First line: "They said the typewriter would unsex us."
Rose Baker is a typist at the New York police department in the 1920s. She sits in interrogation rooms with officers and suspects, recording their conversations. Rose, an orphan, leads a fairly quiet life outside the crime she records in her job. She's single, shares a room in a boarding house and doesn't have much of a social life. That is until "the other typist" comes into her life.
Odalie Lazare saunters into the police precinct and Rose's life is never the same. As their friendship grows stronger, Rose sheds more and more of her plainness and becomes a part of the "Roaring Twenties."
Told in a first person narrative, The Other Typist slowly and discretely reveals Rose to be more than what she makes herself out as, creating a strong element of suspense. Also adding to the suspense is the question of Odalie's past. Several theories arise, all plausible and explain her circumstances, but none is confirmed.
Rindell brings the Twenties to life in the speakeasies, clothing, hair and language. She also shows the stark contrast between the two elements of society and how a single person can transform oneself to fit in both elements. One man in the day time could be a completely different person in the night. Everyone is mysterious in The Other Typist.
The timing of The Other Typist is great with the resurgence of The Great Gatsby in a new movie. The Other Typist puts a female twist on the old American classic. Where we see larger-than-life Gatsby through the eyes of his male friend, Nick Carroway, in The Other Typist we see larger-than-life Odalie through the eyes of her female friend Rose. And it takes drastic circumstances in both novels to shake the foundations of the narrators' exciting new lives.
Captivating, romantic and suspenseful, The Other Typist takes readers back to a time of opulence and crime with characters that demand readers sit up and take notice. Early on in her story, Rose describes Odalie as a "right dazzling flash." The Other Typist is a right dazzling flash of a debut.
The Other Typist is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0399161469) from Amy Einhorn Books. There is also an unabridged audio version (ISBN: 978-1611761740), narrated by Gretchen Mol, available from Penguin Audio.