Tuesday, March 25, 2014

book review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The backstory: The Other Typist is one of my book club's March picks (we meet every other month and read two books.)

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)
Source: library

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!


  1. I had one of those visceral, throw-it-under-a-truck reactions at the end of this one. Right up there with Gone Girl for me. Blarrrgh.

    1. I'm trying to remember if/when I threw a book across the room when I finished it. This one didn't rise to that level, and I loved Gone Girl:-)

  2. I am trying really hard to get through all of the ARCs that were sent to me before my pre-Christmas funk and this is one of them. I will get to it someday but now I don't want to! LOL. I hate a book that cheats you out of a payoff.

    1. Ti, I'm really curious how the discussion at book club will be tonight.

  3. I felt the same way. I wish the ending were tied up more neatly. :)

    I did really LOVE the book, though. I just wish I knew who was who with the characters. :) I am being vague, but if you read the book you will know what I am referring to.

    Every comment I see or hear has different theories, but I guess that is what makes a book good.

    I would highly recommend this book. I LOVE to talk about it. My book club wanted to read it, but there aren't enough copies in the library, and we as a general rule don't buy books unless a person wants to.

    I REALLY want to talk about it. If anyone wants to discuss, please feel free to e-mail me. :)

    THANKS for a great post. Have a wonderful day.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  4. Loved this book, but agree with you and the commenters above on the desire for a better ending. We read this one for book club, but everyone got sick and we never had a real discussion. I remember thinking it was one of those reads where you're literally talking to the characters and hoping they'll make better decisions. One member actually asked if it was like a Fight Club situation, where everything was in the character's head? But who knows. Glad you enjoyed it!!

  5. Yup, I was totally with you. I finished it and went "oh, ok." There was an awful lot of hype about this one. I'm not sure it quite lived up to it.

  6. I couldn't agree more. I loved the novel but despised the ending and I didn't GET why the author chose to do that. Just tell me WTF is happening!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!