Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Book review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Library Copy
This book would be rated: PG-13 for violence and general darkness
Rose Baker is plain and competent. An orphan raised by nuns, she's good at her job-- working as a typist at a police precinct in New York City in the 1920s, but other than that, she doesn't have a lot going on in her life. Then Odalie joins the typing pool, and Rose's life is turned upside down. Odalie is beautiful, wealthy, and comfortable with men. She also seems to genuinely like Rose, taking her in to live in her hotel suite when things go south at Rose's boardinghouse. Rose loves her new lifestyle-- she wears Odalie's clothes, eats in fancy restaurants, and parties in speakeasies. And life suddenly seems a lot less black and white. This seeps into her work life-- she changes small things in defendants' testimonies when it suits her. And as life gets more and more gray, she starts to see that Odalie isn't who she seemed to be at first.
I read this book the same weekend I saw The Great Gatsby, and while Rindell talks in her afterword about how Gatsby is one of her favorite books, I was struck while reading it how similar the books are. Rose is very much like a female version of Nick Carraway, and Odalie is similar to Gatsby, and in both cases, wealth and power and intrigue seem to corrupt the innocent characters. The book was a really fascinating read, and I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed myself.