Archive for the ‘London 1950’ Tag

Never-ending espionage   Leave a comment

Kate Atkinson’s Transcription blends humor, to be more specific it’s dry British wit, with espionage in 1940s London.

Juliet Armstrong is recruited by M15 to transcribe the recordings of conversations among British fascist sympathizers. Juliet is an unlikely candidate for such a role. She’s only 18-years-old, naïve and completely unprepared for the job, which she discovers is a learn-as-you-go experience.

Her role soon evolves from a transcriber to that of a spy – again something for which she has neither experience nor aptitude. She is somewhat successful, however, in inserting herself among the fascists; although she faces a number of close calls and near misses of having her true identify revealed.

Ten years later, Juliet is surprised to be approached by M15 again, long after she was certain her connection with the organization was over. Though older, she retains much of her naiveté and is again thrust into dealing with espionage related to a more subtle war.

Atkinson’s characters are easy to visualize. Their proper British mannerisms and decorum, even when dealing with undercover activities, is amusing. Some conversations and situations take on a near slap-stick style, resulting in some laugh-out-loud moments. Fortunately, it’s far more subtle than pie-in-the-face action.

An element of pathos exists in Juliet’s personality based on her inability to initially recognize the control M15 has on her life.

Transcription

Four Bookmarks

Back Bay Books, 2018

339 pages, including Author’s notes and sources