Friday, May 10, 2019


Title:  Transcription
Author:  Kate Atkinson
Publication Information:  Little, Brown, and Company. 2018. 352 pages.
ISBN:  031617663X / 978-0316176637

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Miss Armstrong?"

Favorite Quote:  "Choice, it seemed, was one of the first casualties of war."

Kate Atkinson's Life After Life was an intriguing take on a tale of reincarnation. It was a fascinating but long story. Just a bit too long for my taste. I found the book starting to drag and really slow down in the middle. I am glad I persevered to the end, but it was difficult at times.

This book is a completely different story. This is a story of World War II and espionage and of its ramifications years later. My reaction, however, is somewhat the same. It is a story with potential, but it goes on too long for my taste. In this case though, the book starts off really, really slow.

It introduces a main character, Juliet Armstrong, with her impending death. It is 1981, and she has been hit by a car. The book then goes back and wanders back and forth between 1950s and the 1940s. During the war, Juliet is recruited into the war effort and then pulled into espionage. After the war, she works for BBC and wonders if her past will stay in the past.

Unfortunately, Juliet Armstrong is a somewhat lackluster character. Perhaps, the nondescript setup is deliberate and part of the story. Perhaps, it's incidental. Either way, it becomes difficult to connect to the character which in turn makes it difficult to continue reading which in turns makes it a challenge to care about the ending. Her motivations are not revealed until the end, and sadly, by then, it is too late in the story to try and understand.

The book, from the beginning, introduces a lot of other characters, and I am not sure which ones will be important later and which ones I should remember. The book then also jumps in time and place, making it more difficult to keep the characters straight or invest in any of the side stories.

Unfortunately, I find myself without a connection to any of the characters or the story itself, making it a really challenging read. I persevere, but it is a challenge. This book theoretically builds to its twist and the big reveal.

For me, a twist in a book works if it finds a fine balance. On the one hand, it should be a surprise. On the other hand, once it arrives, I want that feeling that the clues were there all along. I should have seen it coming if I had read things the right way. If the twist is not a surprise, then it's not really a twist. If it is completely out of the blue, then it loses credibility and is not believable. It leaves me wondering where that came from. In this book, unfortunately, that is what happens. I am left wondering why I read a lengthy story only for it to go somewhere completed unexpected. What was the point of the build up?

Perhaps, after two books, I might say that the descriptions of Ms. Atkinson's books sound like stories I would enjoy. However, sadly, I don't think I am the reader for the works I have read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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