Author: Kate Atkinson
Transcription is a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance.
Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a young woman by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service. In the aftermath of war she joins the BBC, where her life begins to unravel, and she finally has to come to terms with the consequences.
Transcription manages to effortlessly evoke 1940s/ 1950s London, and a London full of secret missions and spies at that, without being too confusing (something I sometimes find with spy thrillers). It’s very much not a thriller in my opinion, but instead a slow burner that pulls you in until you’re completely absorbed in Juliet’s world.
The characters are interesting and likable, and Juliet in particular seems like a smart woman despite being very preoccupied with finding a husband – a sign of the times perhaps? It offers an interesting perspective on WW2 intelligence and I loved reading about Juliet’s activity and efforts to transcript the monitored conversations. I sometimes lost track of who was who, as there’s a lot of character names, but it was by no means confusing – definitely what I’d class as an ‘enjoyable read’.
This is certainly not an ‘action-packed’ novel, but it is an interesting, sharp story set during an era I’m always really interested in reading about. As expected, Kate Atkinson’s writing is fantastic and a joy to read.