BOOK REVIEW: Transcription by Kate Atkinson

'Think of it as an adventure, Perry had said right at the beginning of all this. And it had seemed like one. A bit of a lark, she had thought. A Girls Own adventure.'
In 1940, eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the  comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of these years have been relegated to the past for ever.
Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. 

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 333

Kate Atkinson is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I was a huge fan of Life After Life and A God in Ruins so I was very excited to read her latest book. Transcription is wonderful. I really took my time with it as I read it over the busy Christmas period but I'm glad I didn't rush as I enjoyed it so much from start to end.
The main character is Juliet Armstrong, she's terribly British, no-nonsense and I was very fond of her by the end of the book. At the age of eighteen, Juliet is recruited by MI5 to work as a typist, transcribing the conversations between British Fascist sympathizers . As these things often played out, Juliet is soon given other duties and quickly finds herself at the centre of a tangled and dangerous web. We re-join her in 1950 where she is now working as a producer at the BBC. She thinks the war is long behind her but the past comes knocking on her door looking for answers and retribution.
I find Kate Atkinson's writing so compelling, it is wonderfully nostalgic as she discusses London during the war but she does not shy away from the horrors either. Atkinson covers bombings, murders and loss in such a clever way, her descriptions are sympathetic and full of emotion but also somehow matter of fact. Reading accounts from the war and talking to relatives who lived through it, I think she has it spot on. People were surrounded by tragedy during those years and it must have come to feel like some bizarre form of normality.
The espionage element of the book is fantastic and brilliantly subtle. There are so many instances where you are holding your breath as you just don't know what the outcome will be. Transcription is full of humour too, Atkinson slips it in in the most unexpected of places and she will have you laughing out loud.
I always get to the end of this author's books and want to shout about them from the rooftops! Transcription is wonderful, it is captivating and skilful,  you will not be disappointed.


Nadia A said...

Dot, sounds like such a good read. I have it on my TBR now thanks to you :) I really like the book's cover, too.

Dot said...

Ah that's good to hear, will be interested to hear what you think! Hope that you enjoy it and belated Happy New Year!

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