When I read a book a day, I never imagined not wanting to read. Most of my life revolved around stories professionally and personally but when my own story became the drama, it’s plot was too complicated to let any other in. Needless to say, I won’t reveal the personal – those who know me already have it – but my unexpected separation from bibliotherapy taught me to savor moments of inspiration and not take them for granted.
Kate Atkinson’s Transcription survived the purge of my bookshelves with two boxes of notable reads sent to the library annual booksale. I uncovered its red cover under the dust jacket and it followed me until I gave in and opened to the first pages. Many of you have already read this complicated spy novel with a twist I almost missed at the end, and Atkinson has already produced another book published last month. But if you haven’t read Transcription, its story holds enough historical information to tease you into wondering what is indeed fact, as well as Atkinson’s trademark knack for plot twists to keep you reading between the lines of the characters’ lives in this tale of espionage and treachery.
Juliet Armstrong flashes back to her life as a secretary secretly transcribing conversations for the British spy organization MI5. Jonathan Dee neatly summarized the novel in his 2018 review for The New Yorker with enough detail to satisfy your curiosity if you are still deciding if you want to read the book – Kate Atkinson’s Spy Novel Makes the Genre New.
The Author’s Note at the end of the book led me to more books. Penelope Fitzgerald’s Human Voices is listed as one of Atkinson’s references. Firzgerald’s 1980’s novel tells “the fictionalised experiences of a group of BBC employees at Broadcasting House, London, in 1940 when the city was under nightly attack from the Luftwaffe’s high explosive, incendiary, and parachute bombs.” I became a fan of Fitzgerald after reading The Bookshop.
Atkinson’s newest publication revives her detective series with Jackson Brodie as the star Cambridge detective. Of course, I need to backtrack to the first book – Case Histories – and maybe proceed to the other four before my library waitlist number for her latest, Big Sky, comes up.
So I have books to anticipate, and more. A friend sent me hardback copies of the newest Elin Hildebrand and Jennifer Weiner books; my stack is growing again.
What have you read lately?