Book - 2018
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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.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.,, 2018
Edition: First United States edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780316176637
Branch Call Number: FICTION Atkinson 2018
Characteristics: 343 pages ; 25 cm


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From the critics

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Jun 02, 2020

As a previous reviewer very cleverly noted, Kate Atkinson has certainly read her John LeCarré. Some character names are lifted straight out of his novels, as is the depiction of Toby/Hazeldine (his last scene is George Smiley if ever there was one). But the master of spy fiction does not write plot twists for twists' sake. If you write the whole novel from only one character's point of view, then pulling a twist ending out of the hat is simply cheating the reader. No, there are no clues to it no matter how many times you reread the earlier pages. The wartime sections make for a good historical description of a little known intelligence operation, no more that that. But the peacetime sections are just plainly boring.

Mar 02, 2020

Not what I expected but a very enjoyable read.

Jan 20, 2020

Adding my voice to the other readers who enjoyed Atkinson's approach to her young protagonist, who like one of the readers commented, eventually learned to trust no one. There's a definite value to reading the book rather than using the audio format; you'll likely need to refer back for the clues to understand the final few pages.

Definitely worth the read even for those of us that typically don't select historical novels.

Oct 31, 2019

WW II Britain

Aug 18, 2019

I have a question - did anyone notice the clues to the surprise ending?
I listened to the audiobook and completely missed them.
Is it worth reading it on the page to find the clues?

Aug 15, 2019

This was my introduction to the author, and I was impressed. I am not much of a historical fiction fan, but this novel might have changed my mind. I found the story interesting, and the protagonist was great, witty in introspection and in her interactions with others. As she learns about the spy game during WWII and shortly thereafter, so too, does the reader. Distinctly British in setting and place, I even liked looking up the odd phrases that turn up. We learn that the first rule of the spy game is to trust no one, and it is the motif of the entire plot line.
I understand that the author has a lot of books published, and I'm going to start looking for them.

seowen Jul 25, 2019

Set in World War II the main character Juliet's dry wit and humour is a draw as the clerical Juliet turns spy. This imaginative tale of historical fiction jumps from 1940 to 1950 showing the effects of one's past on one's present. In the last part of the book Juliet is forced to confront her reality and the effects of her spying in a way that disrupts the pacing and shocks the reader, the intended affect of the author I think. The ending was a shocker, their were no hints within the book of its conclusion.

Jul 22, 2019

Uneven in its delivery, TRANSCRIPTION is not one of my favorites by Kate Atkinson. Still, the author’s intelligence shines throughout, particularly as it pertains to her writing style, tone, and character development. What’s more, this historic fiction taught me a little about British espionage during WWII while it managed to keep me entertained with a final twist and turn I didn’t see coming.

Jun 21, 2019

The publisher is doubtless embarrassed.

Jun 17, 2019

It was interesting to read about WWII in London from a female perspective. I found the ending confusing - I didn't understand it. I also enjoyed Warlight by Michael Ondajtee.

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Jul 22, 2019

“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism... Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.”

ArapahoeAnnaL Dec 18, 2018

"She wished she could see her son one last time... Tell him that nothing mattered and that that was a freedom, not a burden." - last page of book


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Aug 09, 2019

Lots of readers have commented on this novel, so I'll try to be brief. I am not usually a fan of history novels, but MI5 in WWII captured my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed the action, the two time lines, the drama and intrigue. The first rule of spying is do not trust anyone, and this book is wrought with distrust, all the way to the end. But the best part of this novel is the witty, sardonic comments by the protagonist- "Reader I did not marry him" being just a singular example. This was my first Kate Atkinson exposure and I admire her writing style. It says a lot that her afterward was every bit as enjoyable as the novel itself. I plan to investigate her other works soon.


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