Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: The Other Typist

The Other Typist is a novel set in New York City during the roaring '20s. The main character, Rose, is a stenographer in a police precinct. She leads a fairly boring and uneventful life until a new typist starts at her job. The new girl, Odalie, is coquettish and fashionable and a total enigma to Rose. How does she afford her expensive clothes? Where did she learn French? Was she really in the movies before she was a stenographer? 

Rose is an orphan and desperate for love and attention, so when Odalie takes her under her wing, Rose eagerly accepts her friendship. Soon, Rose is invited to live in Odalie's fancy Park Avenue apartment and is given a glimpse of Odalie's private life. As the details about who Odalie may really be slowly reveal themselves, Rose is both perplexed, shocked, and intrigued. Despite who or what Odalie is, Rose still feels protective of her closest and only friend.

This book confused me a bit. We soon find that Rose is not the most trustworthy narrator. I don't want to give away any spoilers but I feel a bit incomplete now that I've finished the book. What is wrong Rose? Is she really crazy? Is Odalie innocent? We are told the story from Rose's perspective and she of course, is biased in her favor. It became clear while reading the book that the reader can't be sure if Rose is the protagonist or the antagonist. I didn't know if I should root for her or not.

The book was pretty good and the story was different. I especially enjoyed reading about a stenographer, ssince I went to school for stenography. The profession has changed a lot since the '20s, but Rose's descriptions of working on the steno machine brought back memories of my time in school. Stenography is really fun and challenging and court reporters sort of pride themselves on their quirky careers. I think the author expressed the steno attitude pretty well.

I am giving The Other Typist 3 out of 5 stars.

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