved in the night. A good storm is a great excuse to get up at a stupid time, make tea, then sit under the blanket feeling all cosy and luxurious and just a tiny bit scared, all at the same time. PERFECT FOR READING. Wait, you have cats? I know about the dog, but CATS? WHY DID I NOT KNOW THIS? Picture picture picture picture picture…

  5. I'm so excited to read this one. I read Eleanor and Park and it was a huggable book too, so I'm glad this one lives up to my expectations!

  6. Sarah says:

    Attachments is my fave out of all the Rowell books 🙂 I think just because I like adults more than teenagers and it was funnier to me. SO I'm glad you liked it! Lincoln is adorable, and the emails were just the best. I will say that I liked E&P more than I liked Fangirl – I loved them both, but Fangirl is in third place for me. The premise for E&P didn't sound that great to me initially either, but I was just so excited to read more Rowell that I dived in anyways and was pleasantly surprised.

  7. Jean says:

    I had never heard of this book, but I put it on hold at the library and read it yesterday. THANK YOU, it was totally adorable and sweet and not too slushy. I loved it. I re-read my favorite bits. Definitely happy-making.

  8. Swati Hegde says:

    In my opinion, Attachments was no Fangirl, but I still loved it to pieces. Rainbow Rowell is such an amazing author! I'm so glad I discovered her.
    Next stop, Eleanor & Park! 🙂

    Here's the full review on my blog:

  9. Cath Brookes says:

    *Squee!* That was my reaction after finishing this book. I totally adored this story. It's so cute. I know that's probably not the best way to describe a book, but it really is. I absolutely adored this book.
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