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review 2018-11-16 00:40
DNF
Transcription: A Novel - Kate Atkinson

Sorry, I just can't. I'm on page 160 which is the halfway mark & can honestly say I don't care if the protagonist lives or dies. Such a disappointment as I've enjoyed other books by this author & heard such rave reviews about this one.

 

But the glacial pace, plethora of stiff-upper-lip characters & over use of internal comments in parentheses (meant as comic relief ?) are slowly making me lose the will to live. It's probably just a case of mismatch between reader & book. I'm not enjoying it & have so many other books I want to read so I think I'll just leave this here. Might pick it back up if I have trouble falling asleep tonight.

 

                                            

 

 

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review 2018-10-21 20:06
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Transcription: A Novel - Kate Atkinson

A special thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 she is enlisted to transcribe the conversations that take place in a bugged flat between Godfrey Toby, an MI5 agent, and a group of suspected fascist sympathizers.  At first the work seems dull, but then it becomes terrifying as Juliet is thrust into a world of secrets and code.  After the war ends, she thinks that her service is over that the event she transcribed are left in the past.

 

Fast forward ten years and Juliet is now a radio producer with the BBC.  Even though her past seems like a lifetime ago and Juliet has resigned herself to her more mundane life and work, she is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past.  Haunted by these relationships and her actions, Juliet cannot escape from the repercussions of her work.  Left with no choice, she is pulled back into a life of espionage.  

 

Atkinson is such a gifted writer.  I had the privilege of attending an event where she spoke at length about her research and writing process for Transcription.  Her writing is rare in that she brings humour to her narrative in such a subtle way.  Much of this is accomplished through Juliet trying to make sense of what she is listening to as well as through her naiveté.  Juliet is Atkinson's vehicle to make the events fictional.  She is "the girl".  Atkinson has described her as being "a smart character, but with an incredibly active imagination".  

 

In typical Atkinson fashion, the reader is treated to shifts in time and plot (things don't unfold sequentially).  You can certainly tell that she has done her research, the story that emerges is nothing short of original and extraordinary, and I encourage you to read the author's notes.  Transcription is a layered work of deception and consequences and a thrilling literary read.  

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review 2017-10-17 20:28
Life after LIfe
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

I have feelings about this book. Predominantly annoyance, because I really did not get this book and the message it tried to convey. I didn´t care about the theme of reincarnation or the philosophical musings that time is like a palimpsest, the only thing I did care about was the end after 600 excruciating pages. My first complaint is that this novel is too long and it could easily have been cut by 200 – 300 pages.

 

As I have said, I don´t get this book. Ursula doesn´t become a better person towards the end of the novel (as a matter of fact she doesn´t know that she is reliving her life, she only has something like a déjà-vu all the time). And the first chapter, in which Ursula shoots Hitler, is a huge led down. I´m honestly not sure what that has been all about. Call me stupid, but I´m not clever enough for this book. Or I simply shut down my brain on page 400, simply because I couldn´t care less for this story.

 

This novel is so bleak and depressing, every new life of Ursula´s was downright horrible. In some of these storylines I was eagerly anticipating for Ursula to kick the bucket. There were two lives in particular I immensely disliked:

 

  • Ursula getting raped, which leads to pregnancy and an abortion, nearly dying of an infection and ultimately being married to an abusive husband, who kills her with an ashtray.
  • Ursula being married to a German, who of course becomes something in huge in the party, which leads to her staying with Hitler in the Alps.
(spoiler show)

 

Even if this book is well-written and an engaging and immersive read, the plot is sentimental and preposterous drivel. Not my kind of book.

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text 2017-10-16 21:11
Reading progress update: I've read 311 out of 609 pages.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Regardless how many times Ursula is able to live her life over again, one fact remains about all of her lifes: they suck. Good grief, this book is bleak.

 

Still not sure what to make of this book. So far the story has been rather pointless, I´m not particularly fond of the characters and the structure of the book feels gimmicky.

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text 2017-10-15 21:18
Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 609 pages.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson just spent a couple of pages, describing how the main characters mother secretly lusts for the farmer with the blue eyes. Since this is a book about Ursula, living her life over and over again, I wonder if that information has any relevance in the upcoming chapters.

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