I was recently sent an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of the book “The Other Typist” by Suzanne Rindell. Because of my work as a writer, blogger, and yes a book reviewer on another site, I tend to get books sent to me on fairly regular basis.
When this book arrived, I sighed. I have sooo many books to read in my to-read pile (can you relate?) but still, the book size (trade paper) and the cover art got my attention.
The Other Typist takes place in 1923 and is the story of Rose Baker who is a typist in a police station. IT is her job to record criminal’s confessions.
I turned it over to read the back:
“Get ready for the year’s most fascinating unreliable narrator…”
And then there was this little beauty by Alice LaPlante author of Turn of Mind:
“Eerie and compelling … a riveting page-turner… Don’t start this novel at night if you need your beauty sleep – you’ll stay up to all hours devouring its pages.”
Another review made reference to the book as a “page-turner” a phrase so overused in book reviews as to make it meaningless. A few alarms went off in my mind – yeah right, is what I basically thought.
Even though I was busy, even though I had tons of work to do, I opened the book and read a few pages. I just want to get the feel of the book, I told myself.
That night Marc made dinner and I continued to read.
My nightly Criminal Minds (we only get basic cable and so Criminal Minds is pretty much all we watch) fest was ignored as I sat in my chair and read.
I stayed up late to keep reading.
The next morning, I got up early to read before I started my work.
Yes. It is that good.
So what makes this book so literally page-turning?
There are several things. This book is definitely not a one trick pony. First of all, the main character, Rose, grabs your attention on page one and then she drills a hole into your brain and stays there. You can’t help but think about her after you’ve put the book down. Like a thought just out of reach, impossible to solidify, you keep thinking – what is it that is wrong with Rose?
There’s just something not quite right about her, but what? Because it’s a narrated story from Rose’s point of view, you are privy to her thoughts and so you are in the driver’s seat right beside her as you see the inevitable train crash coming.
But you can’t do anything except hold on tight because Rose doesn’t see what is so very clearly in her path.
Another page-turning aspect? The writing, my Lord, the writing is sublime. Here’s an example:
“So I was surprised one day when Odalie emerged from the interrogation room and exclaimed, “He is just absolutely the law itself, isn’t he?” As we were not in the habit of making conversation, I looked around to see who she could possibly be talking to. The days were getting noticeably shorter by then. We were headed into the long black nights of winter, and although it was only four o’clock, outside a cloudy sky was already turning from ash to soot. And yet inside the office there was still something vital, the peculiar sort of kindling that comes from human activity buzzing away in the falling dark of dusk. The electric lights still glowed, and the office thrummed with the sounds of telephones, voices, papers, footsteps, and the syncopated clacking of many typewriters all being operated at once. It could very well be day or night, outside for all anyone cared: at that exact moment, everyone was quite busy, absorbed in what they were doing. And there was Odalie – still standing in front of her desk, facing me, her question (rhetorical though it was) still hanging in the air unanswered. I looked up at her and I remember – I remember this image quite clearly – the bare electric blub that dangled above her cast a perfect shimmering halo around the crown of her head, a perfect corona of light caught in the sheen of her silky black bobbed hair.
“Yes,” I stammered after a while. “The Sergeant is an excellent man.””
So much is packed into this paragraph. We are privy to Rose’s thought process as she struggles to respond to a simple statement. We become incredibly uncomfortable for her, as she stumbles to figure out social interaction.
Please what is up with this chick?
There are so many more examples of this extraordinary writing that this book is worth the price for anyone to read just for its literary excellence.
And then there is the story. You’ll be reading along and a clue, a bit of stunning information is brilliantly dropped into the story as casually as if someone were commenting on the weather. There were several places where I had to go back to reread a passage.
Did it really say what I thought it said? Are you kidding me?
Using the book-review-overused, but yet, in this case, very apt turn of phrase, this “page-turner” will constantly gnaw at you. The Other Typist will seep into your brain. You will think about the book when it is in your hands, and you’ll be wondering about Rose and Odelie when it is not.
In short, go out and read this book. You will not be sorry.
Now for the fun part, the publicist has agreed to send a copy of The Other Typist to someone from this blog. Leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected and announced on this Friday May 17th. (US addresses only)
Note – I have not been compensated for this review. All of the opinions are mine.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com)