The basics: Rose Baker is an orphan who works as a typist at a Lower East Side police precinct in the 1920's. When Odalie joins the precinct as the titular other typist, she and Rose develop a friendship, but their lives seem fraught with peril and obsession.
Warning: this review contains some vague spoilers.
My thoughts: Rose narrates from the future, and it's clear from the beginning that she isn't always telling the reader everything. Her narration is concerned with what to tell and when. I don't think it's a stretch to say there are many clues she is not the most reliable narrator. I'm a huge fan of unreliable narrators, and as I read I savored the clues Rose doles out. I wouldn't go so far as to say the novel reads like a thriller, but I expected a big reveal of some sort for the reader to finally piece together the validity of Rose's story. Instead, the end of the novel raises many more questions than it answers.
As a reader, I don't need every element of a story tied up in a neat little package for me at the end of the novel. After all, life is rarely so neat, and I like some ambiguity. The Other Typist reminds me that there is definitely such a thing as too much ambiguity. I was enchanted with this book as I read. I thoroughly enjoyed my suspicions of Rose throughout the novel. I'm drawn to characters who are interesting, regardless of whether or not they're likeable (and Rose is definitely not always likeable.) She is, however, interesting and usually understandable.
When I turned the last page, I had one of those moments where I had to ask "that's it?" Initially, I hoped that although the ending wasn't what I expected, I could come to understand it. I didn't. I'm of two minds about this novel. I had a delightful reading experience with this novel, but I really disliked the ending. Does the ending taint my enjoyment of the novel? No. It does, however, tinge the reading experience with some sadness for the unfulfilled promise of this novel. I'm very much looking forward to our discussion of this novel tonight!
Favorite passage: "The typewriter is indeed my passport into a world otherwise barred to me and my kind."
The verdict: While I loved the experience of reading The Other Typist and trying to figure out Rose and her story, the ending was too ambiguous to be satisfying.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 359 pages
Publication date: May 7, 2013 (it's out in paperback next week)
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Other Typist from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)
Want more? Visit Suzanne Rindell's website.
As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!