by Kate Atkinson

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A dramatic story of WWII espionage, betrayal, and loyalty, by the #1 bestselling author of Life After Life

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.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316453318
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 733,008
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named England's Whitbread Book of the Year in 1996. Since then, she has written nine more ground-breaking, bestselling books, most recently A God in Ruins. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Transcription: A Novel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Kate Atkinson's novels. Started with Case Histories, then read the Jackson Brodie series and went back to Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I love finding myself caught up by her characters' inner dialogue, their quirky "voice." I thoroughly appreciate that Ms. Atkinson follows her nose to topics that are fresh, giving her twist on a unfamiliar subject.
gaele More than 1 year ago
AudioBook Review Stars: Overall 3 Narration 4 Story 2 I’m addicted to tales of spies and spymasters, and World War II is a particular favorite – I have family that was involved in the Resistance in France, and have always wondered just how different the world would be now had people not risen up to the challenge, and managed to endure the hardships. That all being said, the ‘normal people” much like the protagonist here in Juliet, who were doing their part and soon found that their part was often more complex than ever imagined. But, this is Juliet’s story, and her strange transition for an untrained and quite frankly impulsive and often wrong-footed Juliet into the complexities of spying was an interesting, if quite uneven read. Flashes in time that move forward and back with little explanation (or quite frankly, connection) to the moment at hand, the very clever quips and observations that feel utterly unlike something Juliet could imagine herself, and the obvious attention to source material by the author that shows her familiarity with many stories of the day, the procedures and even the challenges were wholly understood, if often seeming to come off as unconnected to the story at hand. For me, Juliet was immature and not so clever, unaware of the real dangers in her inability to keep cover stories straight, and while the moaned repeatedly about how boring her ‘transcription’ time was – there wasn’t a sense that she had a true understanding of her importance in the overall scheme or even in keeping her stories straight and her wits sharp. And then there were issues with pacing and a poorly contrived twist that was little more than a moment to yawn, having not established any real connection or explanation to the story as we have seen it. I was sad to find the story itself so uninspiring, as there was a gem underneath all of the fluff that didn’t connect, even after a second listen. But, there were moments beyond the author’s obvious connections to the story’s factual points that reached beyond any personalization of the story unfolding, trying to be more connected to listeners and readers alike, and it was for those moments that I kept listening, while never actually developing any sort of connection to Juliet or to see her grow in any substantial ways. Narration for this story is provided by Fenella Woodgar and she was marvelous to listen to- keeping characters clearly evident, becoming Juliet in all of her frustrating moments, and finding a sense of wonder in the earlier moments when things are new. Her voice is clear and well matched to the writer’s style, the jumps in time forward and back, the ability to provide emotion that is presented without overdoing the moment as well as clearly presenting a tone for retelling of transcribed bits was spot on and gave me the interest in continuing on with the listen. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not finish boring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story about an rarely thought of part of WWII. I usually like a story that twists but it was truly confusing at times and lingered too long in some sections.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author never had me fully engaged. Too many people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
World War II novels are generally my favorites but this novel did not compare with many I have read. I thought it started out very slowly and never really developed into a page turner. With the exception of Juliet the other characters were never fully developed. I feel like I learn from every book I read and this particular viewpoint I had never read about so I’m sure I learned something.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im a huge fan of Kate Atkinson but this has been a huge dissappointment. It just did not work nor did any of the characters develop to where i cared about any of them. What a major let down
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Transcription is the fourth stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. In 1940, eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong finds herself recruited into the Secret Service. Mostly it’s fairly boring, typing up reports and transcribing recordings of agents meeting with British Nazi-sympathisers. But then she’s given another identity and the work gets more interesting, for a while. After one exciting episode, arrests are made. But there were some incidents about which Juliet doesn’t like to think too much, and when the war ends, she’s not sorry to leave it all behind. Five years later, Juliet is working for the BBC producing children’s programs when a face from the past appears: the man who posed as the Gestapo contact passes her in the street. What is disconcerting is that he pretends not to know her. On the heels of this, a somewhat threatening note is delivered, more of her former colleagues from MI5 flit in and out, and she feels sure she is being followed. Frustrated for information from official channels, Juliet decides to become the hunter rather than the prey. Once again, Atkinson gives the reader a plot that is perfectly plausible, but filled with twists and red herrings. Her depiction of London during the war and in the immediate aftermath has an authentic feel, with the social attitudes portrayed appropriate for the era. Her protagonist is easily believable: Juliet is intelligent but still naïve, although perhaps not quite as innocent as she first seems. Her descriptive prose is excellent, as always, and Atkinson no doubt delighted in dropping this piece of dialogue in the final pages: “Fisher clapped his hands, as if to signal the end of the entertainment and said, ‘Come now, quite enough of exposition and explanation. We’re not approaching the end of a novel, Miss Armstrong.’” Another Atkinson masterpiece.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not so swell.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading stories taking place in WWII . I like to think I'm getting an education. This book is interesting, but a bit disjointed. It takes place in multiple times from the "present" to 1940. No one is whom they seem or portray themselves to be. Today's safest "friend" may well be selling you out tonight. All this was interesting, but several story threads seemed left unfinished. Did x actually steal? Did y actually plan to sell pictures to the other side? I was left wondering, especially about the primary character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CynB More than 1 year ago
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson, is a transfixing novel set primarily in London during WWII. It is a complex mix of genres: historical fiction, mystery, thriller, and character study. Juliet is everything you would expect from a heroine in that she is plucky, smart, and resourceful. She is also painfully naïve and simultaneously cynical and funny…saying one thing while aware that she is thinking something entirely contrary. This story has a lot of espionage-related action, including murder, but we see and process it from Juliet’s vantage point. As with our own lives, what is most dramatic in retrospect was mundane when it happened. Atkinson is a master of prose and literature. I always want a highlighter nearby to capture a particularly memorable sentence or reference. Also, I suspect that I eventually will want to reread this novel for its language and nuance, taking my time to savor both without the need to rush ahead to learn the story’s end. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. #Transcription #NetGalley
Thebooktrail-com More than 1 year ago
Hitler was collecting countries like stamps. How long before he had the full set? This is a snapshot of history inspired by a series of transcripts the author discovered. In fact there is one line in the book uttered by Juliet which sums up this novel for me : “History should always have a plot …. How else could you make sense of it?” For Juliet is recruited into the world of spies and intrigue with MI5 and her job is to transcribe meetings between an agent working under cover as a Fifth Columnist and the various fascist agents he comes into contact with. This is a fascinating part of history and one I’d not really heard that much about. Entering this world and seeing it through the eyes of the various players was a treat and you can feel the research and author interest oozing off the page. Never does it get in the way of the story though – that’s Atkinson’s trademark after all – top class research, complex issues and an easy to read treat of a novel. What made this novel for me was the humour – wry and caustic at times – “‘Hypocaustum from the Ancient Greek – hypo meaning beneath and caust burnt. Which word do you think we get from that?’ ‘I have no idea,’ she said, caustically.” Linguists will love this – word play, editorial jokes and those war time transcripts which fuel the behind the scenes of wartime. I’ve transcribed many meeting notes myself as a translator but never quite as interesting as these. To have them dotted throughout the novel, in a different font and set out as if they were inserts in a history book, is also something history buffs in particular will appreciate. It all works really really well even if I did think Juliet seemed very naive for working in the foreign office and for …well life in general at times. There wasn‘t quite enough novel to go round either – so much complexity there, research, war time intrigue but I felt the novel was too short and I was left feeling there should have been more. It was fourth gear rather than fifth. Kindle or e-readers should perhaps be prepared to take a few notes as the timeline does move around and flip back and forth quite a bit and with the transcripts too, it might be tricky to keep track of some threads. Don’t be tempted to read the author note beforehand though as that’s a story in itself! There’s so much scope in this world and I hope Kate Atkinson returns to it.
Davids3 More than 1 year ago
Transcription is a well written book. The characters are so well constructed and the scenes so vividly painted, i found myself there in London most of the time. And the ending was a pleasant surprise, which is such a surprise these days. It is a great book to read just for the fun of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Raw and refined, real and imagined - worth the trip!
anneinaz More than 1 year ago
Transcription by Kate Atkinson is a World War II era story about a low-level employee at Britain's MI5 and the impact it had on her entire life. All over the world a revolution took place during the war when men had previously held women got out of the home and filled positions in the workplace that. After the war, they struggled to find their place in the world. Once a spy, always a spy? These facts made life difficult for Juliet Armstrong. The story opens when Juliet is lying on the ground surrounded by ambulance attendants after being hit by a car (many years after the war). In her delirium, her mind goes to the past and her story begins. It's 1940 and she is in a low-level clerical position (working out of a prison) when she is approached for another position, away from the prison. By 1950, she is a program director at the BBC, not all that thrilled with her life. She is unmarried and in a boring job. One day she sees a man from her spy days and the adventure begins. Transcription is a dramatic look into post WW II life for an English woman. It's also an interesting take on the politics after the war and the battle for power by relatively low level MI5 employees in danger of being excised now that the war is over. This era is extremely interesting and Transcription is a different viewpoint, for sure. It was interesting. I recommend it. If the reader is a lover of this era or historical fiction in general, this choice will not go amiss. I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. #netgalley #transcription
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disclaimer: I'm biased where Kate Atkinson is involved. Hence, 4 stars. I was not entranced, but rather intrigued by this subtle spy novel. Admirable writing and research, less so the story. Perhaps because I have read similar, lately. [WWII] "During WWII, Juliet Armstrong was conscripted into service as a young woman, transcribing conversations between an MI5 agent and a ring of suspected German sympathizers. Years later, in 1950 post-war London, Julie can't escape the repercussions of her work for the government, and is pulled back into the life of espionage she thought she'd left behind." A work of historical fiction. In the author's note, Atkinson says the book was rooted in reality. But "..for everything that could be considered an historical fact in this book, I made something up--and I'd like to think that a lot of the time readers won't be aqble to tell the difference." Kudos for the wit [unexpected and sprinkled throughout], the character observations, the weaving of the story [back and forth, WWI and 1981]. One example of humor: "Has the cat got your tongue? (What an awful idea, Juliet thought. And how would the cat get it--by accident or by design?)" Juliet, the main character, often less interesting than others who populated the novel. Still--no spoiler alert--taken by surprise towards the end--which is always a bonus for me. The situation involving Juliet's work as a transcriptionist--very interesting. And just certain sentences that captured my attention: "Thinking had always been her downfall." "She spoke wth a debutante drawl herself--a laryngitic, smoke-infused one..." "The war still seemed like a matter of inconvenience rather than a threat." "She seemed fond of lace, it decorated her substantial hull in many manifestations." "Juliet was also finding herself unnerved by Mrs. Scaife's fur tippet--at stoat or a weasel--that was wound so tightly round her neck that it appearted to be trying to strangle her." And so on. And I learned something new [looked it up]--what a siren suit is--a one-piece suit used to go to/from air raids. So, if you like Atkinson and appreciate good writing and research--this book's for you.
WyHalo More than 1 year ago
As an Atkinson fan, I’m more than satisfied. This is the story (stories) of Juliet Armstrong, a young transcriptionist for MI5 during WWII. Like most Atkinson books, this jumps forward and back in time and events and things about the characters are revealed bit by bit. I don’t want to say too much about Juliet or what happens because I so enjoyed discovering everything for myself and don’t want to spoil it. Whether you’ve read and loved Life After Life or the Brody books or not, I encourage you to read this. I received a free ebook ARC from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. This is my honest review.
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
4.5 I'm not going to give details of the books, as the overview already does a good job of that and I do not want to reveal any secrets. Suffice it to say this was smashing! While it starts a bit slow, that is more than overcome by Violet's delightful British wit. By the second half of the story, I really had to pay attention to what was going on. Eventually the book became unputdownable. I am embarrassed to admit this is my first Kate Atkinson novel. On a positive note, I picked such a good one I cannot wait to read some of her others. I received this from Little, Brown and Company via Netgalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Usually love her books , couldnt even finish this one