Book Review: The Other Typist

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell has a memorable but somewhat unreliable narrator in Rose Baker. It’s 1923, and Rose is a typist with the New York City Police Department, who with a few key strokes can condemn a man forever. Caught between the Victorian standards she was taught in her orphanage and the modern world where women can do all the things men can, prudish Rose is confused, until the other typist arrives in her precinct. Rose is quickly befriended by the glamorous Odalie and soon becomes obsessed with her carefree ways. 

I borrowed The Other Typist from Veronica, who received the book from Penguin and Goodreads as part of their First-Reads program. 

I must admit, this was something I wasn’t initially attracted to and wouldn’t have read had it not been encouraged. I just didn’t think it was anything I would find overly interesting and I felt like I would have to force myself through it, a daunting task I kept putting off. 

But I was completely wrong about not being drawn in. From the very beginning, Rindell does an incredible job of vaguely seeding the story with hints toward the twisting end. Each narrative interjection from the present situation lures you further and further into the depths and glamour of the roaring 20’s, much like Rose is lured deeper and deeper into the glamour of Odalie’s care-free lifestyle. 

I often find it hard to believe how enraptured one person can get with another in books, it usually moves too quickly, but Rindell’s description of Rose’s growing fascination with Odalie is expressed in such detail that you can clearly see how the obsession came to be. It’s believable and seems almost natural. Rose also has a distinctive self awareness when describing the events and you can’t help but feel sympathetic to her actions that could have been avoided. 

As the manipulated web twists around the two characters, merging their lives closer together, you’re left questioning the true reality. Who is manipulating who? Who is really the victim? What is actually going on here? Those are the questions left lingering through the last few pages of the book and even well after you close it. 

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been excited to review and talk about a book, The Other Typist was a great debut novel. 

I won this from Penguin and Goodreads as part of their First-Reads program. 

The Other Typist was an interesting trip back to the Roaring 20s New York City, deep during the prohibition times. 

Immediately you know you’ll keep reading this impressive debut novel by Suzanne Rindell. The entire story is told from the psyche of Rose Baker, a police stenographer, who becomes borderline obsessed with the new typist, Odalie Lazare. 

Rose often rides the fine line between clear obsession with Odalie (think SWF) and as someone who simply craves love and affection, something she didn’t have growing up in an orphanage. Picking up the novel, you’d think this was a simple story about friendship, manipulation and love. But it’s more than that. It was quite the interesting look into how dependent a person can get on someone that they barely know and how one wrong move can leave your life in shambles. 

Cleverly constructed with a humorous twist at the end, The Other Typist will leave a lasting impression on you well after the last page and have you wondering if what you read was as subtly twisted as you thought.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell is available everywhere May 7th 2013. 

CityGirls Rating: 4.5 glasses of wine out of 5 

images from Goodreads.