Book review: The Other Typist

Dearest BusiChic,

Have you seen Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby? It is a stylish remake with costumes created by Prada and painstaking research done by Catherine Martin to recreate the opulence of the Prohibition era. For me the one thing lacking in the film/book was stronger female characters. Afterall the 1920s were a time where women were free of corsets, long hair and in the US; had the right to vote.

Which is where The Other Typist written by Suzanne Rindell and published by Penguin Books ticked my boxes. Have you ever made friends with a work colleague? Liked how they dressed? Accepted or given an off-the-cuff invitation for an after-work drink? The Other Typist is a cautionary tale on getting too close to a colleague, particularly one as mysterious and enticingly glamorous as Rose Baker’s.

the other typist suzanne rindell penguin

 

Set in New York City in 1924 just two years on from The Great Gatsby, like the narrator of that classic novel, Rose Baker begins her story from a sanatorium. Casting her mind back to when she was an orphaned young woman, seemingly content working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side.

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In those times, Baker recalls how she took pride in her ability to be a physical extension of her mechanical typewriter; transcribing the confessions of criminals who are processed through the station each day, without a flicker of emotion. That is until another typist joined the pool.

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Odalie is the glamorous new work colleague who enchants and mesmerizes Rose and the rest of the station. Her workwear and grooming is described in detail, highlighting the opulence, style and frivolity of the Prohibition era. Her tasteful jewels sparkle tantalisingly, her cashmere looks warm and expensive, her cloche hat hugs the oriental-chicness of her newly bobbed hair, just-so. Odalie is the perfect amount of chic, daring and mystery that has everyone, especially Rose, clamouring for more.

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Rose becomes obsessed with her new colleague and is enticed to step beyond the typewriter and into the secret world of glamorous parties, speakeasies and the crimes that she’s previously only ever transcribed.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?

I found reading The Other Typist as engrossing as a Hitchcock film; all the storyline twists-and-turns complete with achingly fashionable Edith-Head (i.e. spot-on-amazing) costume design. And it’s important to pay attention, BusiChic, because who would’ve thought that accepting the chance to dress similar to someone you admire could have such devastating consequences!

In case you are tempted, here is a selection of pieces inspired by Odalie’s style:

The Other Typist

 

 

The Other Typist written by Suzanne Rindell and published by Penguin Books

I was sent a copy of this book for review. 

Images from Marc Jacobs Resort 2014 collection on Style.com

What books or films have inspired your workwear style?

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