Title: The Typewriter Girl
Author: Alison Atlee
Review: If you are willing to put logical flaws aside and just take this book at face value, as a story about a girl who meets a guy, then it is okay. The writing stands up and the author is more than capable to put a plot together in a coherent manner. So if you are willing to stay in the shallow end you will thoroughly enjoy The Type Writer girl.
In Victorian England there were only so many jobs available to women, even the educated. This was due to the general misogyny of the era and was prevalent just about everywhere. So our heroine starts out as a maid for a well to do household, but soon runs into trouble by falling in love with the young master. Of course this just won’t work and he stands aside as his family dispose of her. So she moves on to another acceptable job for the mildly educated young woman (as in she can read and write) and becomes a typewriter girl. In the days before printers and copiers all formal correspondence had to be typed. So companies maintained large pools of women that would type up the letters all day.
It is in these circumstances she first becomes involved in a sexual relationship with a man from her office. It is this openness that attracts another less desirable gentleman, one who has power over her (what we would call sexual harassment in today’s times). She rebuffs him severely because she has found yet another, better job outside the city. She has a no nonsense attitude and the force of personality to stand up to the powers that be.
Thus we find ourselves to the main part of the story. Her power of conviction has landed her into a job normally reserved for men, which she is more than adept at; and her battling the misogynists who are trying to hold her down. Through all this she finds a champion who stands by her and eventually leads to love and happiness. Awwwww.
So on the surface it is a pleasant enough love story of a young woman who was done wrong, but yet she manages to overcome and win at the end. But I did find a few things that didn’t work for me. It seems the author took umbrage with the crap treatment of women in the Victorian times and created a very modern kick butt heroine who could go back in time and set those a-holes straight. Now while I agree that the prevailing attitudes of the time were despicable, this wasn’t a sci-fy time travel book, so as exciting it was to see this character right the wrongs, it was just not realistic; especially not time and again. She might win a battle here and there, but she definitely would have lost the war. I mean I get it, we all know women are intelligent, forceful, sexual beings in charge of their own destinies, but that would not have worked in the day. That is what makes today better.
Plus the above premise is gutted by the overall plot of the story. True happiness for our heroine at the end of the day comes from the love of a man. She overcomes when a man rescues her; from the train station, from her ex-lover, from the office in London, her current bosses, and so on. And until she gets that ring, all she has accomplished is just not enough. So we are getting two stories that do not agree; the modern woman setting the record straight, and the Victorian lady looking for a sense of self in a man. A little too schizophrenic for me.
At the end of the day if you do not think too much about the incongruencies in the plot, it is a pleasant story well told. A good freshman effort.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Quick Review: 3 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: Enjoy a good English story.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review.
Synopsis: A passionate historical debut novel about a young woman in turn-of-the-century England who finds love and independence at a seashore resort.
In Victorian London, there’s only so far an unmarried woman can go, and Betsey Dobson has relied on her wits and cunning to take herself as far as she can—to a position as a typewriter girl. But still, Betsey yearns for something more…so when she’s offered a position as the excursions manager at a seaside resort, she knows this is her chance for security, for independence, for an identity forged by her own work and not a man’s opinion. Underqualified for the job and on the wrong side of the aristocratic resort owner, Betsey struggles to prove herself and looks to the one person who can support her new venture: Mr. Jones, the ambitious Welshman building the resort’s pleasure fair. As she and Mr. Jones grow ever closer, Betsey begins to dream that she might finally have found her place in the world—but when her past returns to haunt her, she must fight for what she’s worked so hard…or risk losing everything.
This eloquent debut novel displays firm propriety barely restraining seething passion—a sizzling combination reminiscent of Downton Abbey.