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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
The Other Typist
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on 30 September 2017
Ifound this book very readable but also intensely irritating in almost equal measure and am not certain whether the effort to get through a longish densely written work was worth the effort. The ending was ambiguous and almost impels you to start again to see if you have missed any vital clues but really not worth all that effort.

The atmosphere of the precinct where Rose works is portrayed excellently as is the world of the Speakeasys and time of Prohibition so there is a lot to admire.

at first. I liked the device of the unreliable narrator but this got ever more irritating and just seemed too tricksy as if a writing student was trying a new device out- I just don't have enough spare time in my life to waste time on being someone's guinea pig.

Do feel it could make a very good film though
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on 13 July 2014
Rose works as a police typist and as the title suggests, she meets the Odalie, the eponymous other typist, when she begins working at the precinct. Set during Prohibition, I thought this sounded like an interesting jazz age novel. Naturally anything set in this period is compared to Fitzgerald but this novel, to my mind has little in common with his work. The vague overtures of a crime novel and the experimentation with an unreliable narrator meant that I enjoyed The Other Typist for different reasons than I was expecting. If you enjoy novels that have a definitively unreliable narrator - I'm not ruining anything for you, we're told early on that Rose is writing the story out at the suggestion of her doctor. If you like trying to experience the novel from the narrator's perspective but also from what she doesn't see or say, then I think you will enjoy this. Unfortunately, I felt it lost its way towards the end and I felt the ending was hugely heavy-handed yet noncommittal. Worth a read.
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on 10 August 2017
Intriguing, well written, brilliant book. Have read it twice and it's even better the second time. Fascinating insight into a period of history that I knew little about, well drawn characters and a plot that sucks you in even though you kind of know what is going to happen. The only book our Book Club has read in the past two years that everyone absolutely loved!
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on 14 February 2014
Good old fashioned read. I can see this book being made into a film...just not sure about the ending being clear.
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on 21 March 2017
Caused mayhem in our book group. Many different theories about what was really going on!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 31 May 2013
New York, 1924, the time of prohibition, and we are in the company of Rose Baker, a rather plain, mousey-brown young woman, who works as a typist in a police precinct on the Lower East Side. Rose has a rather drab existence; she dresses in quiet, sensible clothes and lives in a boarding house, sharing a room with another girl whom she dislikes intensely. Accepting her lot in life, Rose spends her days at the precinct, typing up the confessions of criminals, gangsters and hoodlums, priding herself on being able to record the nastiest of crimes without really turning a hair. Apart from certain aspects of her work, Rose does not find her life very interesting; but then, Rose is not really a very interesting person - or is she?

When the beautiful, glamorous and sexually-confident Odalie begins working at the precinct, with her fashionable clothes and her glossy bobbed hair, Rose finds herself becoming totally and utterly captivated by the new typist and then life begins to get very interesting indeed. Before Rose knows it, Odalie has invited Rose to live with her in her suite of hotel rooms (the rent of which is paid for by Odalie's 'father') and soon Rose is wearing Odalie's clothes and smoking Odalie's cigarettes, visiting speakeasies, drinking illegal alcohol and dancing the Charleston and the Black Bottom. For Rose, the 'Roaring Twenties' has just begun, but her growing fascination with Odalie quickly turns to obsession - an obsession that can only end in tragedy...

First-person narrated by Rose, and told entirely from her perspective, the reader soon becomes aware that Rose is not a reliable narrator. We know almost from the beginning of the novel that Rose is recounting the story of her relationship with Odalie from a hospital room, and there are constant references to her doctor. But is Rose just very disillusioned or is she delusional? And who exactly is Odalie? With a twist at the end of the tale, which some readers will have anticipated, and others may find totally surprising, this novel with its combination of tragedy and dark comedy is an engaging read. Making a timely appearance alongside the present popularity of 'The Great Gatsby', Suzanne Rindell's debut novel is a richly described, entertaining and enjoyable page turner that would be a good choice for holiday, downtime or bedtime reading.
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on 24 May 2013
The Other Typist is a wonderful entertainment, a real page-turner, set in 1920s New York, in the age of prohibition.

Rose Baker tells the story. She was raised in a convent and had to make her own way in the world. She worked for the police, as stenographer and typist; she rented a room in a boarding house; and she took a great pride in her moral code and her emotional control. She was living, but she didn't really have a life.

Everything changed when a new typist was hired.

"On that particular day, she entered very calmly and quietly, but I knew; it was like the eye of a hurricane. She was the dark epicenter of something we didn't quite understand yet, the place where hot and cold mixed dangerously, and around her everything would change."

Odalie was charismatic, fashionable, modern, and the whole department was quickly won over by her.

Rose's feelings towards Odalie were complex: a horribly recognisable mixture of fascination and jealousy. She wanted to be friends, to have everything that she knew would come to her as a friend of Odalie, but she wouldn't make the approach, she wanted Odalie to come to her. And, in time, Odalie did.

Rose helped Odalie at work, and Odalie introduced Rose to speakeasies, loaned her lovely clothes, and even invited her to share her apartment. Rose didn't think to ask why Odalie wanted to be friends with her, or why Odalie was working for the police department when she seemed to have the world at her feet and money to burn ...

There was, of course, a very good reason ...

It wouldn't be fair to say more, but this book had me asking questions from the first page to the last, and I just had to keep turning the pages. I really wasn't sure if Odalie was playing Rose, or if Rose was playing Odalie. Certainly Rose was an unreliable narrator, but whether she was a foolish woman whose head was easily turned or a dishonest woman out for whatever she could get I really couldn't work out.

There were so many reasons to keep turning the pages: a wonderful evocation of the time and place, a wealth of period details, intriguing characters, and a very cleverly constructed plot that dangled intriguing possibilities if front of me and kept me asking questions.

It worked because, though the story was colourful, it was psychologically true, the characters and their actions were utterly believable.

And it worked because I realised from the start that Rose was telling her story after something momentous, something else that had change her life happened.

Something momentous did happen - the ending was stunning. I read it, I read it again, and then I had to rethink everything that I'd read before.

That's very clever, and very readable, writing!
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on 24 September 2013
I bought this because I fancied a WW2 era book and that it is!

It was a little slow to start in my opinion and I started thinking 'oh God, get a grip woman!' then it developed into a good story, a very good story in fact.

It is well written and the characters are good which make this an enjoyable read.
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on 9 January 2014
I had heard a lot of great things about The Other Typist, and so with that in mind I was very keen to get started on it.

Rose Baker, an orphaned young woman works hard as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side in New York City. There she carefully types confessions of murderers and criminals that come through the precinct, without batting an eyelid at even the worst and most horrific of crimes. But when Odalie begins working alongside her, Rose finds herself drawn to this mysterious new typist. As their friendship strengthens, Rose's fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession...

I was particularly intrigued by the relationship between Rose and Odalie, and I was gripped to the pages reading about it. As it is narrated from Rose, we can read all of her thoughts and feelings and see how her time with Odalie progresses. I could see how Rose was fascinated with Odalie, because I must admit at times I was too - her clothes, her lifestyle, dancing the Charleston too.

The Other Typist is brilliant in the way that it always had me with questions - who WAS Odalie and what actually was the truth about her? I don't want to say much more and spoil it but I was racing through the pages determined to find out what would happen, and on more than once occasion I was left feeling very surprised. At one point my mouth even dropped open in complete shock. Even now I can't stop thinking about it!

The setting was fantastic, Suzanne Rindell really brought the 1920′s to life, the historical detail was rich and effortlessly woven in with such a gripping plot line. I could hear the sounds and see the sights and it was as though I had been transported back in time.

The Other Typist is a truly fascinating read which will draw you in from the first page. With characters that will stay in your mind, twists and turns, and a darker side to the plot, this is a stunning read that I would thoroughly recommend to everyone.
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on 29 November 2013
Set in 1920s New York, this is an intriguing tale of obsession, criminality and identity. Rose has a strong and distinctive voice but we soon realise that there are slips in her narrative, and that all is not well with Rose or her relationship with the charismatic Odalie.

There is much that I enjoyed about this book but it does have an air of the debut about it. There are points where the story seems a little too loose, slow, and seems to lose its way (the overlong memories of Rose's past, the details of her life in the boarding house). It's also rather oddly unatmospheric in terms of creating a 1920s Manhattan: for all the depiction of speakeasies and Prohibition, the historical evocation feels a bit shaky, almost like false scenery in a theatre.

That said, this is still an enticing story. Rindell's writing is precise and intelligent, and she has the knack of evoking images that convey more than they seem to say. This first book may be a bit close to other texts (Rose particularly reminded me of the narrator in Notes on a Scandal) but I'll be interested in what Rindell writes next.
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