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Title:
Transcription
Title:
Transcription
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Publisher Info:
New York : Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2018.
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 25 cm
Abstract:
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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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

Kate Atkinson was born in York, and studied English Literature at the University of Dundee. She earned her Masters Degree from Dundee in 1974. She then went on to study for a doctorate in American Literature but she failed at the viva (oral examination) stage. After leaving the university, she took on a variety of jobs from home help to legal secretary and teacher. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year ahead of Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh and Roy Jenkins's biography of William Ewart Gladstone. It went on to be a Sunday Times bestseller.

Since then, she has published another five novels, one play, and one collection of short stories. Her work is often celebrated for its wit, wisdom and subtle characterisation, and the surprising twists and plot turns. Her most recent work has featured the popular former detective Jackson Brodie. In 2009, she donated the short story Lucky We Live Now to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Atkinson's story was published in the 'Earth' collection. In March 2010, Atkinson appeared at the York Literature Festival, giving a world-premier reading from an early chapter from her forthcoming novel Started Early, Took My Dog, which is set mainly in the English city of Leeds.

Atkinson's bestselling novel, Life after Life, has won numerous awards, including the COSTA Novel Award for 2013. The follow-up to Life After Life is A God in Ruins and was published in 2015. This title won a Costa Book Award 2015 in the novel category.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Atkinson's suspenseful novel (following A God in Ruins) is enlivened by its heroine's witty, sardonic voice as she is transformed from an innocent, unsophisticated young woman into a spy for Britain's MI5 during WWII. Initially recruited to transcribe secretly recorded conversations between British fascist sympathizers who think they are conspiring with the Gestapo, Juliet Armstrong is one day given an infiltration assignment (and a gun), during which she discovers an important document-and just like that, she becomes an undercover agent. Her growing realization of the serious nature of what at first seems like an "espionage lark" is made more intriguing by her attraction to her enigmatic boss. Juliet finds herself running a safe house for a Russian defector until the war's end, after which she lives in an unspecified location abroad for decades. It's in the 1970s that agents return and insist that she get back in the game as a double agent, and she realizes there's no exit. If Atkinson initially challenges credibility because Juliet slides too quickly from being a naive 18-year-old into a clever escape artist and cool conspirator, her transition into idealistic patriot and then ultimately jaded pawn in the espionage world is altogether believable. The novel's central irony is that the desperation for victory in a noble cause later becomes tainted with ruthless political chicanery. The book ends on an uncertain note for Juliet, a poignant denouement for this transportive, wholly realized historical novel. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* As in her sublime Life after Life (2013), Atkinson again jumps between different periods in the mid-twentieth century to tell the story of a singular Englishwoman trapped in the vice of history. In 1940, during the phony war, 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong is a well-read, if somewhat naive, young woman, more concerned with the introduction of meat rationing than with the coming of the real war, the one where you might be killed. Even her work, transcribing conversations between an MI5 agent and various fifth columnists, seems oddly unthreatening, given the dim-witted ordinariness of these comically British would-be traitors, obsessed with their numerous biscuit breaks. But then, suddenly, it doesn't seem ordinary anymore. What happens in 1940 to change Juliet's view of the world is revealed gradually, as Atkinson jumps from wartime London to 1950 and Juliet's postwar life as a radio producer for the BBC. Often, when writers attempt to tell two related but different stories, the reader picks a favorite and loses interest in the other. That's never the case here. Atkinson is a masterful narrative strategist, linking her two stories by the appearance in Juliet's postwar world of figures from her MI5 days and the suggestion that she is now at risk for what happened then. This is a novel full of surprises Juliet is far more complex than she seems at first but also one full of indelible characters, both at MI5 and the BBC, as Atkinson never fails to take us beyond an individual's circumstances to the achingly human, often-contradictory impulses within. And, as all of Atkinson's readers know, she is an exquisite writer of prose, using language with startling precision whether she is plumbing an inner life, describing events of appalling violence, or displaying her characters' wonderfully acerbic wit. Evoking such different but equally memorable works as Graham Greene's The Human Factor (1978) and Margaret Drabble's The Middle Ground (1980), this is a wonderful novel about making choices, failing to make them, and living, with some degree of grace, the lives our choices determine for us.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Juliet Armstrong is recruited to MI5 in 1940, when she was 18. She spends the war years listening to and transcribing the conversations of a group of British Fascist sympathizers. Soon her role becomes more than just an observer, and she must decide whom she can trust. A decade later, Juliet is working at the BBC when she starts getting threatening notes. People and events that she thought were firmly in the past start creeping into the light, and Juliet must find out where the threat is coming from before it's too late. The story jumps back and forth among decades, which can be challenging but has the effect of revealing the story in tantalizing little pieces. With an ending that will take listeners by surprise, this is an unforgettable novel. Narrator Fenella Woolgar subtly but effectively conveys the many characters, providing a truly immersive experience. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Atkinson, Tana French, and Emily St. John Mandel. ["With a fascinating cast of characters, careful plotting, and lyrical language in turns comical and tragic, Atkinson's complex story carefully unveils the outer demands and inner conflicts that war inflicts": LJ 6/15/18 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]-Donna Bachowski, Grand Island, FL © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.