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.
Review by Ben Hunter
In a pacy and perilous escapade, eighteen-year-old Juliet Amstrong begins work in wartime London as an MI5 transcriber notating endless recorded conversations of fascist sympathisers and would-be spies. Ten years later, the threats of those war years re-emerge in new and frightening ways.
Atkinson, the award-winning creator of Life After Life and God in Ruins weaves a incredibly taut and wittily-told sequence of events that plunges the reader into the the depths of an ethically murky questioning of truth, justice and the war for knowledge. There’s much depth and empathy to be found in this addictive novel.
"No other contemporary novelist has such supreme mastery of that sweet spot between high and low, literary and compulsively readable as Kate Atkinson. I look forward to a new Atkinson book like I look forward to Christmas...what lends the novel enchantment is that patented Atkinson double whammy: gravity and levity. Tragedy and comedy as so skilfully entwined that you find yourself snorting with mirth...brimming with dark wit that reminds you how deeply satisfying good fiction can be." -- Allison Pearson * Sunday Telegraph *
"Transcription stands alongside its immediate predecessors as a fine example of Kate Atkinson's mature work, an unapologetic novel of ideas which is also wise, funny and paced like a thriller." -- Stephanie Merritt * Observer *
"Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer. I want to write like her when I grow up. Transcription shows she's at the peak of her powers. Full of beautiful, delicate, sharp sentences and characterisations. A spy novel that dismantles the whole genre. A class act, as ever." -- Matt Haig
"Superb...Transcription is the sort of book that reminds you how profound and satisfying and moving and exhilarating good fiction can be. It's the best novel I've read all year. I can't praise it enough." * Irish Times *
"Never loses its sense of absurdity of human beings even in their most tragic or noble moments...How vehemently most novelists will wish to produce a masterpiece as good." -- Jake Kerridge * Daily Telegraph *
"On a graph plotting the literary qualities versus saleability of contemporary British novelists, Kate Atkinson would surely occupy the highest point where the two meet...There are plenty of twists and turns in this terrific page-turner, some shocking moments, and a narrator whom the author encourages us to love." -- Claire Harman * Evening Standard *
"Atkinson handles her mazy, Le Carre-style plot with complete authority. But there's a lot more to the novel than its page-turning thrills. The increasingly sceptical Juliet makes for a very appealing heroine and the darker material is interspersed with some neat comedy. Above all, Atkinson recreates the atmosphere of both wartime and post-war London with utter conviction." -- James Walton * Reader's Digest *
"[A] superb story of wartime espionage...Hilary Mantel once said of Atkinson's ground-breaking first novel that she had a "game-plan more sophisticated than Dickens", and that skill is more than evident in this latest offering...remarkable...Transcription is a fine course in the art of deception. The sheer bravura of Atkinson's storytelling is such that you will find it impossible not to want to revisit those clues so cleverly placed, as you shake your head in disbelief at how effortlessly you have been taken in." -- Gerri Kimber * Times Literary Supplement *
"A new Kate Atkinson novel is always a reason to rejoice and Transcription was everything I was hoping for and more...The truly surprising denouement makes for one of the best conclusions of a novel I've ever read.I immediately wanted to read it all over again." * Red *