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The Undertaking - Audrey Magee

(5 Posts)
actiongirl1978 Sat 08-Feb-14 16:25:14

I have just read this, it came out this week. It is absolutely one of the best things I have ever read.

I should say I am not the author though I do know her (one of the mums at school!) but the novel is fantastic. The author is Irish and was a journalist for The Times and Irish Times for many years so has a great writing pedigree.

This is the review I have just posted on Amazon - I hope it was ok to cut and paste and save me re-writing. (MNHQ, I apologise if this is not allowed, I will check back in case anyone complains and will ask for the post to be removed if need be. I am a long time poster and lurker and haven't joined up just to post about this I promise!)

'This book takes the reader between wartime Berlin and the Russian front and moves across a decade from beginning to end. The story follows Peter and Katharina who are married for the sake of a fortnights leave and a widows pension. They fall in love and then do not see each other until the war is well ended. In the intervening years both are subject to awful political and human decision making. Peter endures a hellish war slowly tortured by the conditions he has to endure. Katharina lives a favoured life in Berlin bringing up their child, however the favours come at great cost to her family. Both want to survive the war to be with each other again and this thought sustains them. However circumstances intervene when the Russians take Berlin at the end of the war and Peter and Katharina's love may not be enough.

The author describes absolutely horrific conditions with no apologies and the reader is left aghast at the physical deprivation and seeming lack of any control over individual circumstance. This book is as succinct as is possible, not a word is wasted and every line of dialogue is critical. This is an amazing first novel.'

I take a lot of reviews from these boards to inform my Kindle buying habits and so I hope that this helps someone else discover a great read!

thepurgingmary Sat 22-Mar-14 21:32:42

I would second this recommendation. I know a member of the authors family and tbh I bought it out of courtesy and wasn't in a rush to read it. I knew nothing about it and it languished on my kindle for weeks (months?) but one night I was stuck and thought I'd just try it . . .


I loved it! I googled it and found a great review in the guardian (phew, taste validated) and started recommending it to people before I'd even finished it.

I have now finished it and really enjoyed it. It is pretty unflinching but excellent and stays with you on completion. I finished it mid-week and am only now looking for a new read - I couldn't have leapt into something else any quicker. And that's the mark of a cracking book, no?

It would be a great mumsnet book club read. I am told the author has started her next book, writing between school runs. Respect!

Samu2 Mon 24-Mar-14 18:25:38

Just started this and love it so far. Thank you.

GeorginaWorsley Mon 24-Mar-14 22:10:18

Have it on my kindle ready fir Easter holiday .
Sounds fantastic.

actiongirl1978 Thu 10-Apr-14 21:19:33

Yes the author is working on her second book between school runs, I can't wait to read it!

I love that every word worked the story, nothing was wasted. Spread the word (and I hope that Audrey wins the Bailey that she is shortlisted for).

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