Title: The Other Typist
Author: Suzanne Rindell – read all about her!
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Fig Tree (Penguin)
Publication Date: 23rd May 2013.
Stand alone or Series? Stand alone – author’s debut novel.
Why did I choose to read this book? I picked this up at the Penguin Bloggers Party and have only just got around to reading it (mentally slaps self on the wrist).
Where to read? Take a corner table at ’69 Colebrooke Row’, a prohibition themed bar in Angel, London. Or if you put the book down for 5minutes take a trip to the ‘Ginstitute’ to learn more about making your own cocktail!
Refreshments: I would certainly steer clear of ‘bootleg gin’ and instead opt for one of these more civilized cocktails courtesy of the Telegraph and for a snack on the side try your hand at smoked salmon blinis (it’s recommended!)
Its 1924 prohibition has swept through America and New York City is a hotbed of secret doors and makeshift distilleries. In this world we meet straight-laced Rose Baker a typist for the police. She spends her days with criminals and her evenings alone. That is until the enigmatic Odalie steps into the precinct and Rose finds herself captivated by her new colleague. As Rose falls further into Odalie’s dazzling and dark world, she finds herself inextricably linked to the path Odalie has chosen. It is not long before Rose’s fascination becomes an obsession.
The story is narrated by Rose; she is our eyes and ears on all the other characters. By using this style Rindell has given us insight into a deep and complex character enabling us to fully immerse ourselves in their life. At times Rose’s naivety and dedication to Odalie’s friendship in the face of common sense can get frustrating to read. However, this is offset by the descriptions of her acquaintances, especially that of her old roommate Helen and the Sergeant.
I was also a big fan of the period in which Rindell places her characters which suits them and their lives perfectly. From the pith sayings, hidden entrances and glamorous clothes you can easily picture each dazzling scene that so entrances Rose.
The stories of obsession and intrigue, surrounding our two central characters, tease the reader throughout the book. No detail is explicit. Whether you’re reading about Rose’s past as an orphan in the convent, or the appearance of Teddy bringing with him a possible explanation for Odalie’s behaviour, Rindell places your firmly in the detective seat. These sequences are so blurred that by the final chapters I was left wondering if they were in fact one and the same woman.
Rindell has woven a beautifully dark novel whose film rights I’m sure will be snapped up in no time!