Apr 30, 2014

Book Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Other Typist
The door banged shut. We all turned to find Odalie standing in front of the threshold peering at us with her wide blue eyes and a faint smile on her lips. Her sudden apparition and elegant countenance were utterly incongruous with her surroundings. We were struck. (ch. 3)
About the book: Rose Baker's life is one of a struggling typist living in a boarding house in NYC during the 1920s, doing her work as a typist at the NYPD with resolute efficiency. That is, until a new typist Odalie enters the scene. Odalie persuades Rose to move into her luxurious hotel rooms with her as a roommate and slowly effects a change in Rose's habits and appearance. Rose is smitten with the new typist, the new experiences, their visits to speakeasy joints, drinking during a time of prohibition, wearing fancy dresses, and dining in elegant restaurants.

Things begin to change, however, when Rose changes the wording in a "confession" by a suspected murderer. And then someone from Odalie's past shows up to question Odalie about a suspicious death years previously. Events quickly begin to tumble out of order and reason, and the reader is left in a maze, wondering about the two women, "What...?"

My comments: Rose is an unreliable narrator who sees herself as enlightened and reasonable, but we the readers can see how flawed she is in her rigidity and her prejudices. Her head over heels infatuation with the new typist, Odalie and Odalie's lifestyle and manners, is just another contradiction in her personality. 

I believe the author could have ended the novel and its suspenseful plot in about three different ways. She chose to use all three ways in the novel, however, a technique which may leave the reader gasping. I was nonplussed at first until I realized what the author was doing.

The book kept my attention till the very end, to the culmination of the suspenseful events, so I give this read a 4/5 rating! Though I might have wanted a more definitive end to the story!

Thanks to Penguin for a review copy of this book for their book tour.

THE OTHER TYPIST has also been optioned for film produced by and starring Keira Knightley, seen here in The Guardian this past summer.


8 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed The Other Typist, Harvee. I think it would make a wonderful film with Keira Knightley. I'm not sure how I'd fare reading this, though, due to the unreliable narrator.

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  2. Terrific review Harvee. I've read similar comments about the ending of this story.

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  3. Sounds like the ending was non conventional and left questions. I find that sort of conclusion can work very well. On the other hand it can work out very badly if it is not handled correctly.

    I agree with Suko, this seems like it would be a good material for a film and Keira Knightley would be well cast in it.

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  4. There are so many books out there that I want to read, and this is one of them!

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  5. I am still confused about this book, but I LOVED it.

    The ending had me saying: What?? :)

    THANKS for your thoughts. Never thought of your idea about the ending.

    Happy Hopping!!

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews

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  6. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The ending left my head spinning!

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  7. I'm definitely going to read this one. I've been meaning to for a while. Thanks for the review!

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