Martin's Must-Reads: 'Transcription'

Feb 12, 2019

“They were to be in the Nelson House," Perry said. "He would live and work in one flat - Juliet would work there too - while in the next store flat an MI5 officer, Godfrey Toby, would masquerade as a Nazi agent and encourage people with pro-Fascist sympathies to report to him. It they’re telling Godfrey their secrets," Perry said, "then they are not telling the Germans.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a quote from Kate Atkinson’s newest historical novel Transcription.

The story begins in Britain in 1940, when 19 year old Juliet Armstrong agrees to work for MI5 after her mother dies and she can no longer afford to attend the private school where she was enrolled. She is sent to an obscure department where she sits in a hotel room and transcribes conversations that are being recorded in the next room. The conversations are between an MI5 agent and British Nazi sympathizers. Eventually Juliet is given a new assignment to take on a different identity and visit a Nazi sympathizer’s home.

Chapters of the book alternate between 1940 and 1950 . In 1950,  she assumes her spy days are over and goes to work for the BBC writing, producing and recording historical and  informative programs for children. Suddenly she is confronted by figures from her past and an anonymous note that says she will pay for her wrongdoing.

Transcription is on the list of 2018’s best historical fiction titles and is similar  to one of last month’s reviewed titles The Alice Network.

If you like reading novels based on little known historical facts, you must read Transcription by Kate Atkinson.