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Transcription (2018)

by Kate Atkinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,714967,490 (3.69)167
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 those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio 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.… (more)
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English (94)  Piratical (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Kate Atkinson seems to have a true affinity with World War II, and she demonstrates it once again in this novel of a young woman who o a lark takes a job transcribing recorded conversations between an MI-5 agent and Nazi sympathizers, and gradually finds herself drawn into the murky world of espionage. And as with most spies, her life goes from long periods of boredom to terrifying narrow escapes from being caught out.

The ending is a shocker, but no spoilers here. Just read it. ( )
  etxgardener | May 17, 2021 |
The first part of the book was excellent, with a sympathetic protagonist. The second part, after the war, tried to become more of a spy thriller and I didn't find it as interesting. Brilliant writing. ( )
  lisahistory | May 5, 2021 |
This was one of those just meh, yet enjoyable reads. The plot wasn't as interesting as it could have been and I didn't really care about the characters all that much. I did enjoy the book though. It's a lot lighter than most WWII historical fiction that I've read and that was nice. I also like how they hinted at the SOE F section as that's my favourite spy group to read about and they are very unknown so you don't see them a lot outside of historical fiction 9an even then there's not a lot). Would totally recommend this book though. ( )
  afrozenbookparadise | Apr 22, 2021 |
Another great tale from Atkinson which I enjoyed very much indeed. ( )
  JBD1 | Apr 22, 2021 |
Life After Life is one of my all-time favorite books, and the audiobook read by Fenella Woolgar (possibly the most British name ever) is a big part of why I loved it. Transcription reunites narrator and author, and although I didn’t love this book as much, it’s still a damn good read.

Atkinson has a talent for the sort of imagery that surprises you with its incongruous perfection, and Woolgar’s delivery of Juliet’s world-weary witticisms is bar none. I just didn’t think the story resonated as much as Ursula’s adventures throughout her many, varied lives.

I’m also not sure how I felt about the end of the book. To a certain degree, it’s a spy novel, with the requisite misdirection and twists, but I felt like the ending didn’t have the punch that it should have once Atkinson laid all her cards on the table.

Still, she is an author I will follow wherever she wants to go. I’ve still got the rest of the Jackson Brodie mysteries to read, as well as her early novels. ( )
  unsquare | Feb 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
This idea of consequences, and of every choice exacting a price later, runs like a watermark through Transcription, as it did through its two predecessors. At times, the novel is guilty of making its historical parallels a little too emphatic:... Transcription stands alongside its immediate predecessors as a fine example of Atkinson’s mature work; an unapologetic novel of ideas, which is also wise, funny and paced like a spy thriller. While it may lack the emotional sucker punch of A God in Ruins, Transcription exerts a gentler pull on the emotions, offering at the end a glimmer of hope, even as it asks us to consider again our recent history and the price of our individual and collective choices. It could hardly be more timely.
added by KayCliff | editGuardian, Stephanie Merritt (Sep 4, 2018)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Woolgar, FenellaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Epigraph
‘In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.’
Winston Churchill
This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting in the year 1931, Sir John Reith being Director General. It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.
Translation of Latin inscription in the foyer of British Broadcasting House
Z      Stands for ‘Zero’, the hour still abed
When a new England rises and the old one is dead.
From the Right Club’s ‘War Alphabet’
Dedication
For Marianne Velmans
First words
‘MISS ARMSTRONG? MISS Armstrong, can you hear me?’
Quotations
Recently she had bought a new book, by Elizabeth David - "A Book of Mediterranean Food". A hopeful purchase. The only olive oil she could find was sold in her local chemist in a small bottle. "For softening earwax?" he asked when she handed over her money.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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 those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio 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.

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