The Typewriter Girl
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The Typewriter Girl

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3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  654 ratings  ·  139 reviews
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…...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Gallery Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Misfit
Quote from page 2:

"A fuck made him a sound sleeper..."

I really didn't need the f-bomb dropped on page two in such a crude manner. Moving on.
Lydia Presley
I had high hopes for The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee. I mean, I read that this book would be for lovers of Kate Morton and trust me... I'm right up there in fangirl status when it comes to Morton. So I thought okay - great recommendation, great cover, interesting premise, and feminist leanings! Perfect!

But it wasn't so perfect. What I expected was to read about a woman who, in spite of the limitations placed on her by the time she was living in, managed to rise above it all and make a life f...more
Abby
Feb 12, 2013 Abby rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: edited
I edited this book, so it's no surprise that I love it. I acquired THE TYPEWRITER GIRL because Betsey was so unlike most heroines of the period--I loved her flouting of sexual mores, her ambition, and her independent streak that was both flaw and virtue. I think that Betsey can be her own worst enemy at times, but repeatedly finds inner resources that help her make the most of herself. I was charmed by Mr. Jones, whose cagey confidence covers up a well of pain and insecurity...and I couldn't res...more
Erin
The cover and description of this book are completely misleading. The main character, Betsey is made out to sound like someone from a Jane Austen novel when in reality, she is more of a Sally Bowles from Caberet-huge difference!! The description claims that "all Betsy Dobson has ever asked is the chance to be viewed on her own merits..." Seriously???!!! She is completely dependent on men and continues to be..in every possible way. Honestly, I couldn't even follow the dialog n this book...kept ha...more
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
I so wanted to like this book. The cover is gorgeous and the premise sounded intriguing and if something is compared to Downton Abbey, I am there. Unfortunately, this one falls very flat from almost the very beginning.

Betsey isn't a character I remotely cared about. While I think the author wanted to show her as a feminist and someone who disregards social mores, truly she had no redeeming qualities. There is also prolific profanity and a vulgarity that was unnecessary and disconcerting. As many...more
Anne


I had mixed feeling about this one. I was drawn to this one by the cover right away, I thought it was beautifully done. I also enjoyed reading about the two main characters, Betsey and John. Betsey was smart and capable and brutally honest. She never tried to be someone she was not and never shied away from admitting truths about herself and I admired that about her. Mr. Jones was hardworking, intelligent, and a good solid man. I liked how they both came from poor families and worked hard to mak...more
Afton Nelson
I guess when it comes right down to it, I was uncomfortable with this main character; with her morals, the way she used sex to get what she wanted (regardless of the fact men do the same thing with impunity, so why shouldn't she). I don't blame her for her choices, but I like to read about characters who rise above their circumstances. Eventually Betsey triumphs and makes the hard, personal choices, but it was her ideas about sex and the vulgarity with which it was described, that rubbed me the...more
Cresta
The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee is a wonderful feminist manifesto. I don't know if Atlee intended for it to be such when writing, but in my humble opinion, it demonstrates the strength and courage of a woman willing to work hard to take care of herself. However, within this power of determination, Atlee does not lose the sensual traits and dainty trends of being a woman.


Elizabeth Dobson is a typewriter girl in Victorian London. This is often the high achievement of employment for an unwed wo...more
Bethany
My two main complaints of The Typewriter Girl are that it never really identified the time period it takes place in and the syntax of the sentences was confusing and takes a large portion of the book to finally get the hang of it.

For more than half of the book, I was quite confused as to the setting. The attire and decorum of the character could not be in the thirties or beyond because it was too conservative, nor was there any mention of the Great War or World War II. However, I was unaware of...more
Maggie
Feb 19, 2013 Maggie marked it as couldn-t-finish
I didn't finish this book so take my review with a grain of salt...

I heard of this book via Twitter and I was really excited to read it. When I started reading it I had some reservations in the first few pages. One of the opening scenes involves the main character having sex with her typing instructor, which I didn’t mind, but it definitely caught me off guard in a novel about an unmarried woman in Victorian England. As the story opened up I came to like the main character less and less. For som...more
Val Sanford
Betsey has a bit of a problem; she's a little too smart and little too willing to do whatever it takes to find her place in the narrow-minded world of the early 20th Century.

As a typewriter girl her job is to type but not think, and above all, not get ideas above her station. She is caught typing her own character recommendation for a new kind of job where being a woman just may not be a liability. True she was planning to leave her job, but hadn't planned on being caught, humiliated and thrown...more
Sara Palacios
I thought this book was a lot of fun and felt instantly taken back into the past. I loved Betsey from the get go and was so excited to finally get to read such a strong and forceful female literary character (it has been a while) and I love that she truly fights for what she wants. The chemistry between Betsey and Mr. Jones definitely took hold of me during my reading and I was so eager to get to the end, only to be disappointed that the book was over and I wouldn’t be able to read anymore. Over...more
Carolyn

3.5 stars

I think she (Alison Atlee) took a big risk exposing some of the more riske' parts of Betsey's past before we get to know her. Its not a spoiler because on page 2 she is talking about how Alton sleeps better after a ****. You don't really find out where she is coming from, truly, until 100 pages or more into the book and I think a lot of readers may be put off before then. She is a strong character who has done what she felt she had to, to survive and make things better for herself. Even...more
Deon Stonehouse
The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee 9781451673258
Betsey Dobson finds Victorian London hard going for an independent woman. Through sheer determination and hard work she has earned herself a position as a typewriter girl, a job overseen by an unpleasant floor-boss. The wages are a pittance and advancement will be slow coming. She jumps at the opportunity to take a job as an excursions manager at a seaside resort. Her new job stipulated good references but Betsey’s leave taking of her typewriter...more
Megan Chance
I liked this one very much. It reminded me a bit of Edith Wharton's "Summer." The setting is different: a seaside resort town in England, and that was refreshing and interesting. The characters are different as well--a woman dismissed from her position as a typist who lands a job running tours at a newly built hotel, and the man who hired her. Neither is quite what they seem, and it's this play-about with the obvious and the unseen that makes the story unexpected and hard to put down. It's a bea...more
Heidi
The Typewriter girl is one of those books you fall in love with from the start. Splendidly written and fresh and endearingly sweet. Betsey Dobson is the kind of heroine you hope for, you invest yourself into her life and you fall when she does. But then she gets back up. With pluck. Very well done. Read it for the richly flawed characters. Read it for the attention to every detail of the world in turn of the Century Britain. But, mostly, read it for the pure pleasure of it.
Tina
The author's writing style was somewhat annoying at times. Overall an okay read. I liked the premise and the location, but the writing gave me a headache once or twice.
Mary (BookHounds)
MY THOUGHTS
LOVED IT

Betsey works at an insurance company as a TypeWriter Girl, typing endlessly and monotonously day after day. She dreams of a better life and more independence, something women have little hope of during the nineteenth century. Moving against convention, Betsey take a chance when she is offered a job in Idensea on the ocean, booking tours for day trippers. She has no experience but enough gumption to try anything to get out of her rut and no chance for advancement. The problem B...more
Amy
There are sort-of spoilers here but I don't think I give anything away.

I have to say, I loved this book and I could not put it down. It was not a fast read but it is one of those books where I just wanted to keep reading and reading. I was disappointed when it ended and would love to read more about John and Elisabeth as they continue their journeys in life. I want to know more about where they ended up and how they built their lives.

Some of the language seemed harsh for the time period but my...more
Chelsey
Betsey Dobson is well past the usual age of marriage, is underqualified and has no job as of late, but yet she is still determined to be viewed as an equal in a man’s world. Betsey seems to find trouble wherever she goes, or maybe it just finds her. Left all alone and without a steady income or a steady companion, Betsey sets out in search of a new life on the London train from Idensea. Little does she know that her life is about to change. On her train ride journey she meets a man called Mr. Jo...more
Vibeke
This book is a sort of hybrid of historical fiction and historical romance, which is probably my favorite kind of story, and I'm pretty easy to please in that genre. This one's written by an exceptionally talented author. The writing, the characters, the story, the historical details--all the elements of a great novel were so well done. It was a pleasure to read, for the most part. I felt that the author sometimes got a little lost in her own prose, where attempts at subtlety became awkward or t...more
Robin Morse
Note - Received this as a Goodreads first read winner. Review to follow.

I really enjoyed reading this book. A lot of my favorite books are historical fiction and this one was a good one. I loved seeing how different the attitudes towards women of the time were and how so many things have changed over the years.

Betsey living with a man not her husband and working as a typewriter girl finds herself in trouble often but in the end finds a man who loves her for who she is and ignores her past.

Alo...more
Julie
Even though I got mixed reviews from some of my reader friends, I found this to be a great first novel. I'm interested to see where the author goes in future novels. I found Betsey and John to be very fun to watch dance around each other, struggling with their own wants and desires while being pulled to each other. Sometimes it was hard to follow the dialog, as the author was switching between points of view in a single scene, but it could have been to illustrate the conflict and tension between...more
Elizabeth
So disappointing! The old saying is true, you can not judge a book by it's cover. The cover is beautiful but that is about the only good thing I can say about this book. Only 5 out of 12 women in my book club actually finished the book and only 1 woman liked it. The rest of us felt it was a waste of time. It's hard to invest in the characters and story line as set in the 1890's. There was so much potential but it just fell short for me on so many levels.
Cindy Castillo
Honestly, I saw the cover of this book and it looked so beautiful that I got pulled in. Betsey didn't seem at all like a woman living in the 1800s or 1900s. Sure, she may have wanted some women's rights, but saying swear words that were unnecessary doesn't make her some woman who's modernized in an old time world. When I put this book down to go do something, it was one of those books where your dreading picking it back up because it's SO boring. There's way too much purple prose, and the story...more
Becca Pfnister
Solid. A little more romance-y than I had bargained for, but I enjoyed the main character and her relationship with John was entertaining.
Cassandra
This started off a little slow, but it really picked up towards the middle. Overall, I enjoyed it.
Simone James
I loved this! Delightful and thought-provoking and fun, with an unusual heroine. Terrific.
Robyn
I enjoyed this book very much. I am looking forward to the authors future novels.
Jess
I wanted to like this so much more than I did.
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Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion 19th century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.
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“Such a sky. The widest she'd ever seen. Even more than the long bow of the shoreline and the eternal spread of the sea, it was the sky Betsy could not fold into her understanding, the cliffs and hillocks of the land overturned, sculpted into the stony clouds and softened with the promise of light.” 2 likes
“Her smile held–held and yet changed, the way freshness depart white linens once you unfold them and put them on the table or bed. Still clean, bright, but something departed.” 1 likes
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