This is the most controversial post I’ve written and am likely to ever write on this blog because, as a rule, I don’t do spoilers.
But this post is full of spoilers and the only way I’ll sleep at night after hitting ‘publish’ is knowing that in all probability, the only people who’ll be reading it are those that have already read The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell and had the same reaction as me when they reached the ending (which was “Whaaaaaaaat?!).
If you haven’t read The Other Typist and you’re looking for a review of the book then please, please, please stop reading this now. It’s an insanely good story and there’s no point spoiling it for yourself. But if you are in need of a discussion regarding the ending, I understand. Because I have been talking about the ending of this book non-stop and I still don’t feel any closer to an answer.
Okay… last chance to look away…. hit ‘back’ on your browser if you haven’t read the book…..
……seriously, your last chance to stop reading…..
So here’s what I’m thinking –
My first reaction to the ending was that Rose was completely delusional and more specifically had schizophrenic tendencies or schizophreniform disorder. Initially, I was more attracted to the delusional element of this diagnosis rather than the split personality bit of schizophrenia simply because I felt that as well as being delusional, Rose was deliberately deluded by Odalie for much of the time. Delusional + deluded = crazy times.
If we focus on the delusional/ deluded scenario, it complements the idea that Odalie stole Rose’s identity (and that Odalie and Ginerva are the same person) – elements of the ending support this, particularly around the death of Teddy. It would have been in Odalie’s interests to pin Teddy’s death on Rose and Rose, already somewhat unstable, discovered that she had been well and truly betrayed by the person she considered her only friend.
This theory works right up until the epilogue and then it falls apart because Rose mentions the look in Teddy’s eyes as he fell off the balcony. So you go from thinking that Odalie did it to ‘knowing’ that Rose did. Huh.
Furthermore, I had trouble matching the stolen identity theory with the last line of the book – “How about that, Odalie, I think, and take another drag of the cigarette. Two can play at this game.” At that point, with Rose stuck in a mental institution, if there was any ‘game’, Odalie is surely the winner?!
So then there’s the possibility of Odalie being one of Rose’s alternate personalities (and therefore Ginerva is also the same person).
When I discussed the ending with my best reading buddy, her first response was “Fight Club“. I haven’t seen this film or read the book but after she gave me a quick rundown, I agreed that the most likely scenario was in fact that Rose and Odalie are multiple personalities of Ginevra. Rose ‘spying’ and keeping tabs on Odalie and the contrast between being judgmental and trying to win her affection work with this theory. You see an interesting little crossover between the personalities with the Vitalli case and also played out with the flirting/ disapproval of the Lieutenant Detective.
This theory also works better with the epilogue, particularly with the last line and the bit where ‘Rose’ cuts her hair. It also works with the author’s rather coy comments on the ending of The Other Typist –
“Well, I have an idea of what I think happened, but I’m usually reluctant to share it, because I don’t like robbing a reader of any theory developed on his or her own. Once again though, for me, this goes back to the writing process being a rather passive state. As I listened to Rose’s voice in my head, I wondered to myself sometimes: Is Rose just totally nuts? Even I had my doubts! But in the end, I saw the end scene as Rose’s final transformation. Her eyes are open, she’s finally able to drop the I-miss-the-days-of-Victorian-sisterhood act, and become a new, terrifyingly “modern” woman.
But have I missed the point entirely? Are there other possibilities? Do we have to wait for the movie version of the book to fully realise Rindell’s vision?
Honestly, I feel that I have sold my soul writing this post but, as my reading buddy said, the joy of great stories like The Other Typist is the discussion that happens afterwards and an online discussion is as equally valid as a face-to-face one. So to all the readers pondering the ending of this marvelous book, what do you think happened?
I came across an Amazon discussion about the ending and a few new scenarios are proposed:
That Odalie is a real person and that Rose and Ginerva are the same person – look for D. Summerfield’s thoughts in the discussion thread.
“There are at least two murders committed — Teddy and Gib — and most likely three because I think that Ginevra’s mother was murdered also. It is possible that Rose/Ginevra committed two of those (her mother and Teddy) but her actions are accounted for during the time that Gib is killed. But Odalie could have killed all three, and I think that’s what happened.”
Then Janet Perez fleshes out the idea that Odalie and Ginerva are the same person but also reasons why the alternate personalities theory is a red herring –
“The author wants us to think the Odalie/Ginerva/Rose are all the same person, but that’s a red herring. I believe Odalie and Ginerva are the same person and framed Rose. Early in the book you can see that Odalie is almost “auditioning” the other typists to see which one is easier to manipulate. Rose is her pick and the fact that Rose also is obsessive and possessive of her friends is a bonus for Odalie. I believe Odalie always planned to make Rose the fall guy for whenever she got into some sort of jam. Initially I think it was to protect her speakeasies. Then Teddy enters the scene and poses a more formidable threat. So in one stroke, Odalie kills Teddy and Gib (whom she probably planned to dispose of at some point) and frames Rose.”