From a remarkable new talent in Irish fiction comes a terrifyingly intimate story of a war marriage caught up in the calamity of World War II, a much anticipated debut which has garnered prepublication praise from Colm Toibin, Hugo Hamilton, A.D. Miller, and Chris Cleave.
In a desperate bid to escape the trenches of the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries 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 in the war. With 10 days' leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin and both are surprised by the passion 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 Nazi high society, wedding herself, her young husband, and her unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina find their simple dream of family cast in tragic light and increasingly hard to hold on to.
Reminiscent of Bernard Schlink's The Reader, this is an unforgettable novel of marriage, ambition, and the brutality of war, which heralds the arrival of a breathtaking new voice in international fiction.
©2014 Audrey Magee. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.
If you have a interest in historical fiction, particularly from the era of WWII, then this book is for you. The author tells the story from the very different points of view of the two main characters. Peter, a German infantryman on the Eastern front and Katharina, his mail-order bride living at home with her parents in Berlin. He marries for a honeymoon leave; she for a chance at a widow's pension. Ms Magee does a excellent job of showing how the tide of the war, as it goes from victories to defeat, affects the home front as well as the soldier on the battlefield. She makes it believable that their relationship, based on a 10 day leave, is what sustains them as their worlds fall apart.
I know that some have commented on the abruptness of the ending but I thought that was in keeping with the story. Life is seldom "happy-ever-after."
The narrator, Suzanne Toren, did a excellent job
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