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June 28, 2013 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Other Typist by Suzanne RindellThe Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell
Narrated by Gretchen Mol

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: May 7, 2013)
Format: Audio, 10 hours | 6 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 4½ of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Rose Baker is a typist in the New York City Police Department on the lower east side. Confessions are her job. The criminals admit to their crimes, and like a high priestess, Rose records their every word. Often she is the only woman present. And while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves that room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for making coffee.

When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s 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 into Odalie’s high stakes world and her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

Some Thoughts:

I enjoy stories set in the 1920s. It was probably a frustrating time to be a woman, but an exciting time too with all the changes and innovations, that high time at the height of a boom before everything crashed in 1929. If I were to regress to a past life, assuming there was such a thing, it would be to that era.

The Other Typist begins in 1923. Rose, the typist and our narrator, is very prim and proper and takes her job seriously. Odalie, the other typist, is fun and aloof, and doesn’t worry about the accuracy of her job. Rose becomes obsessed with Odalie and as the story progresses we see changes in her character. Rose wants to be like Odalie and begins to borrow her clothing and dress like her, go to speakeasies and flirt with men. But something isn’t quite right with Rose’s story.

It becomes clear early on that Rose is a very unreliable narrator and as a result the reader doesn’t know what to believe. The psychological tension began to build and I was pulled into this story. Neither Rose nor Odalie was likeable, yet the story was compulsively readable. I had to keep going not because I liked either of them, although a few of the minor characters were alright, but because I wanted to know what happened. Who is Odalie? Is anything Rose tells us about Odalie the truth? Was Rose naive or calculating? In the end, I don’t know!

I listened to the audio which was narrated by Gretchen Mol. This was my first time listening to her read and was pleased with the performance. She spoke with even pacing, almost mysterious at times, and with enough change in her voice that I could easily tell Rose from Odalie.

In the end I listened to the last part three times and I’m still not sure what to believe. There are several ways to interpret the ending and I’ve settled on one in my mind so I can stop thinking about it. I would have liked a little more clarity because I like to know what the author intended, but the end does work for this book. Rose is so unreliable that the implied ending changes depending on what parts of her story one believes. Now that I think back, there were lots of clues and foreshadowing that I missed. I was caught up in the story of the era, which made me think of one of Gatsby’s parties, when I should have been analyzing Rose.

Psychological suspense and an extremely unreliable narrator made for a compelling story that put this historical fiction high on my recommended list.

——————————–
Source: Review copy
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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10 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. MaryMary / Jun 28 2013 12:41 pm

    Unreliable narrators make me feel gullible, lol. This does sound good though.

    Like

    • Leslie / Jun 28 2013 12:55 pm

      In this book it’s pretty obvious that Rose isn’t telling us the truth, the problem is figuring out what if any of it is true!

      Like

  2. BermudaOnion / Jun 28 2013 2:14 pm

    I love unreliable narrators and that era, too, so this sounds like the perfect book for me.

    Like

  3. Suko / Jun 28 2013 4:44 pm

    This sounds wonderful, although unreliable narrators can be difficult and tricky for me. Excellent review, Leslie.

    Like

  4. Jess resides here (@frellathon) / Jun 28 2013 6:50 pm

    Sounds really good.

    Like

  5. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jun 28 2013 7:45 pm

    So happy to see you enjoyed the audio — me too.

    Like

  6. Laurie C / Jun 28 2013 8:27 pm

    I just won this audiobook from Lakeside Musing in the LIterary Giveaway Hop and am looking forward to listening!

    Like

  7. Beth F / Jun 29 2013 6:52 am

    I know! I mentioned in my review that readers will go back to read the epilogue two or three times. The audio sounds like it was great.

    Like

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  1. July – My Favorite Month | Under My Apple Tree
  2. 2013 Reading Wrap-Up | Under My Apple Tree

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