Review: Transcription, by Kate Atkinson

Having just read a couple of non-fiction books about the British people who worked for a German victory in the Second World War, I thought it was time to read a work of fiction on the same subject.

In Kate Atkinson’s novel, Juliet Armstrong, an 18 year old woman is recruited to MI5 to participate in an intelligence gathering operation targetting British fascists.

She sits in a flat next door to one in which a British agent posing as a Gestapo officer carries out clandestine meetings with people who are keen to be of service to the Third Reich.

The flat is bugged and Juliet’s job is to transcribe the conversations that take place there.

She is also given another, related task which brings her into contact with other wannabe Quislings.

The book moves back and forth between 1940 and the years after the war, when Juliet works for the BBC.

There are secrets and twists galore, but one’s enjoyment of the book will depend entirely on whether one enjoys Juliet’s company.

I find her to be a most enjoyable character, though I felt let down by the ending, which did feel somewhat rushed.

Nevertheless, an excellent story, highly recommended.