The Undertaking

The Undertaking

Book - 2014
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"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, and 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"
Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, ©2014.
Edition: First Canadian edition.
ISBN: 9781443422963
Characteristics: 287 pages ;,24 cm.


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Sep 20, 2016

Well paced, engrossing read but a very sad and unsettling story of the rise and fall of greed, ego and hardship.

Jul 20, 2016

Although this book is ostensibly about the relationship between two young Germans during WWII, they appear together only at the very beginning and very end of the story. So I think it is more about the wartime experiences of each one in very different settings: Leningrad and Berlin. As others have pointed out, the main point of the book are the moral and psychological pressures on people under extremely difficult circumstances. Very realistic, gritty depiction of ordinary people's lives under Nazism.

May 10, 2016

The novel explores the lives of two Germans from 1941 to 1953. Peter Faber marries Katharina Spinell on the battlefield to get a honeymoon leave from the Russian front in 1941. When he arrives in Berlin, he spends three weeks helping his new father-in-law and the mysterious Dr. Weinart with evening activities while getting to know his new wife. Shortly after returning to Russia, Peter learns that he will be a father. Written in strong, spare language, this novel follows Peter's harrowing journey as an infantry soldier on the eastern front and Katharina's journey from barely making ends meet to enjoy luxuries from the Nazi Party to barely making ends meet again. This is not the story for those who want a happy ending.

WVMLlibrarianCathy Feb 17, 2016

An engaging story of two young Germans set in WWII. If you liked All the Light We Cannot See, you will love this!

May 24, 2015

I always like a fast, easy read. This is one of those books. The main characters are interesting and engaging; other characters are not so well developed. This is a good look at the German ground soldiers heading to the Russian front, blindly following Berlin's orders.

Aug 06, 2014

The prose is very clear, crisp and spare - perfect for creating characters whose casual acceptance of the Nazi party line is quite disburbing. However the author's skill is such that she creates humanly believable characters - and I became completely absorbed in Peter & Katherina's journey.

Jul 20, 2014

Although initially sceptical about a book in which there are no gradations of right and wrong, I became convinced that this is a powerful story about Nazi greed and the everyday nature and pettiness of corruption. It tells alternating stories of a man fighting on the Russian front and his wife in Berlin, both of whom could be characterized by "moral blankness". Recommended.

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