So this listen was a bit on the impulsive side. But as soon as it released, and the bloggers got their hands on the ARCs (and in my case the audio), the Internet positively exploded with chatter. It was twisty. It was psychological. There was speculation on the protagonist...was she unreliable?
Plus the book is an Amy Einhorn imprint. Just saying. You never go wrong in that department.
Synopsis: Rose Baker efficiently lives her life as a typist for a police precinct in prohibition-era New York City. (Shades of Gatsby anyone?) She isn't a ninny, mind you...she can handle the deposition of the most grievous crime...but she is plain, having been raised in an orphanage by nuns, and is a rule-follower.
That is, until the attractive, stylish and elusive Odalie whisks into her life as another typist at the precinct. Soon the women become friends and Rose is pulled into Odalie's whirlwind life of beaded dresses, speakeasies and loosened morals. But something isn't quite right. Rose keeps hearing different stories about Odalie's past, but is never concerned enough to leave the lifestyle or forego Odalie's friendship. Rose loves the way Odalie makes her feel pretty, and has always longed to have a best friend with which to do each other's hair and giggle at secret jokes.
Then things start to fall apart. Odalie makes a few moves that upset Rose, then someone shows up from Odalie's past, and a sense of foreboding begins to overshadow the world surrounding them.
My thoughts: I realize that is a bit of a crappy description, but as you may have heard a thousand times at this point, it has to stay vague because...who really knows what the hell is going on in this book? It is mind-bending and twisty to the point where, at the end? I've no clue to the truth of it all. This would be the perfect book club selection, because this is a novel that needs to be discussed and debated.
I will admit that Rose annoyed me from the very start of the book. She has a holier-than-thou attitude towards everyone, and is very proud of herself (how many times can someone use the word "intuit"? Did the author do that on purpose?). She tells you over and over how awesome and righteous she is, and quickly my "unreliable narrator radar" went off with a loud wail. If nothing else, she has a needy, obsessive, creeper mentality towards attractive women. But as the book progressed, however, I wasn't sure I'd even want eye contact with the woman.
At the same time, Odalie was feeling kinda slimy and sleezy too. Since the book is narrated completely by Rose, though, how much of that is trustworthy?
Since we have all been awash with the glitz of this era due to Gatsby-itis, it was fun to read another book where you can experience the decadence, the alcohol, the corruption and the fashions of that time.
Overall this was a fun ride, but I had one niggling issue that is hard to explain. It feels like this type of story has been done before, in movies and in books. The conclusion is so ambiguous that I'm not sure. The essence is there anyway, of a weary device. And if you like everything explained and wrapped up at the end, you won't get it here.
A few words about the audio production: The narrator for this book was Gretchen Mol, who is a movie and TV actress but new to audio narration. Never fear, she did an excellent job, although she sounded almost too innocent for the women in this story. She was very pleasant to listen to, and I hope we see more of her.
Listening length: 10 hours and 6 minutes (368 pages)
4 out of 5 stars