Transcription- Kate Atkinson

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review



During the war Juliet Armstrong worked for MI5, just as a secretary though, now she works for the BBC, but something strange is happening, could someone be after Juliet? And what did she actually do during the war?


(You know what is an exciting this as a reviewer? When you get offered a book from an author whose work you previously loved.)

I make no secret of the fact that ‘Life After Life’ is one of my favourite ever books. This makes me sort of apprehensive about approaching a new book by Atkinson, but also super excited. When you loved a book by an author you are going to compare everything else by them to it, which can skew your view a bit. With ‘A God in Ruins’ I think this led to too high an expectation, so I tried to approach ‘Transcription’ as if it wasn’t by the same author (It didn’t really work…expect the comparisons!).

Juliet’s story jumps between her life during and shortly after the war. We start off with her life ‘now’ which I think was a good choice because otherwise we would think that it was just a story about a secretary- not exactly the most exciting premise for a novel!

It was the war side of the story which initially made me want to read the book however (we all know how I love a war story). In terms of being a war story it wasn’t exactly classic war literature. Most of Juliet’s job was transcribing conversations between an undercover agent and Nazi sympathisers in the UK. After some time Juliet’s life gets more exciting, but what really interested me, and kept me turning pages was that we didn’t seem to have the full story.

You see Juliet is being threatened, possibly followed, and we as the reader don’t know why, or even if the reason is legitimate. That means that everything you read you are trying to read more into. Did she do something awful that we haven’t yet found out about? Are there parts of her story that are more than they seem?

Whilst taking part (largely) during wartime I wouldn’t really say that ‘Transcription’ is a war story, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it.

It isn’t quite to the level of ‘Life After Life’, I am likely to suggest it to others, but I am unlikely to force it on anyone (even though it doesn’t contain a woman dying multiple times…according to my sister that’s a downer…who knew?). Having said that it did get pretty close, and it is one of those strange books that gets better the more you think about it.


‘Transcription’ is released tomorrow (6/9/18) but you can pre-order it now:

Hardback (£13.99)

Kindle (£9.99)

Paperback- released April ’19 (£7.91)


Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical

2 responses to “Transcription- Kate Atkinson

  1. Eileen

    Actually it’s not the multiple deaths as a plot device that is the downer in Life after Life. It is that Kate Atkinson is such an amazing writer that her descriptions of death were so real. I got as far as the time the lead dies of Spanish flu. She is in a hazy flu state but is aware of her brother Teddy dying and her mum sobbing (‘everybody loved Teddy’) and then her mum is not really present with her. ‘If only she could get one more breath…’. I can still quote it now. But I couldn’t carry on with it. Too Real!

    So I am glad to hear this one doesn’t have so much death(?) because Kate Atkinson is also my favourite author and I have been missing her since the Jackson Brodie series.


  2. I too loved Life After Life. I look forward to reading Transcription!


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