The Undertaking, the first novel from Irish journalist Audrey Magee explores guilt and complicity and a marriage of convenience during the Second World War.
When she was 21, journalist Audrey visited Dachau in Germany where she met an old woman who had lived beside the infamous concentration camp during the Second World war. The encounter - and the woman's complete ignorance of what happened there - left a lasting impression.
Years after that meeting in Dachau, a German man told Audrey the story of his marriage of convenience to escape the Eastern Front. That encounter took place casually in a late night restaurant in `a remote corner of Ireland’ and inspired the globe-trotting reporter to write her first novel, The Undertaking. The book is published this week by Atlantic Books and has been praised in advance by fellow writers Fergal Keane, Colm Tóibín and Hugo Hamilton.
In The Undertaking, an ordinary German soldier Peter Faber is desperate to escape the Eastern front. He weds Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met, in 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, but their marriage is not without its challenges.