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The Train

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  401 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Against all expectations Marcel Ferón has made a “normal” life in a bucolic French suburb in the Ardennes. But on May 10, 1940, as Nazi tanks approach, this timid, happy man must abandon his home and confront the “Fate” that he has secretly awaited. Separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter in the chaos of flight, he joins a freight car of refugees hurtling south...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Melville House (first published 1961)
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After Midnight by Irmgard KeunFaithful Ruslan by Георгий ВладимовI Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLaneThe Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich RaspeThe Train by Georges Simenon
Neversink Library
5th out of 35 books — 23 voters
Animal Farm by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley JacksonMrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Great Short Novels
21st out of 59 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

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War breaks out on a beautiful spring day in Belgium. The Germans are coming! Feron, a radio repairman, and his seven and a half month pregnant wife grab their four year old daughter and join the queue to the local train station to try to outrun tragedy. They get separated on the train and when Feron realizes his wife and daughter have been sent on ahead of him he forms a relationship with a mysterious stranger. The relationship quickly becomes sexual. Oddly World War II is not the main focus of...more
We were running away. But as far as I was concerned, it wasn't from the Germans, from the bullets and bombs. from death...It was the hour of my meeting with Fate.

1940, Marcel Feron with his pregnant wife and daughter flee from their small French town, Fumay, in anticipation of the German invasion. Having boarded the train in different carriages, he eventually becomes separated from them when the carriages were unhitched along the way.

As the journey progresses without them, Marcel finds an unexpe...more
The Train was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Melville House Publishing.

2.5 stars

The Train is a poignant novel about Marcel Feron and his pregnant wife and young daughter living the “normal” life he had always hoped for in the French suburb Ardennes. On May 10, 1940 they woke up to find that the Nazi’s were coming and they were being forced into leaving behind all that they held dear. Marcel packs his family up and they get on the train meant to take them away from the danger. Throughout...more
It's a little strange for me to read a Simenon without tagging it as a mystery. Over the years, I have probably read about twenty of his works, most of them being Inspector Maigret novels, the rest his romans durs, or "hard novels." The Train falls into this latter category.

The so called "Phony War" between the Nazi invasion of Poland and the invasion of France and the Low Countries has come to an end. A family from Furay in the Ardennes Forest near the Belgian border, has packed up all their be...more
I received a free electronic copy of The Train, by Georges Simenon, translated from French by Robert Baldick. What an extraordinary, wonderful short novel.

This is the story of one man’s experience during the German invasion of France at the outset of World War II. The invasion is merely the backdrop for the physical and emotional journey of one man. Marcel Feron is leading an ordinary life with his own business, a child and a pregnant wife. The invasion of Belgium is at once anticipated and une...more
My old writing professors used to talk about about Simenon's beautiful clear prose (and the fact that his novels were short -- two reasons I vowed to read him in French someday), but somehow I had never got around to reading Simenon before now -- probably because he's best known for mysteries, and I don't usually read in that genre. Then I saw this Buzzfeed post, "32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life" (, and the description of this book -- the sto...more
Procyon Lotor
Per il riassunto cercate s.v.p. altrove. C'� un uomo che si lascia vivere, incredulo attende la guerra quasi affrettando l'ulteriore minaccia, lui che � gi� un sopravvissuto alle malattie. Lei, che � sopravvissuta invece grazie all'iniziativa, coerentemente la prende anche con lui. Vivranno in una bolla di sospensione delle responsabilit�...[continua] Aggiungessi altre tre o cinque righe ci sarebbe tutto il libro. Un Signore dei Thriller, con una scaletta cos� in mano incomincerebbe la cardatura...more
Andy Vale
I went into this not really knowing what to expect. I saw it on some Buzzfeed list months ago, added it to my wish list on Amazon and forgot all about it. But Santa remembered, and it was a surprise in my stocking on Christmas morning. Last night I sat down to read it and was hugely impressed with this little wartime novella.


What originally flicked the spark in my head or this book was that it dealt with an aspect of the war we (at least in the UK) don't hear a lot abou...more
This is the first book I read on my Kindle that I bought LAST AUGUST. I heard about this book via a Buzz Feed Book list titled "32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life." This novella was quite the page turner, as it chronicles a family in flight after Germany invaded France in 1940. The fear, lack of control and uncertainty of the time radiates from the main character, Marcel, the husband and father of the fleeing family. He experienced the family disruption that WW1 created, and in a way,...more
Elizabeth B
The Neversink Library is a wonderful attempt by the publishing house Melville House to find the best hidden gems in worldwide literature. The books in this imprint are the ones that should be classics but, usually due to geography, have oftentimes not found a very wide audience.

Coming in at a scant 160 pages, Georges Simenon's The Train reads much more like a short story than a novel. It doesn't contain all the twists and turns that you would expect in a novel and, instead, stays much more focu...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Believe it or not, I was a History major in undergrad, not English, although, given my love of literature, that might have been the obvious choice. I do also really enjoy reading about history, although I do it less, since so many academic historians write so dryly and reading their books is like pulling teeth. My favorite historical periods to study are World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, not the battles so much, but what life was like. I am a sucker for novels about these time perio...more
Mar 13, 2013 Frank rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Frank by: Benjamin Black & John Banville
I read this novella in a combined edition with The Premier in the first American edition (1966).

This very charming story is a middle-aged man's reminiscence of the few weeks after the German invasion of the Low Countries and France in the Spring of 1940 after more than six-months of the Phoney War. Leaving his home near the Belgian border with his four-year-old daughter and seven-months-pregnant wife, they take the first train south into an unknowable future. The women and children are put into...more
Lakis Fourouklas
Georges Simenon became famous for his crime novels, in which one of the most celebrated detectives of all times, Inspector Maigret was called upon to solve various mysteries time and again. The Train though is not a crime novel, but a kind of a love story that takes place during the Second World War.
The protagonist Marcel Féron lives with his family in a small provincial town when the invasion by the German Army begins, so with the war at their doorstep they, like it or not, have to flee to sa...more
Un romanzo con alcune pagine folgoranti.
Simenon, come un grande regista, punta i riflettori per illuminare con luce fortissima, che penetra anche negli angoli più riposti, uno squarcio di esistenza di Marcel, un uomo qualunque, né bello né brutto –anzi piuttosto bruttino, malaticcio per le conseguenze di una tubercolosi infantile, molto miope- sposato con una donna qualsiasi, con una vita mediocre nel suo negozietto, il suo giardino da curare e le galline. Un evento che per ognuno costituisce tr...more
Yes this short book is a mystery, its OK just an mystery, nothing ground-breaking or shatteringly suspenseful. What this book is really about is a woman who we know little about, and the main character Marcel Feron. Marcel is fairly regular guy, boring some would say, wife, kids, job. A timid puritan with a bit of a case of OCD. While separated from his family stuck in a cramped box care on train fleeing danger - he meets this woman he knows nothing about, and shortly after he forgets about his...more
Sarah Sammis
Georges Simenon was a Belgian born writer who had a prolific career. He's best known for his Commissaire Maigret series which spans 75 novels and 28 short stories. He also wrote many other stand alone pulp novels under a variety of pseudonyms.

As his Maigret series pretty much drowns out the other books, it's been difficult to find much information about The Train. I can tell you that it was first published in 1961 as Le Train and it was first translated into English in 1964. It has since been re...more
Nicki Markus
This is an intriguing piece that at times feels claustrophobic as we follow the journey of Marcel, a man trying to escape from the approaching Germans.

The style of the writing is rather internalised, drawing the reader into the world of the people in the train carriage. We see right into Marcel's thoughts from the very first sentence and we never leave his side for the rest of the novel.

The pacing was steady, but never plodding, and, while a number of major events do take place in the story, it...more
This was a quick read and drew me in from the start. I wish I knew my French geography better so I could have followed the journey of the train better. This book sort of made me sad to think that you could almost become a completely different person and leave an old life behind by stepping into an unknown future as a result of war. But the author did an excellent job of making me understand and almost empathize with narrator.
Tamsin Burford
A gripping but slow paced novel about a man fleeing the war with his family. Life becomes a series of stations in more ways than one. The protagonist changes over the course of the novel and becomes more fluid. He is a very organised character initially and this changes as he has less control over his life. He chooses to go with the flow rather than fight it but in so doing, makes eery choices. I say eery as they are so out of character.

He is always slightly removed though from other people with...more
Kris McCracken
A wonderfully evocative little book detailing a few weeks of 'escape' in the life of a French 'everyman' in the early days of the German invasion during WWII. The detached, almost terse narration has a dreamlike quality that both captured the apparent bliss and real terror of the situation. Highly recommended.
Nancy Komatz
This book was well written and offered insights into the terrible migration of refugees who fled ahead of the Nazi's. I simply could not relate to the main character's almost immediate abandonment of his loyalty to his wife and children in favor of the stranger he meets on the train. Perhaps in order to accept and to survive the conditions they found themselves in, the refugees had to become like sheep, accepting their meager bit of straw on the floor of a box car, accepting that they had no con...more
C’è chi con gli stuzzicadenti o i fiammiferi costruisce splendidi velieri.
Simenon, con due personaggi un po’ così - un lui un po’ scialbo, una lei potenzialmente notevole ma tenuta sottotono, molto sfumata – costruisce un romanzo che è anche una storia d’amore molto bella – insolita per le sue corde e toccante per le mie – un thriller - perché il piacere di leggere la sua bella prosa non elimina la voglia di sapere come vanno a finire le sue storie – ambientando il tutto in un...more
Utterly unique story (compared to most WWII fiction I have read) that concentrates on the changes that take place in people brought about during times of war, instead of the more blatant physical destruction depicted in most books taking place during war time. The heartbreaking loss that ends the book was not where I expected the narrative to travel. The prose is terse without seeming overly stylized and is a joy to read.
The publisher's synopsis (on this site) says too much, so don't read it. The plot, partially, is that a husband, wife and child get separated while boarding a train to escape France since the Germans are invading, in 1940. Suddenly, the husband feels some new sense of fate and, ironically, freedom. The scenes and images are memorable in this short psychological novel. The writing itself didn't seem special, but perhaps that's due to translation? Apparently the author's detective novels are prett...more
As Nazi tanks approach a bucolic French suburb in 1940, Marcel Féron must abandon his home and confront the “Fate” that he has secretly awaited.
Lourdes Mordini
Great wartime short fiction by the author of the Jules Maigret series.
"Né passato, né avvenire. Solo un fragile presente, che divoravamo e assaporavamo al tempo stesso.
Ci rimpinzavamo di piccole gioie, di immagini, di schegge di luce che, certamente, avremmo conservato per tutta la vita. Torturavamo le nostre carni nel vano tentativo di fonderle in una sola.
Non ho vergogna di dirlo, ero felice, di una felicità che stava alla felicità di ogni giorno come il suono che viene fuori passando l'archetto dal lato sbagliato del ponticello sta al suono normale di un viol...more
This was a very good, short novel. I can't remember where I got the recommendation to read it, but I'm thankful that I did.
This is the first book I've read by Georges Simenon, and though he's probably written better, this was a good place to start. Set against the backdrop of the Germans invading France during World War II, The Train is a character study with existentialist overtones, examining what happens to a man when the old conditions of his life are stripped away. The book is far from perfect, but it was a fascinating read and enough to interest me in reading more by Simenon. I'll be moving onto Tropic Moon ne...more
Quand je me suis éveillé, les rideaux de toile écrue laissaient filtrer dans al chambre une lumière jaunâtre que je connaissais bien.

Nos fenêtres, au premier étage, n'ont pas de volets.

Il n'y en a à aucune maison de la rue.

J'entendais, sur la table de nuit, le tic-tac du réveille-matin et, à côté de moi, la respiration scandée de ma femme, presque aussi sonore que celle des patients, au cinéma, pendant une opération.

Elle était alors enceinte de sept mois et demi.
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Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75...more
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