Title: The Other Typist
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Publication Date: 5-7-13
Genre: Historical Fiction (1920s), Psychological Thriller, Adult
Source: Library (read for Jazz Age January)
Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.
But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.
The Other Typist is deliciously entertaining.
It took me a while to really get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down! The main character, Rose, was an incredible narrator, and is probably one of my most favorite characters. All at once, she was both incredibly relatable and completely unreliable. She was naïve and emotionally needy, but certain aspects of her personality were so easily identifiable. I felt almost like, in another life, I couldn’t been her. Throughout the novel, she constantly swerves back and forth over the lines of moral ambiguity, and it was so exciting to take that journey with her and realize at what points I found her so real and human, and at other times so entirely unrecognizable.
My only negative comment about Rose is that I wish that she hadn’t given us quite as much foreshadowing as she did. From the beginning, it’s clear that she’s telling the story to us from the future, as a means of justifying something that happened in her life, and she gives us a lot of clues as to what will finally go down. I enjoyed the diary-esque atmosphere of the novel, but at times I felt like the internal monologue could’ve been toned down a little bit, to make it less clear as to just how unreliable Rose really is.
And then there’s Odalie. Oh, Odalie. There aren’t too many other characters in literature that I’ve, to this extent, both hated and found extraordinarily captivating at the same time. Although, of course, not to the same level, I’ve experienced this type of manipulative friendship in my life, and I was constantly being reminded of my personal experiences throughout this novel, and it’s perhaps why I was able to identify with Rose so much and found this novel so riveting. And I could understand how the things that happened were at once both Rose’s fault and not Rose’s fault at all. Odalie was a master at getting people to do exactly what she wanted them to do, and I loved watching it all happen right before my eyes.
The best part of this book is the ending. I was so intent on finally finding out how it was all going to end that I stayed up late reading this book in order to finish it! And it did not disappoint. The ending is shocking and surprisingly dark. All the pieces suddenly fall into place and it’s exactly the kind of ending that I’ve found myself craving from so many other psychological thrillers, but have only been lucky enough to find a very small number of times. The last few lines suddenly make everything so gruesomely clear, yet undeniably fuzzy. You’re left wondering who Rose really is, who Odalie really is. What have youactually been reading all of this time? It’s deliriously mind-boggling, yet completely makes sense all at the same time. The question isn’t really if somebody is who them seem to be…it’s the understanding of how all of those clearly defined lines between two people can so quickly and easily become blurred.