Triumphant Gem: Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Triumphant Gem: Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Juliet is just eighteen years old when she is recruited by MI5 (the United Kingdom’s Security Service) to transcribe the meetings of British citizens who are sympathetic to the Nazi cause. It’s no small feat – the work is tedious, terrifying, and requires Juliet to shift between various names and personae to protect her identity. She becomes a master of deception, and, in so doing, becomes acutely aware of just how many webs of lies are being spun around her. One thing Juliet knows for certain is this: no one is who or what they seem.

Ten years later, Juliet is a producer at the BBC, a far cry from her days as a recruited spy. Her job now is to create programming about the past for children – versions of history that are informed more by nostalgic ideals than concrete fact. The irony isn’t lost on her – as a spy her job was to uncover the truth – at the BBC, her job is to mask it.

Juliet fears that her life has run its course, that she is fated to become a lonely spinster. But this fear is quickly eradicated when she is confronted by figures from her past, and realises that you never truly escape the MI5. Although a different war is now being fought on a different battleground, Juliet again finds herself under threat. It is not long before she realises that there are consequences for every action, and truth behind every lie.

Kate Atkinson is an award-winning, best-selling English author whose work continues to astound and amaze readers across the world. Transcription is no exception – a work of remarkable depth and texture, this book takes you on a journey through time, asking important questions about the lies we tell ourselves and others, and the ever-shifting nature of identity.

Juliet’s character draws you in from the very beginning – observant, intelligent, sharp and witty, she is an engaging companion, carrying you through the story with a strength and world-weariness that only a truly great writer could inject into her characters.

Kate has a remarkable talent for playing fast and loosely with time – with great structural inventiveness, she shifts between time and place, carrying the reader through various portals and pockets of history.

The greatest pleasure of this novel is undoubtedly the language – Kate’s writing is injected with a cunning humour that is seldom found in historical fiction. This, accompanied by her empathetic and intelligent character descriptions and dialogue, make for a truly compelling read.

The book is an interesting fusion of spy thriller and historical fiction (though it was still meticulously researched for historical accuracy). As such there are twists and turns, surprises and intrigue. If you enjoy novels that delve into the unknown and give you a fresh perspective on history and the human condition, then we highly recommend this triumphant gem.

About the Author:

Kate Atkinson won the Costa (formerly the Whitbread) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her bestselling novels include the four featuring former detective Jackson Brodie which became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her 2013 novel Life After Life spent a record number of weeks on top of the bestsellers lists on both sides of the Atlantic, and won the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize and the Costa Novel Award, a prize Kate Atkinson won again in 2015 for A God in Ruins. Her new novel is Transcription.

Purchase a copy of Transcription here

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                      Synopsis

                      The magnificent new novel by the bestselling and award-winning Kate Atkinson, a major publishing event.‘Think of it as an adventure, Perry had said right at the beginning of all this. And it had seemed like one. A bit of a lark, she had thought. A Girls’ Own adventure.’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 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 this country’s most exceptional writers.
                      Kate Atkinson
                      About the author

                      Kate Atkinson

                      Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind The Scenes At The Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her latest novel Life After Life was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize.She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

                      Books by Kate Atkinson

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