The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

Peter is at the Russian front of Germany’s war, fighting for Hitler. He is desperate for leave, for something to fight for, so he chooses a woman from a group of photographs and heads to Berlin to marry her. Katharina offers him leave and Peter offers her a soldier’s pension should the almost inevitable take place. This is the undertaking.

It is a brilliant premise for a novel. Even if the two like each other, as Katharina and Peter do, how will war affect their transaction? Can two people who barely know each other create a real marriage from a few days’ leave and letters? The novel follows their attempts looking at life as a woman in Berlin and life at the front in Russia. Both lives are fascinating and compromising and ultimately survival manipulates and challenges politics.

Again, the plot reads like a moving and thought-provoking novel and The Undertaking does breathe the painful monotony of war into Peter and Katharina’s lives, but somehow, something falls short. Perhaps it is the weight of expectation I brought to the novel. It came highly recommended and the premise was enough to entice all kinds of imaginings. The end, however, just seems to underwrite all the salacious and illicit intrigue the plotline first initiated. In some ways this must be intentional. This isn’t tabloid history. These are lifelike characters acting in a kind of calculated desperation and sometimes true-to-life storylines don’t follow pantomime emotions. Normally I admire and seek the stark but I’m not sure about where this novel goes and what it is meant to leave the reader feeling. I hoped for more. I understood where Katharina ended, but not Peter, almost as if the novel rushed to a close.

The Undertaking is an interesting read, well written and pleasing in that it takes German perspectives on the Second World War. This is a good book many will, and have already, loved, but it doesn’t quite do it for me.

Next week I’ll be reading Descent by Ken MacLeod followed by My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and then Seiobo There Below by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. Keep the comments and suggestions coming.

41 thoughts on “The Undertaking by Audrey Magee”

  1. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve truly loved surfing around your
    blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I am hoping you write once
    more soon!

  2. hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up something new from right
    here. I did however expertise a few technical issues
    using this website, as I experienced to reload the web site a lot
    of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering
    if your web hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading
    instances times will very frequently affect your
    placement in google and can damage your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.

    Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your
    respective exciting content. Make sure you update this again very soon.

  3. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe
    guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My blog covers
    a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we
    could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to send me
    an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

  4. Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing the other person’s weblog link on your
    page at suitable place and other person will also do similar for

  5. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wished to say that I’ve really loved browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more very soon!

  6. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am inspired!
    Extremely helpful information specially the closing section :
    ) I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a
    very lengthy time. Thanks and good luck.

  7. Good way of describing, and fastidious post to take information about my presentation topic, which i am
    going to deliver in university.

  8. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again right here regularly.
    I’m quite certain I will learn a lot of new stuff proper here!

    Good luck for the next!

  9. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

  10. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting
    with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Thanks!

  11. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
    Extremely useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for
    such information much. I was seeking this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  12. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before
    but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be
    bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  13. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website.
    I’m hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well.

    In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to
    get my own website now 😉

  14. I don’t even understand how I finished up here, but I thought this submit was once good.
    I don’t understand who you might be however definitely you are going to a famous blogger
    in the event you are not already. Cheers!

  15. Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my web site thus i got here
    to return the choose?.I’m attempting to in finding things to improve my web
    site!I suppose its good enough to use some of your ideas!!

  16. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

  17. You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something
    that I think I’d never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely extensive for me.

    I’m looking ahead to your next put up, I will attempt to get the
    dangle of it!

  18. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll certainly return.

  19. I like the valuable information you provide for your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check once more here regularly.
    I am relatively certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  20. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you
    create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.