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‚Transcription‘ (2018)
by Kate Atkinson

Sandra, Maria, Thomas and Andrew discuss Kate Atkinson’s 2018 novel ‚Transcription‘.

In 1940, 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of MI5 espionage. She is tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers. 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 background, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bit of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence….

We discuss the historical context of the novel, the twists and turns of the plot, the extraordinary characters involved, and the ironic humour.
Is the novel a straight spy story or perhaps a pastiche of the genre?

Music played:

  • openings of Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony (the ‚Leningrad‘)
  • Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto
  • an orchestrated version of Anton Karas’s theme tune for ‚The Third Man‘.