Attachments is set around the turn of the 20th Century, when e-mail technology was still fairly new, and a lot of companies were worried about the effects of Y2K. Lincoln works nights for the newspaper The Courier, hired to monitor the employees' e-mail correspondence, where a filter flags e-mails containing inappropriate terms or topics. Lincoln is shy and quite nerdy, and doesn't really like his job much. He hates the feeling of spying on others, but the job pays well, so he sticks with it.
Beth, the Courier's film reviewer, and her best friend Jennifer, who works as a copy editor, spend a lot of their work days e-mailing each other, blithely ignoring the office rumours that their correspondence is being monitored. Jennifer's unsure whether she wants a baby, but her husband Mitch is extremely ready for one. Beth's younger sister is getting married, while Beth's been in a relationship with her rockstar boyfriend for years, patiently waiting for him to propose to her. The two women discuss all aspects of their lives with each other, and because Lincoln didn't send them a warning when their first e-mails got flagged, he really can't bring himself to do it once time passes, and he gets more and more caught up in their lives. While he's never met them, he starts thinking of them as friends, and even starts to develop feelings towards Beth.
Of course, Beth is in a relationship, and doesn't even know he exists, let alone that he's being paid to spy on her most private and personal conversations with her best friend. Even if she were to become available, and they were to meet, how do you tell someone that you fell in love with them through spying? Can you fall in love before first sight?
Attachments is part normal narrative, following Lincoln's life, and part the e-mail correspondence between Beth and Jennifer. This is yet another book that I discovered through the wonders of review sites on the internet, and I'm so glad I found it. It's a delightful and very engrossing read, and the friendship between Beth and Jennifer is so touching, realistic and comforting. The whole book is like a great romantic comedy in book form, and while what Lincoln is doing should be creepy, you can't help but root for him, because you, the reader, get drawn into the women's lives and troubles and want to be their friends too. He's also a kind, caring, considerate and loving person, feeling constantly guilty for continuing to read their e-mails instead of just deleting them, but he just can't help himself. I read it in a day and a half, and if I hadn't had to work, I would probably have forgotten everything around myself and devoured it in one sitting. Hugely recommended, probably one of my absolute favourites this year.