Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: There are a plethora of fiction titles that are written about World War II and after a while all the books seem formulaic. I wanted to learn more of the inner workings of those who worked for spy agencies during the war so when I read the description of Kate Atkinson's latest Transciption I had high hopes considering I enjoyed her other title, Life after Life.
  Transcription is thriller-esque historical fiction that plunges the reader into the complex world of espisonage and the aftermath of World War II. The narrative jumps between two different timelines during the war and the current in which Juliet works for the BBC developing a children show in the 1980s. When she is given a death threat, we retrace her steps in the past and their consequences.
 At the tender age of 18 Juliet Armstrong is 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, creating multiple identities and forging relationships that impact her life.
  It was fascinating watching Juliet make her way through the complex web of spying. She is very young and naive at the beginning but she soon realizes that she isn't playing a game but with people's actual lives. There are actual transcriptions in the book in which we over hear the British Fascists who think they’re passing secrets to the Third Reich but are actually giving them to an English spy; their crimes are both deadly serious, unfathomable yet funny at a dark level. There is intrigue in the book and even surprises that I didn't see coming and some I still yet to comprehend of the actions taken, but I think that is realistic given the extreme situation of war. With all of this in mind, readers who think this is a fast paced thriller will be disappointed. The plot moves at a leisurely pace, but it much more atmospheric and character driven that your standard thriller. I appreciate that the novel doesn't just end when the war concludes, but it shows its impact on those involved in it from fellow spies to war veterans who are dealing with PSTD. As one character states the line between nationalism and fascism is very thin, which unfortunately sounds very timely given our current political climate. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, allusions to sexual situations, Anti-Semitic comments, and war violence in the book. Recommended to mature teens interested in World War II and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, Trapeze by Simon Mawer
3 Responses
  1. Kindlemom Says:

    This is one of my favorite timelines to read about so I definitely think this is one I would enjoy as well. Wonderful review!

  2. I have only read one Kate Atkinson book and didn't love it, but this one sounds intriguing.

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Thanks for the heads up about it now being a fast paced thriller. I probably would have been one of those expecting it to be. ;) Wonderful review!

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