Transcription by Kate Atkinson is the latest from this sublime author. Kate Atkinson has written eleven books in total and her last two, Life after Life and A God in Ruins are hard to beat. This time around it’s not so much life after life, but aftermath and afterlife that Atkinson is concerned with, making the point that our lives are not tidily parcelled but extend beyond moments of drama into periods of consequence and reckoning.
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 sympathisers, 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 for ever.
Ten years later, now a 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 realise that there is no action without consequence
As always with Kate Atkinson she has a very different approach to a subject or period of time in her novels. Transcription is no exception. There is so much to enjoy in this book. It is sharp, precise and funny. I love Juliet’s unspoken commentary on events and people as she sees so much absurd around her. Yet the war years were a very serious period in our history. The author portrays this humour in that celebrated British manner. She manages to capture this quirky character and as with many of Atkinson’s main characters you are not sure you like them until the end.
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 this country’s most exceptional writers.
I am always thrilled when I see a new book from Kate Atkinson as I know I am going to be in for a good read. This is an author that I cannot wait for the paperback and so I splash out on the hardback.
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