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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  3,636 Ratings  ·  711 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 6th 2018)
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Marge Heger Not at all. She is naive, of course. But, for her times, probably not remarkably so. I found her bright, funny and easy to believe in. She lived in an…moreNot at all. She is naive, of course. But, for her times, probably not remarkably so. I found her bright, funny and easy to believe in. She lived in an age when there is so much to be angered by and it's far scarier than ours. The are parallels that ice this cake. I loved Juliet. I love all of her novels. This is one of the best.(less)
janetandjohn As it is published this year, (2018) one supposes that this was a mistake!

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Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing

It’s funny how some books can immediately grab hold of you and cast you under their spell. This is that sort of book. The book immediately transports you back to London in the 1940s and 50s. The language is just spot on perfect.

The story revolves around a young woman who is drafted to transcribe conversations among a group of fascists that have been infiltrated by MI5. Juliet is only 18 and before she knows it, has been drafted for some spying in addition to her transcription duties.

Atkinson d
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 possible answers to various reviewers, she’s just blunt with us w
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Juliet Armstrong is only eighteen years old when she is recruited by the M15 in 1940. She is tasked with transcribing the conversations of British fascists sympathizers during WWII. Before long, she is given more duties such as working as a spy herself and watching a dog which is being held for a sort of ransom. Ten years later she finds herself working for the BBC as a radio producer. She appears to have moved on with her life until those from her past come back, reminding her that one can neve ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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.
Atkinson is one of my favorite authors and, with Transcription, she has moved her star even higher. The tale is set in England, primarily London, in 1940, 1950 and 1981. The pivotal events occur in 1940, when Juliet Armstrong at 18, is recruited for the war effort. But not for any battle-related job, no. She is to file and type. Soon she is recruited further as a transcriptionist for an MI5 developed cause, to reel in and control English Fifth Column citizens, those who sympathize with the Nazis ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
PLease see full review on my blog.

I wasn't a fan of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and was hesitant to try this, but after seeing the praises I couldn't resist the temptation of asking the publisher for a copy.

This is a book that will take you to 40's and 50's, it's quintessentially British in all levels. I haven't read a more satirical, sharp, enjoyable book that takes place in WW2 so far. This piece of history is clearly something Atkinson excels in, she takes us through the war-ridden London
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-books
It is always a pleasure to open a new book by Kate Atkinson. I know I am going to find something well written, totally absorbing and above all original. How she does it I do not know.

In Transcription she takes us to 1940 World War 2 London, where we meet Juliet, an eighteen year old girl who has just been recruited by MI5. There is a lot more to this Juliet than meets the eye and she continued to surprise me right through to the end of the book.

Atkinson writes splendid characters, especially the

I am having a really bad historical fiction year (looking at you Washington Black). So I was absolutely convinced that dropping all my reading commitments to immediately pick up Kate Atkinson's new WWII spy novel would help raise my spirits. Her previous books Life after Life and A God in Ruins are favourites of mine. I trust her to a deliver a distinct kind of uber- British novel, complete with her rather sardonic humour and droll observations.
All of these Atkinson-isms are here, at leas
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
2 oh my disappointing stars.

I do like Atkinson's novels so when this one popped up, I was anxious to begin turning pages. Unfortunately the anticipation for this novel went south as I become bogged down in a uneven plot, and the flipping of time elements. This is a book I should have loved. It had everything, World War 2, a strong intelligent woman, espionage, London, all the things that make for a poignant novel. So, what went wrong?

For me, I just could not connect with any of the characters. T
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 LIFE AFTER LIFE or A GOD IN RUINS in any significant ...more
Cindy Burnett
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Kate Atkinson's new novel, Transcription, follows Juliet Armstrong as she works in an obscure MI-5 department during World War 2 that monitors and records the activities of a pro-German group. While the work is initially boring and monotonous, an event occurs that drastically alters the department's work and Juliet's job. Fast forward a decade later, and Juliet is now working for a BBC radio station believing that her past is long behind her. However, as Juliet soon learns, actions almo
Diane Barnes
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
In not a big fan of spy novels, just not my genre, so maybe that was my problem with this book. I really expected to be blown away because, after all, it IS Kate Atkinson, but I never really connected with the main character, or any other character. I truly didn't care what happened to them, and it felt like only half my brain was engaged while reading. Having said that, there were some surprising twists and turns at the end, but, again, I just didn't care.
Peter Boyle
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Oh I had high hopes for this one. A Kate Atkinson spy novel set during World War II sounded like a winning formula to me. Indeed, the reviews of Transcription have been full of praise. But I reckon it is one of her lesser works, not reaching the heights of Life After Life or the majestic A God in Ruins.

In 1941, Juliet Stephenson is 18 years old, naive and unsophisticated. Everything changes when she is recruited by MI5. Her new job consists of listening to the recorded conversations of Nazi symp
Liz Barnsley
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 effort, gets entangled in intrigue and faces unknowable c
Canadian Reader
Espionage would probably not make my top ten list of things to read about, or even my top 100 list for that matter, so I approached Transcription with a certain wariness. The fact that it is authored by Kate Atkinson was probably the only thing that motivated me to read it in the first place.

The novel opens in 1981, “the year of a royal wedding,” with 60-year-old Juliet Armstrong falling down on a London street. Preoccupied with thoughts of her 26-year-old son and having lived abroad for many ye
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

A low key, at times almost boring spy novel. I seem to be incapable of not liking a Kate Atkinson book though. I love her books for their immersive historical background, humor and vividness of characters.
“Who spies on the spies...?” I love a good spy novel and this one was a good one, even if it did have a bit of a slow start.

Juliet Armstrong, a young woman with no family, finds herself recruited into M15, the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency. Beginning in the boring atmosphere of filing and secretarial work, she is soon moved to an apartment building where her job is to listen to recorded tapes and transcribe the dialog into reports.

Eventually Juliet is sent out into the f
Gumble's Yard
As a first comment I could not help, as a mathematician a certain enjoyment of a book set around the second World War; the third novel in a row that the author has set around that time; using her now familiar technique of blending a plot heavy and enjoyable story with a literary technique that pretty well does away with the fourth wall; and in this case with a move into the world of espionage which includes the Fifth Man; which gives her plenty of scope for clues, asides and obfuscations which s ...more
Susan Johnson
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
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 and 1950 where she has become the producer of dull
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
But then what constituted real? Wasn't everything, even this life itself, just a game of deception?

3.5 stars. Kate Atkinson's previous two novels, Life after Life and A God in Ruins are two of my all time favorite books. In these her writing was fantastic and the plot lines were innovative and thought provoking.

Because of this, I think my expectations were too high, as I was expecting more of the same in Transcription, but this is more of a traditional spy story. The writing is still superb and
4 Stars.
Superb writing.

Visit the locations in the novel

Hitler 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 job is to transcribe meetings between an agent workin
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
I absolutely loved this. This is my third novel by her and the third one I absolutely adored!
Kasa Cotugno
Kate Atkinson is one of those writers I'll read as soon as possible. Her plots, always well researched and filled with vibrant characters, hold my attention, even when, as here, comparisons to her early works causes the present one to pale somewhat in comparison (what I've come to call the "Zadie Smith syndrome"). Still this, her take on a historical espionage novel set in London during and after World War II, has enough twists and jogs worthy of the Todd family saga. She has said she'd like to ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Hitler was collecting countries like stamps. How long before he had the full set? Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I 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 life somewhere, Juliet supposed, if only she could
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
In the core of this spy novel is the question of the identity, lies and consequences - sacrifices and beliefs in the name of patriotism. Do not expect some crazy actions, because this is a very atmospherical story about crazy pre and post war time. I devoured this book in two sitting, It’s a good combination of seriousness and wittiness, and despite that this isn’t a perfect story - is well worth reading.
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 jumping here. There are short bookends set in 1981, but th
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not her best.
Flashes of brilliance but ultimately the whole thing lands flat as it gets lost in its own artifice. It feels like an unfinished novel but not in a good or illuminating way.

One more key thing. Never at any point did I have any concerns about Juliet - not about her safety, her state of mind, whether she was right or wrong, duplicitous or foolish. I felt nothing about her behaviour or the things she said, not one way or the other, not emotionally or intellectually. A great big non-in
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 for MI5 and her life after the war never advanced in
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
It was fine, but I never really connected with Juliet. She was naive and a bit stupid and uninteresting because of it.
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Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,
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“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism... Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.” 4 likes
“Choice, it seemed, was one of the first casualties of war.” 3 likes
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