I read this as part of my mission for the LGBT Reading Challenge 2011 (see logo on sidebar for details). As a consequence I didn't discriminate against the book. I believe I could've easily talked myself out of buying it if I'd tried. As it happens, I'm glad I didn't.
Donoghue is a very accessible writer. She doesn't sanitise her language so if a swear word is appropriate then a swear word is used. This certainly helps the authenticity of her characters and gives the book an altogether more adult feel than the plot alone might suggest.
Landing tells the story of two women, Jude (living in Canada) and Sile (pronounced Sheelagh, living in Ireland). They meet on a plane journey when Jude is travelling to England to bring back her sick mother. Sile is a stewardess on the plane and the two are initially brought together by an unexpected incident on board. From this they grow to know each other and ultimately end up in a long distance relationship, separated both by the Atlantic and their individual lives.
Donoghue paints her characters extremely vividly at the beginning of the novel. Primarily, she manages this by showing their interactions with the people in their established lives. Aside from demonstrating character this also shows the power of the relationship into which they later fall because these interactions inevitably alter. There are perhaps too many of these secondary characters to know intimately but that could be an attention problem on the part of this particular reader.
What struck me was the poignancy of the book. It so accurately depicts the issues surrounding long distance relationships and why they can't immediately be resolved. It seems loaded with pearls of wisdom that could probably conspire to make their very own self-help guide but they don't feel too preachy when slotted into the novel as a whole.
It is a very readable book which draws on human insecurities and desires. At one point Jude and Sile keep missing each other and are forced to leave a series of frustrated messages on the answering machine. Anybody ever compelled to spend time away from the one they love will easily identify with that sequence.
It isn't a novel that will raise any profound questions. At its core is the idea of identity and whether separating yourself from a certain place fractures who you are. It is also a clever love story and I can certainly see myself rereading it in the future.
Landing is available to purchase here.