The Typewriter Girl
ALL BETSEY DOBSON HAS EVER ASKED IS THE CHANCE TO BE VIEWED ON HER OWN MERITS, BUT IN A MAN’S WORLD, THAT IS THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN When Betsey disembarks from the London train in the seaside resort of Idensea, all she owns is a small valise and a canary in a cage. After attempting to forge a letter of reference she knew would be denied her, Betsey has been fired from the typing pool of her previous employer. Her vigorous protest left one man wounded, another jilted, and her character permanently besmirched. Now, without money or a reference for her promised job, the future looks even bleaker than the debacle behind her. But her life is about to change . . . because a young Welshman on the railroad quay, waiting for another woman, is the one man willing to believe in her. Mr. Jones is inept in matters of love, but a genius at things mechanical. In Idensea, he has constructed a glittering pier that astounds the wealthy tourists. And in Betsey, he recognizes the ideal tour manager for the Idensea Pier & Pleasure Building Company. After a lifetime of guarding her secrets and breaking the rules, Betsey becomes a force to be reckoned with. Now she faces a challenge of another sort: not only to outrun her sins, but also to surrender to the reckless tides of love. . . .
Read an Excerpt
It is very important that you should learn the key-board so thoroughly that you can see it with your eyes shut, and can strike each letter without the least hesitation.
—Mrs. Arthur J. Barnes, How to Become Expert in Type-writing
Type-writer girls, they oughtn’t think too much.
Betsey knew it was so. She understood the detached and nimble attention required for speed and accuracy; she had learned to sustain such attention for pages and pages at a time. When it faltered, she was able to remind herself: Concentration, not contemplation. The words in her mind had the...see more
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Reading Group Guide
Betsey Dobson is a typewriter girl, bound and determined to earn her own living in Victorian London, even if one can barely call it a living. When she’s offered a job as excursions manager at a seaside resort, Betsey seizes the chance for a better position and a different life. In order to succeed and realize her dreams of independence, Betsey must prove not only the worth of the project, but of herself. When Betsey’s friendship with John Jones, her boss, turns to something more, she must decide whether romance and ambition can coexist, and whether her fiercely sought independence is worth sacrificing.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What does the first scene of the novel reveal about Betsey’s character? How do her actions and attitude set her apart from the other typewriter girls? In what ways is she unconventional for a woman in the 1890s?
2. During her last night with Avery, Betsey wonders if “she wanted the wrong thing, this job that could end with th see more