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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Transcriptionist: A Novel

I was intrigued by the premise of Amy Rowland's The Transcriptionist, so I let myself become incredibly engrossed over the weekend.

Lena has been a transcriptionist for the Record for four years. She lives in other people's words, taking them in and putting them in writing. When she hears that a blind woman has been eaten to death, suicide by lion, she is unequivocally affected, unable to concentrate on anything else. She met the woman just days before her death on a bus on the way home. What was the truth of this woman's world, one that drove her to commit that final act? Lena steps out on a journey to discover the why of that choice that will ultimately lead her to seek out truth in every area of her life.

This book was hauntingly lovely. It is a story about a woman who wants the truth and needs to take action. She is haunted by the death of this woman who affected her profoundly in just a few short minutes, and it causes her to step out of her comfort zone to seek a way to be more human. It's hard not to relate to that desire. Lena lives a stilted life on a schedule with very little veering off course. She even gets the Gramercy Park key returned within the hour time limit as to avoid her building's matriarch's harsh words at her lack of timeliness. Everything has a place and a place for everything.

The story had a beautiful flow to it and was surprisingly tight. This could have easily wandered off in meandering directions, but Rowland has a strong understanding of how to keep the story moving and of how to weave a tale so that it tells you everything you need to know, lays out all of Lena for the reader to see, and opens up the raw vein of hope in just enough words to get it right. Lena isn't going crazy in the traditional sense; she is only trying to get a grasp of what it means to be human rather than a robot.

Hard copy below.

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