The Other Typist {Review and #Giveaway}

by Elizabeth

5M4B disclosure


Rose Baker is an upright, prudish young woman who works as a typist in a police precinct in 1920s New York, where she fastidiously types out even the most sordid confessions. She lives in a boarding house where she shares a room with another woman, whom she secretly despises, and she was raised by nuns in an orphanage. She develops a secret passion for the morally-upright, self-righteous Sergeant, admiring his handle-bar mustache and lack of compassion for the poor from afar. Meanwhile, she ignores the kindness of the younger, more attractive Lieutenant-Dectective. She presents herself as very plain, and she is the one telling us this story.

One day, a new typist arrives at the office, trailing clouds of glamour in her wake. Odalie Lazare is everything Rose isn’t–daring, alluring, tempestuous, stunning, modern, rich. She takes Rose under her wing. Rose moves into her luxurious suite at a hotel and begins to dress in Odalie’s latest fashions, and visit speakeasies with a little of Odalie’s daring.

Odalie remains something of a mystery, however. It’s unclear where exactly she’s from, or where she gets her money. Various stories are suggested–a rich Hungarian count, a California childhood. Rumours abound, pinning her as a gangster’s moll or a female bootlegger. She floats through her days, charming friend and foe alike, and Rose follows, bedazzled. It’s pretty clear from early on that things will not end well.

Rose is an unreliable narrator, albeit with a wry sense of humour that loses nothing from feeling unintended. From the start, she makes her readers feel a bit unsettled. But the deeper we get into the turpentine twists of her mind, the more confused we feel. The Other Typist teases us, gradually giving us hints that we try and solve, only to twist in another direction. I thought I had it figured out pretty early on, but now, 3 days after finishing the book, I’m still nagging my husband to help me decide which interpretation is correct. Since he hasn’t read the book, he’s an unsympathetic listener and no help at all.

The Other Typist plays around with a lot of themes; insanity and obsession, a true sense of self, the accuracy of the spoken versus the written word. It’s a fascinating look at a specific time and place. There are elements of the Great Gatsby (Odalie could be his twin, separated at birth) and I felt there was a Hitchcockian feel to it too. This is a great read. Just be prepared for a bit of a wild ride, ending perhaps with a sleepless night as you try to make all the puzzle pieces fit.

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Email Author    |    Website About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes who loves being part of the team at 5 Minutes for Books. She's lived in 7 countries and is currently in Oregon, where she spends most of her time with Iraqi refugees. She has 3 teens.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patricia April 28, 2014 at 12:35 am

I’m intrigued by the Hitchcock twist.


2 Sandra K321 April 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

It sounds a bit quirky, which I like. I usually read historical fiction so sometimes a quirky change is enjoyable.


3 anne April 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

The era and the storyline sounds captivating.


4 Mariann April 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I simply love books and movies from this era! It sounds like a must read :)


5 Seyma Shabbir April 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I love mysteries!


6 Daniel M April 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm

i like a story with a lot of twists and turns


7 anna April 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

I love the time period that the book is set in.,


8 Rhonda April 30, 2014 at 12:21 am

Love the time period.


9 Cindy Brooks April 30, 2014 at 12:37 am

The relationship and interactions between the two women sounds interesting.


10 Sheila K. April 30, 2014 at 7:19 am

I love a good mystery!


11 Kym April 30, 2014 at 9:09 am

this interests me not only because I love a good mystery, but the 1920s setting is intriguing as well. Sounds like something quite different from the “formula” mystery so I’d love to read it!


12 karenk May 1, 2014 at 4:48 am

love the storyline :)


13 Liza Vladyka May 1, 2014 at 5:55 am

giving us hints that we try and solve,


14 Nancy May 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

I like unique books that have a bit of mystery surrounding them. This book sounds like it fits the bill!


15 Vickie Couturier May 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

I love a good mystery


16 DarcyO May 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I love a good mystery!


17 Claudette Lariviere May 6, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I luv a good mystery story and the era of the 1920′s is a kewl time in history..:-)


18 Lesley M May 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm

I haven’t read a good mystery in awhile, and I think this one would fit the bill!


19 samantha wagner May 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

The era and the mystery. Who doesn’t love a good mystery :)


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