With “The Other Typist” Suzanne Rindell has achieved a number of things, all of which add up to make this one of the best novels I have had the pleasure of reading this year. Set in 1920′s America, during the time of Prohibition, it follows the story of Rose, a Police typist, and her blossoming friendship with the newest girl to join the typing pool, Odalie. Their days spent typing up the confessions of criminals, their nights spent in quite a different fashion, we follow the girls over the full course of their friendship from the day they meet. Neither are quite as they appear however, and you will quickly become immersed into their world and you won’t come up for air until you are sure there is no more left to know. Told entirely from the point of view of Rose, you trace their friendship from first meeting to where it all goes, well frankly, a bit pear shaped.
Ms Rindell’s sense of place is fantastic – the best I’ve seen in a long time. An evocative time, when women were just beginning to come into their own in a world that was very much coming to terms with itself, you can almost smell the smells and see the sights right there along with our protagonist.
The writing is witty and clever – Rose is a bit of a prude, and her opinions on how “young ladies” should conduct themselves are at times laugh out loud funny – several times I found myself re-reading certain portions with great amusement – and the excellent prose serves the story well.
Odalie is one of those characters you are unlikely to ever forget (Anyone who has read Erin Kelly’s fantastic “The Poison Tree” and remembers how Biba made you feel will know exactly what I am talking about) and she and Rose are pretty much polar opposites – hence really why the whole thing works so well.
Peppered with supporting characters who are all intrical to the plot and extremely well drawn (I would kind of like to meet the Detective Sergeant) you are swept along on a tidal wave of storytelling until you emerge breathless the other side. If you only read one book this year – read this one. **This review from “Goodreads” First Read” thanks to Penguin Books.