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The Train

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  588 ratings  ·  80 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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Faithful Ruslan by Георгий ВладимовAfter Midnight by Irmgard KeunThe Train by Georges SimenonI Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLaneA Country Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov
Neversink Library
3rd out of 39 books — 26 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 60 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
Well that was the most pointless, meaningless, chauvinistic story I've read in awhile.

wtf gif photo: WTF?! guyintie.gif

Let me summarize it for you:

Dude runs from the war with his wife/kid. Dude gets separated from said wife/kid. Dude screws random girl over the course of a month or so until reunion with wife/kid. Dude leaves screwed girl in the dust and goes back to his life. Dude becomes ULTIMATE douchebag at the very end due to spoiler that I won't say.

Dude needs to go to hell.
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
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
You know those books where the plot is not much action but the characters and settings are so powerfully done it sells the book? That's this book about a French man and his family fleeing the advancing Germans.

And then you get to the end and you go wow, when you put it down.
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
Georges Simenon fascinates me. He writes these hauntingly taut stories that have a surprise ending. I've read both of his Inspector Maigret mysteries and what has been called his "Hard Novels", and Simenon has grown on me.

The Train is one of the Hard Novels. It's the beginning of WWII and the Germans are marching through Belgium. Marcel Feron and his pregnant wife and daughter have decided to flee to the south of France, to escape the Germans. They are able to get on the train, but Marcel is sep
Jim Coughenour
Over the last month I've been reading Anthony Beevor's The Second World War, which once again hammers home how horrific the "good war" was. Simenon's short novel is set in the first weeks of the German invasion of France. I find almost anything by Simenon worth reading but, for me, The Train is one of his least interesting romans dur. I enjoyed most its specific perversity – its two lovers discover love and freedom even as they are displaced and threatened with disaster. And then it all ends, as ...more
Perrin Pring
Sometimes you just need a short book, you know? Weighing in at around 150 pages, the Train is short, concise, and poignant.

The Train centers around Marcel Feron, a thirty something father of soon to be two, during the brief period in his life when he is separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter while fleeing the Nazis.

What struck me about the train is its insight in to just how fast humans can adjust to a new situation while rationalize away their old one. Feron quickly adjusts to be
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
Lauren Davis
Most people are familiar with Georges Simenon as the creator of Commissaire Maigret, but the man wrote over 400 novels. The Train was first published in 1961, re-issued here by Melville House Publishing as part of their "Neverlink Library" (which I encourage all serious readers to explore). It is arguably one of the most accomplished of his work. And that's saying something.

Set in France, in this novel we meet Marcel Feron, an Everyman, an ordinary man, even perhaps a bit of a bland person, in
Rosie Morgan
Just finished and I wished I hadn't, I loved it!
This one is definitely worth a top rating and to anyone out there wondering why quite so many of my reviews and ratings are so generous it's because I tend to cherry-pick my books.
'The train' was recommended to me by the extremely knowledgeable folk in Mr B's Reading Emporium in Bath, an indie bookshop like no other - and the main culprit for my groaning bookshelves.
It's a short, beautiful book set in France at the onset of the second world war.
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 col s ...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
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
It was okay. In the author's defense, though, some of his novels are about things that happened long ago in France, so I have no context to put them in. This particular one is about a French refugee in WW2 on a Belgian train and the stranger he meets. Simenon excels at stories about normal people who observe or are part of something trivial and are then driven to do things out-of-character. This story had an actual stressful event instead of the usual mundane event and for me that made it less i ...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
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
Jay McNair
First read March 2013
I'm not sure what it was about this book, but lately, for some reason, it's been the one I think of first.

"I want to make it clear right away that I was not an unhappy man, nor a sad man either."

Second read October 2014
What a novel. It just works for me. I am taken in all the way. Great chapter endings. Great familiarity among the strangers-become-roommates on the train. And a really poignant, believable love affair.

There is this sense of inevitability that I can't quite exp
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 Feron 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 saf
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
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
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
Un altro libro perfetto di Simenon. Solita struttura "nuda", spogliata di tutto il superfluo, di ogni parola in più. Eppure resta tutto quello che serve. In 140 pagine la vita di un uomo strappato alla sua casa dalla guerra, separato da moglie incinta e figlia durante il viaggio in treno e precipitato in una specie di momentanea altra vita. Bellissimo.
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.
The Germans have just invaded Holland, and in the town of Fumay, France, near the Belgian border, Marcel and his family have decided to leave town before they invade France. This is a very short, haunting book about a very ordinary family man during extraordinary times, who lives life for a few weeks.
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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 about Georges Simenon...
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