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Transcription

Narrated by: Fenella Woolgar
Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,036 ratings)
Regular price: £21.99
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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Transcription by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar.

The magnificent new novel by best-selling award-winning Kate Atkinson.

‘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, 18-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 sympathisers, 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 for ever. 

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 realise 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.

©2018 Kate Atkinson (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

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Full Marks Kate

I hugely enjoyed this book, my first by Kate Atkinson and the narration by Fenella Woolgar was impeccable. I finished it in two and a half days and am now going to re-listen at a more leisurely pace to enjoy it more thoroughly. It is set in a period of time I can just about remember and mainly in that part of the West End with which I am most familiar - it always makes it more interesting, I find, when you can picture the locations. But I love Kate Atkinson's dialogue, construction and characterisation. I really related to Juliet Armstrong in her various guises and enjoyed her humorous asides. The author's note at the end was very interesting. I'm not nitpicking (especially after hearing Kate's note) but I'm sure Juliet was short-changed when she tendered three half-crowns for a five shilling office whip round - but I may have misheard.

29 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Masterful

Kate Atkinson is one of our best writers. This story is a serious one but I found myself laughing out loud at some of the sections due to the author's incredible talent for mixing drama with comic dialogue. A truly marvellous read - I cant recommend it highly enough. With so much dross on offer its such a delight.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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outstanding

I don't know why I picked this book, it's nothing at all alike to anything I would normally choose, but it was outstanding in both story and performance which had me enthralled to the end.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely wonderful

From the perfect clipped 1940s narration to the twist at the end of the novel, this story was an absolute joy.
I am a fan of the author and think this is her best novel to date. I was completely transported from the first chapter . Highly recommended

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Another masterful novel

Kate Atkinson seldom fails to delight the reader (we can forgive her Emotionally Weird). Her writing is smooth yet complex and underpinned by an almost forensic interest in historical fact and littered with references to her predecessors, the great writers in the English language.

This is a must for readers who, like me, have a lasting admiration for the role and extreme bravery of the young women in the 1940s whose contribution to the war effort is too often understated.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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What a tangled web...neatly unravelled at the end

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. A good mixture of fact and fiction with each supporting the other brilliantly.
The reader was superb and could not be bettered.
All in all, a very enjoyable audiobook ...my first by Kate Atkinson, and am looking forward to trying more by her.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Try it!

Really enjoyed this very original book, such a dry humour running through it, I laughed out loud many times.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Something of a let-down

I've read most of Kate Atkinson's novels. I thought Life After Life and A God in Ruins showed her really coming into her own as a writer and I had high hopes for Transcription. Yet again she plays a trick on us: just as Teddy was snatched from us in A God In Ruins, not all is what it seems in Transcription. While the final revelation about Teddy had me weeping, the about-turn in Transcription was a much more mundane 'Oh — really?' moment.

The fact that it seems such a difficult book to review may give a clue to the inherent problems. There didn't seem to be a lot of substance — and the things we thought we knew, and the characters we thought we had a grip on, turned out to be a mirage.

I wondered fleetingly whether Atkinson was quietly critiquing the spy novel genre. There's a banality and a dullness to both the spies and those spied-upon that upends all the derring-do and drama of so many WW2 spy narratives. It's well-researched, there's a lot of period detail, but there were also a number of characters, particularly the men, who seemed to be standard issue grey suits and were at times difficult to differentiate. The characters who made the most impact were the grotesques — the informers and the bit parts.

Difficult to say why it felt so unsatisfactory. I don't know that the lesson of the book — that choices come back to haunt you — is enough to hang the whole edifice on. I didn't take to Juliet and her very literal, pun-based humour and what seemed at times wilful blindness to / ignorance of what was happening around her. I felt played when it turned out that all was not as it seemed, while simultaneous acknowledging that this could be read as a reflexive nod towards the nature of espionage. Towards the end the novel lost the plot. What had been a story grounded in everyday detail suddenly slipped into traditional spy territory: the pursuit through fog, the sound of a cane being tapped menacingly on the pavement, an attack out of nowhere.

A God in Ruins was always going to be a hard act to follow. Every author has their highs and lows. If this is a low as Atkinson goes, it's not so bad.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Things are Seldom What They Seem

Kate Atkinson brings us into the foggy world of WW2 espionage, in this fast-paced, funny and poignant novel.

Juliet Armstrong is recruited to join a Secret Service team monitoring a group of Nazi sympathizers. It's mainly mundane work of listening to and transcribing discussions. However, then Julia is asked to take part in infiltration work...anything else I might write would be classified as a spoiler!

This is a supremely enjoyable novel, which plays with perceptions and expectations - it is deftly comic and gull of surprise.

Fenella Woolgar is just the perfect narrator

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully written

I have high expectations of Kate Atkinson and this book didn't disappoint. It has all her trademarks - well rounded characters, complex plot and believable dialogue. It's evocative of London and it's time and has a whole world between it's covers.

It also has a lighter tone for the protagonist than many of her other books. The main character is good at puns and plays certain verbal games with herself which is both endearing and slightly annoying, as it would be in real life.

I found the end a little confusing and had to listen to it twice - but I'm off sick and may simply have not been listening carefully enough.

in short - this is another excellent Atkinson, perhaps not her very best, but definitely an author at the top of their game

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andreea
  • 20-01-19

Completely taken by surprise by this one

Well, most surely I did not expect to like this book this much! Although it can be described as an espionage novel (While/Post WW2 espionage - Cold War), it is so much more. With wonderful writing, humorous at times, this book addresses many important topics, some of them very close to my heart. I found it a complete joy to listen to. And I intend to listen to it again. And the performance... yes! After this, it has become clear to me that I prefer British narrators, the performance is always exquisite! Almost all my favourite audiobooks I've purchased on Audible have been narrated by British voices. So, so, so good!

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  • Lee Ruthenberg
  • 08-10-18

Understated and excellent.

Kate Atkinson's authors note at the end of Transcription, is perhaps the best review of this excellent book. The author is so fondly interested in niche aspects of history and her writing touch so light that it is a delight to accompany Juliet on her journeys. It is part historical fiction, part spy novel and part character drama. Had Jane Austen lived through the 20th Century perhaps Juliet could have been her character, the internal discourse and commentary on a new and strange gentry - MI5 and the BBC.
Brilliantly read, no mean feat dealing with Atkinson's character's continual internal musings, dialogue and time shifts.
What a thorough pleasure.

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  • Robin
  • 17-10-18

Terrible ending

This novel left a bad taste in my mouth. It was pretty good until the last chapter, when the story changed completely with a twist that was really a cheat. Kate Atkinson is a good writer but this novel pulled a cheap trick that really she should have passed over.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful