The book Gone Girl is kind of a big deal. The movie is coming out in the fall and there seems to be an appetite for books in a similar style. So publishers can be forgiven for trying to capitalize on that – books need to make money so that more of them can continue to be published right?
Which brings us to today’s book review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindall. Right on the cover it says if you liked Gone Girl, you might like this book. I’m not ashamed to admit that that line sold me on this particular book. Reading it I wondered more than once “where is the Gone Girl aspect?”
The Other Typist is a first person narrative told by Rose Baker, a typist with a New York City precinct in 1924-25, right in the middle of Prohibition. Rose is an orphan, living in a shared room in a boarding house, harbouring a crush on the upstanding, older Sergeant she works with. Rose prides herself on her work ethic and her good, clean, law abiding values.
But then Odalie Lazare comes to the precinct to help the typists with all of the extra work that’s been created due to Prohibition and Rose finds herself strangely drawn to this woman. She’s jealous when Odalie pays more attention to the other typists and is thrilled when Odalie’s sights come to rest on her. Before she knows it, she’s moved into Odalie’s grand Park Avenue hotel suite, mysteriously paid for by Odalie’s “father.”
Soon Rose is accompanying Odalie to speakeasies all over town, even running errands for her. She suspects that Odalie has something to do with the bootleggers but she really doesn’t want to know the whole truth so she doesn’t try too hard to figure it out.
I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that the 1920s as a setting for stories is not my thing. I found this novel, the combination of first person narrative and the emphasis on Odalie’s facial expressions as a way of moving the story along, to be better suited to a movie. Everything is explained so much, rather than letting us work out what’s happening. It wasn’t subtle enough.
I found that that real story didn’t get started for a long time. It’s a 350 page book – it took about 200 pages for me to be interested. None of the characters are likeable: Odalie is a fake, you can see that from the beginning; Rose is way too uptight and then she becomes kind of obsessive about Odalie.
A little bit of google sleuthing tells me that this book is actually in pre-production with Keira Knightley in a starring role, so I guess I wasn’t the only one that saw the movie potential here. This may be one of those rare times where the movie is better than the book.