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A Novel
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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...
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...
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  • 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.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2018

    A multi-award-winning MBE widely beloved for her literary-with-an-edge writing, Atkinson here opens with 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong working in MI5 in 1940 to track the movements of British Fascist sympathizers. A decade later, when she's a BBC radio producer, her past intelligence activities come back tohaunt her.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 2, 2018
    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.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2018
    The author of A God in Ruins (2015) and Life After Life (2013) revisits the Second World War.Juliet Armstrong is 18 years old and all alone in the world when she's recruited by MI5. Her job is transcribing meetings of British citizens sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Soon, she's pulled even deeper into the world of espionage, a world she will ultimately discover is hard to escape--even after she leaves the intelligence service to produce radio programs for the BBC. Atkinson is a careful author, and the title she's chosen for this novel is more than a description of Juliet's contribution to the war effort. The concept of writing over or across--meanings available from the Latin roots that make up the word "transcribe"--runs through the book. For example, the British Fascists who think they're passing secrets to the Third Reich are actually giving them to an English spy; their crimes are both deadly serious and parodic. At the BBC, Juliet creates programming about the past for children, versions of history that rely more on nostalgia than fact. She knows she's creating an idea of England, a scrim to hang over bombed-out buildings and dead bodies. Just as Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels borrow from mystery but exist in a category apart from that genre, her latest is a sort of demystified thriller. There is intrigue. There are surprises. But the unknowns aren't always what we think they are. The deepest pleasure here, though, is the author's language. As ever, Atkinson is sharp, precise, and funny. She might be the best Anglophone author working when it comes to adverbs. Consider this exchange: "Trude suddenly declared vehemently, 'Let's hope the Germans bomb us the way they bombed Rotterdam.' 'Goodness, why?' Mrs Scaife asked, rather taken aback by the savagery of this outburst. 'Because then the cowards in government will capitulate and make peace with the Third Reich.' 'Do have a scone, ' Mrs Scaife said appeasingly."Another beautifully crafted book from an author of great intelligence and empathy.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Little, Brown and Company
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A Novel
Kate Atkinson
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