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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell~★★★

Author: Suzanne Rindell
Title: The Other Typist
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio, unabridged edition; read by Gretchen Mol
Genre: Fiction

Audio Book Cover: "Rose Baker seals men's fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee. 
This is a new era for women, and New York City is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair short, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. But prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her in childhood. 
When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under her spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night  and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully to Odalie's high-stakes world. And soon her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover." 

Taryn's Review: I found something oddly alluring about the cover of this audio book, perhaps keeping in step with my recent fascination of the 1920s. I had previously picked up the book and decided against it, so when I found myself holding it yet again the library, I gave it a go.

Rose was very no-nonsense, direct, and calculated. Rose told the story from her own perspective, looking back on her life thus far; she mainly focused on the last year of her life, however, with her bosom buddy, Odalie. Throughout the storytelling, Rose gave clues to her own whereabouts as she told the reader about her adventures with the ever-adored Odalie. The two women became inseparable.

Odalie was a fascinating character and the lies that she conjured up were really intriguing, giving her an air of mystery. Although Rose recognized that Odalie was not truthful, Rose chose to ignore the behavior out of the fear of losing her best friend. It was during the breakdown of Rose and Odalie's friendship when I really began to disconnect from the book. It felt odd and some of Rose's actions didn't fit with what the reader had understood to be the essence of Rose. When a crime was committed and Rose was brought in for questioning, the events that unfolded felt like a complete breakage from Rose and her normal demeanor.

If you google this book title, one question that repeatedly comes up in discussion is what really happened at the end of the book? I don't mind books that leave endings open for interpretation, but for this book it felt annoying. Rose had told the readers all along where she was then living throughout her long story, finally telling the readers why she was there, and then nothing but confusion was presented and the book closed. I wish the Epilogue would have been the final chapter and that the actual Epilogue would have been written from the perspective of Rose's "interviewer" in her new dwelling.

Rindell's writing style for Rose's character was a bit dry at times. Sometimes I wanted to hit fast forward on the audio book. When the book ended, it had an ending that felt reminiscent to a popular cult movie in the 2000s that I won't mention for fear of spoilers. In the cult film there were elements of closure, where in The Other Typist the ending felt completely loose and unsatisfying. I think this was unnecessary because there were characters in the book who could have given some clarity to the situation of Rose (whereas in the cult movie, one could argue only the main character saw what he perceived to be the delusional truth).

I'd most likely give a Rindell book a go if it had strong reviews, but if not, I'd pass. Her writing wasn't strong enough to keep me delighted with the story, and a story that leaves me feeling frustrated due to its ambiguity isn't an ideal read for me. Gretchen Mol did a good job reading as Rose and I had no complaints about her voice/reading skills/acting.

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