I read this book a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it very much. I hadn’t read Atkinson before, but I think I’ll take a look at Behind the Scenes at the Museum soon.
Transcription is about a young woman who, like so many others in World War II in England, gets hired to do war work. For her it was transcribing the conversations of suspected spies who meet in a room that has been tapped for sound. She and others are in the adjoining apartment, and a real feature of the plot is the interesting interactions on the street of both sets of people, as well as the things they both know and guess about each other. The story gives a good perspective on the conditions in London during the war, and the many different things people stepped up to do for the “war effort.”
Juliet Armstrong, the protagonist, is a seemingly normal young woman for the time, trying different things and caught up by the flattery of others. Her own story – bought up by a single mother who has died at the beginning of this novel – adds to the background here. I never quite grasped who Juliet is as I read the book. She seemed rather ephemeral, and some of her actions didn’t quite add up. Even when I got to the very surprising end (no spoilers here!) she just didn’t quite make sense to me.
Even with that, the book is well worth reading, especially if you’re interested in England during World War II. I think if you like the TV series Foyle’s War, you’ll enjoy this novel.