Book Review – Transcription

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday) ISBN: 9780857525895


I must confess that I would read anything by Kate Atkinson because she writes beautifully. I would not have chosen this book if she had not written it. The subject matter is mildly interesting, but not something that grabs me.

It is 1940 and the world is at war. Recently orphaned, and unable to go to university, 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong is recruited into an obscure department of MI5. She is asked to transcribe the comings and goings of British fascist sympathisers, and then to infiltrate their circles. Juliet is clever, lively, and yearning for a life of love and excitement. She fits effortlessly into the espionage world, fulfils her duties, and survives the war.

The novel shifts to 10 years later where we find Juliet working at the BBC. She finds that she is being targeted by figures from her past. Who are they and what do they want from her? More importantly, what do we really know about Juliet?

I found the time-jump awkward and the plotting and pacing suffers from it. The characters are not particularly likeable and it is difficult to be empathetic. However, the book is worth reading for the writing alone.

If you like spy thrillers, you should enjoy this book.

Amanda Patterson

Posted on: 23rd December 2018