I cannot help myself, I am often drawn to a book by its cover and THE TYPEWRITER GIRL reached out and grabbed me. I have a fondness for period reads and THE TYPEWRITER GIRL is that and more. While the place Alison Atlee crafted within THE TYPEWRITER GIRL does not exist, the underlying custom and rules of this time gone by do indeed.
It is London and a single girl without the right pedigree only has so many options. Betsey Dobson grew up in service and after her employer’s son breaking her heart, she decided to pursue business. She went to secretarial school and had an unfortunate incident, aided by her brother-in-law she landed a prominent position as a typewriter girl at Baumston & Smythe, Insurers only to have another unfortunate incident. One has to wonder if she attracts trouble or is it just a string of bad luck but either way it is hard not to keep your fingers crossed for her.
But had her path not taken this direction she never would have been at Baumston & Smythe, Insurers and met the Welshman Mr. John Jones. In a brief encounter there was something about her and he offered her a position on his dream project at the Idensea Pier & Pleasure Building Company. At first she dismissed this but then she left in flight with nothing to lose.
Even Betsey’s trip to Idensea was not without incident but Mr. Jones was there to rescue her. Through their passion and hard work for Idensea Pier the two come to support and understand each other. And though it would not seem to be the natural progression of things given their circumstances Betsey is there to rescue John as well.
I am always appreciative when a building/structure is a character and within these pages Atlee has done that with the Hotel/Pier. And then the cast of supporting characters just make the story better and better without providing a distraction.
THE TYPEWRITER GIRL was well written and captured a time that was full of innocence and yet so very complicated. It made me smile everyday with its tenderness and at the same time feel frustrated at the cruelty of the times. So glad the concept of “ruin” is rarely thought of about a young woman anymore but more aptly reserved for thoughts of Rome. Betsey made me proud with her chin held high, determination and clever wit even though her past and gender seemed to limit her possibilities.
If you like to know the inspiration behind the story, Atlee has crafted a Pinterest board that fills in the blanks. http://pinterest.com/alisonatlee/the-typewriter-girl-illustrated/. Cannot wait to go back to the referenced sections in the book and revisit them with inspiration and pictures in hand. Thank you Alison Atlee for your twitter friendship and I look forward to your next novel.