The Other Typist is recounted by Rose Baker, a typist at a rundown police precinct. Plain and rule-abiding, Rose efficiently types up criminals’ confessions before returning home to her dreary boarding house. All at once, Rose’s regimented practicality is seduced by the glamour and frivolity of the new typist at the precinct, Odalie. A disturbing obsession is born; Rose keeps a journal of the tiniest details she notices about her. One of her entries reads: “O prefers tea to coffee. Earl Grey, with a little milk. Drinks it with her finger curled” Some are darker and teem with envy: “O took Iris to lunch today! Over me. Old, expressionless Iris, with her mannish little neckties… Clearly I have overestimated O. She and Iris can have each other.” Midway through The Other Typist, it is revealed that Rose is narrating from an asylum in retrospect, suggesting that perhaps Rose’s word is not reliable. This extra layer to the plot provides much suspicion and tension, as Rose is essentially lying to herself, as well as to the reader.
The Other Typist forces the reader to reflect on human nature and relationships. Odalie manipulates Rose relentlessly, leaving Rose entirely unaware until the end. Because the writer lies to herself and therefore the reader throughout the book, the reader is only given a distorted view of the story, adding interest to the already intriguing plot. Rose deludedly thinks herself perceptive and all-seeing, yet she is blind to the reality that Odalie was manipulating her right in front of her eyes. Being written in retrospect means that often, Odalie hints at her doomed future, e.g. “It was moments like this, I would later learn, that would ultimately undo me.” Although this might have added charm, I found that this spoiled the suspense of the book.
You would enjoy The Other Typist if you like The Great Gatsby, and like mysterious and stylistic 1920s novels. This book is not good for people who like fast-paced novels. I would recommend this book for teens and older.
My Ratings (out of 10 As):