Transcription by Kate Atkinson


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 ...

Details Transcription

Release DateSep 25th, 2018
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, European Literature, British Literature

Reviews Transcription

  • Tammy
    “May I tempt you?” This question is the impetus which shifts a very young woman from a job merely transcribing traitorous conversations deliberately overheard during WWII in London into a bonafide spy. Working at the BBC ten years, later her misdeeds of the past come back to haunt her. For a novel about espionage, I found the characters to be rather dull and the plot lacking in tension.
  • Trish
    Not all of Kate Atkinson’s novels have been what she calls historical fiction, but the last several have been. This novel may hew closest to the truth, though like she says in the Author’s Note at the end, she wrenched open history and stuffed it with imaginative reconstruction, at least one fantasy for each fact. The author tells us afterward what her intentions were: we have questions—that’s inevitable—and instead of farming out possi...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    If you've only read a couple of Kate Atkinson novels, you may think she does just one thing. She doesn't. In fact, I tend to get a little miffed when she sticks with one thing for too long because I want to see her stretch out in every direction. When I started TRANSCRIPTION and realized we were back in WWII (major setting of her last two novels) I thought, "Nooooooooo not again," but I couldn't have been more wrong. This isn't a follow-up to LIF...
  • Liz Barnsley
    I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s wonderful storytelling and for me Transcription was a pure joy from the moment I started it until the moment I reluctantly set it aside.The writing is genuinely superb, beautifully done and I adored Juliet, her manner, her acerbic inner dialogue and her highly intriguing yet strangely genteel existence.The setting and the time brought to utterly vivid life, we follow Juliet as she becomes part of the war effor...
  • Maine Colonial
    Thanks to the publisher for providing a free digital ARC, via Netgalley. I just finished the book, loved it (it is very rare for me to 5-star a book), and I plan to not only re-read it, but also buy a copy when it’s published.This book is a special treat for readers who enjoy novels about people (especially women) involved in World War II and/or the Cold War intelligence work in England. Like many Kate Atkinson novels, there is some time jumpin...
  • Nancy
    Hitler was collecting countries like stamps. How long before he had the full set? Transcription by Kate AtkinsonI was swept into Transcription, enthralled with Kate Atkinson's atmospheric and witty writing, the recreation of England during the rise of Hitler, and the espionage ring with its vivid characters and uncertain alliances.The novel opens in 1950 with twenty-eight-year-old Juliet working in post-war London for the BBC."There was a better ...
  • Thebooktrail
    Visit the locations in the novelHitler 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 j...
  • Susan Johnson
    Atkinson returns to WWII again for her newest novel but it is not a sequel to her wonderful A God in Ruins book. In this one, 18 year old Juliet is hired to be be a spy for MI-5 but not a glamorous one. She sits in a small apartment transcribing conversations of British citizens who think they are reporting to a German spy. They are traitors but on such a small scale that it is almost laughable. The story flashes between 1940 and her activities a...
  • Jonathanrwilson
    4 stars just for the quality of Atkinson's writing. But for me this wasn't as epic as A God in Ruins, and by the end the plotting was too clever for its own good, even to the point where I felt a little cheated by what had come before. But still, I'll read anything this woman writes.
  • Billie
    It was fine, but I never really connected with Juliet. She was naive and a bit stupid and uninteresting because of it.
  • Latkins
    Another great novel from Kate Atkinson, this is also the second novel I've read this year which is about spies in London, dealing with fifth columnists and Nazi sympathisers during the Second World War - the other being the equally excellent Our Friends in Berlin by Anthony Quinn. Both were inspired by newly declassified documents, I believe. Anyway, this novel follows Juliet Armstrong, an orphan who's recruited into MI5 in 1940 and who finds her...
  • switterbug (Betsey)
    How do you reinvent yourself when your old job was inventing identities? Our protagonist, Juliet Armstrong, vulnerable after her beloved mother’s death, was recruited into the MI5 in 1940, when she was just eighteen. Before she was mature enough to forge her own coherent convictions, she was trained in the art of duplicity, impenetrability; her individual identity was subsumed in her patriotic one. Now, in 1950, working as a producer for the BB...
  • Megan Abbott
    Kate Atkinson at her very best (well, that's practically all the time, but ...). I told myself I'd read it slowly, savor it. But instead, I tore through it with such ferocity, I'm still quaking in my knees. Beautiful, harrowing, haunting.
  • Melissa
    I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for a review.Kate Atkinson is excellent at creating characters who inspire devotion even when the story she's telling about them is not that great. This is a tough book to review for me because I was slain by Atkinson's previous WWII-era novels and I wanted to love this so badly and it just was not of the same caliber, but I'm disoriented at the realization that while Juliet Armstrong's work fo...
  • Joanna
    Let me start by saying I won an ARC in a Goodreads Giveaway & who knows if anything noticeable will change before the book is released in September. Kate Atkinson is one of my favorites, but this one fell flat. I enjoyed the 1940 sections a lot, but the 1950 section in the middle really dragged. I liked the book, but it didn’t live up to the high standards set by Case Histories and A God in Ruins.
  • Laura
    I REALLY like Kate Atkinson’s writing, and the writing in this new novel is first-rate. But even my favorite of hers (Life After Life) left me feeling not quite *bright* enough to get the ending and the meaning of the whole thing. Transcription left me with that feeling as well, but I didn’t have the same feelings for the main character to pull me through.Juliet is a spy, working a boring day-spy job as a transcriptionist and a less boring si...
  • Marjorie
    Entertaining, thought-provoking spy novel. Recommended. Complete review to be posted closer to the publication date of 9/25/2018.
  • Anne Marie
    I absolutely LOVED this novel about espionage in WWII Britain. The surprise ending didn't disappoint, rather it made the novel more persuasive. It's clear that Ms. Atkinson did a lot of research on this novel. She includes an extensive bibliography of texts on M15 (the British spy agency) and the BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation) that she used when writing the book; the appended bibliography is more extensive than some bibliographies in ...
  • Kady
    Man this was a disappointment. Maybe I would have liked it better if it didn’t call itself a thriller so I didn’t have the expectation to be thrilled. Or maybe it would be more effective as a movie like Bridge of Spies where the music cues could do the work of building tension/excitement because the text was not doing that for me. In any case I was lost for large pieces of this. It felt like there was a lot of assumed knowledge about MI5 and ...
  • KayG
    Behind the Scenes at the Museum is one of my favorite novels, so I was eager to read the newest book by Kate Atkinson. The setting of this work of historical fiction is primarily during WWII, and the subject matter is the work of a network of English spies attempting to learn information from members of the fifth column. The main character is a young woman who transcribes these conversations. It’s always interesting for me to read stories of WW...
  • Kalen
    *** 1/2 I am puzzled by people who use 3-star ratings for books they didn't like. Alas. Kate Atkinson fans rejoice! You won't be disappointed with her next book, a solid offering. Set largely in the 1940s and 1950s, this is the story of a young woman working for MI5 and the aftermath. (Does one ever really quit working for the Service?) I had some trouble keeping characters straight (one of the downsides of an eReader) but overall, I enjoyed the ...
  • Kaijsa
    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 L...
  • Kate
    Kate Atkinson is consistently one of the very finest authors around today - very clever but also accessible - and Transcription demonstrates yet again why. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
  • Joy
    Another engaging novel with stellar writing from Kate Atkinson. She takes a satisfyingly close look at the individual’s experience of wartime and provides a unique view of espionage with an unwitting MI5 recruit.
  • Lucio Vaccarello
    Kate Atkinson uses all of her considerable literary powers to wickedly spoof the byzantine, ruthless and insane world of espionage. The story is set in Britain circa 1940 with flash forwards to 1950 and the world of the BBC for reflection and a view of the changed world. The book describes the beginnings of MI5 as told through the eyes of Juliet Armstrong, a young women of 18, still recovering from the loss of her mother. She is naive and like mo...
  • Bruce Katz
    Alas, I am unable to use my right hand — it’s in a sling — and pecking with my left hand is too arduous to write a review. Hence a few observations. This may well be my favorite book by Kate Atkinson, which is saying a lot. It’s smart and playful, serious and genuinely (though, well, playfully) suspenseful. The main character, Juliet, is a treasure: at first, terribly young, naive, funny, smart, and not immune to self-aware cliches; later...
  • Diana
    This isn't Kate Atkinson's best, but it's Kate Atkinson, so it's still pretty good. It's set in the same time period as Life after Life and A God in Ruins, but those are big, grand books, and this is slighter, narrower in scope. It's very interesting, though! Atkinson clearly fell into a research rabbit hole. She looked deeply into MI5's WWII activities and then transmuted all she took in into this tight little novel. And I can see why this rabbi...