Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Review: The Undertaking - Audrey Magee

Desperate to escape the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met; it is a marriage of convenience that promises 'honeymoon' leave for him and a pension for her should he die on the front. With ten days' leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin; both are surprised by the attraction that develops between them.

When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad. Back in Berlin, Katharina, goaded on by her desperate and delusional parents, ruthlessly works her way into the Nazi party hierarchy, wedding herself, her young husband and their unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina, ordinary people stained with their small share of an extraordinary guilt, find their simple dream of family increasingly hard to hold on to.
My thoughts:

This book felt realistic, I did not know what to expect after their first meeting when they fell in love. But after that things fell apart and real life began.

War is hell, people are animals. Rape, murder, senseless violence. It's not pretty, no country's soldiers are angels.

And with that I will begin. Katharina and Peter meet through a catalog. He gets to come back from the front, marry and have a honeymoon and making babies for the glorious empire. They do like each other and survive by thinking of each other. But, then life happens.

Peter is marching through a cold and bitter Russia. Hunger, the cold, lice and then Stalingrad. But he was indoctrinated before he left Berlin and it takes a long long time before he for a moment doubt that they are something else than canon fodder and why the hell they want Russia for.

Katharina is left in Berlin and she does have it better as her father helps someone with contacts. But she will have her own hell at the end. When hunger comes, when doubts emerges and when the Russians descend.

Conclusion:
It was a good book. It makes you feel cold and hungry and you will feel the lice crawling everywhere.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2014 by Atlantic Books
Fiction
For Review


46 comments:

  1. Wow....this sounds really good. A different perspective and I like it.

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    1. I liked it, they were all good and bad, I did not know who to root for

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  2. This sounds like a dark, intense read with war bearing down on them the way it is. Though I don't need a book to make me imagine a Russian winter, I kind of feel like we're having one of our own here in Ohio! Maybe not QUITE as cold as Russia, but still ;-)

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    1. There were some bloody cold winters during WWII. I would not have wanted to be them. There were this icky scene where one took of his shoes and socks and the toenails came with *shudders*

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  3. It sounds good and I like the cover.

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  4. I love that cover, and it sounds like it fits the book's style well.

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    1. That it does, and those poor horses *sniff*

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  5. I love the grit & finding a bride thru a catalog, very archaic but it fits the theme

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    1. They wanted their glorious babies I guess

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  6. Wow... I started reading the description and thought this is not something I would pick up, but they way you describe it I think it's a great story. I generally tend to stay away from war time stories, but seriously - wow.

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    1. It's great with fiction between everything else I read. I need the reality, grit, truth and just beauty of language

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  7. I'm not sure if this is my type of book or not but your description and review make me think I'd like it.

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  8. Soooooo not my kind of read. And the cover? ;)

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    1. Haha I knew you would ask. I published it fast at work and was in a hurry ;)

      But it fits

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  9. I have to take another bath. That last line! Now they are crawling all over me! Thanks B! :p LOL

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  10. This sounds good, and I love when it is realistic and you care about the characters.

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    1. And sometimes I sure did not care ;)

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  11. Haha, it will make you cold and hungry and feel the lice? Well, SOLD.

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    1. Haha, well yes, gods I hate lice. I got some tiny ones from my cat once and FREAKED OUT

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  12. You should not feel creepy crawly while reading a book lol

    This sounds so sad for them. I hope it worked out.

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    1. I always feel the creepy crawly, haha

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  13. Ugh lice... this sounds like a tough read, but I am still interested as I love history.

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    1. Life is though, gotta be read though

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  14. Eww lice! Well it doesn't sound like a comfortable read, but I'm definitely curious about it now. :-)

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    1. War is not meant to be comfortable ;)

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  15. sometimes it's even more difficult when it feels realistic mainly with murders and all

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    1. War is ugly, people are stupid :(

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  16. The cover has me curious. I always feel cold reading books about WWI or II.

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    1. I remember one I read and shivered through, the mud, cold, water, trenches

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  17. This sounds right up my alley, but really don't want to feel the lice lol.

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  18. Great review Linda, I will add this one to my wishlist.

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  19. I don't want to feel lice crawling everywhere but this sounds very good.

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    1. Haha, maybe that is just me, I have a vivid imagination

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  20. wow love how you described that, even if it was icky lol

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  21. This one sounds very interesting. It is nice to break away from fantasy and read some realistic fiction from time to time.

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    Replies
    1. I do need that, just as I need the non realistic stuff :)

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