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The Train

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  751 Ratings  ·  98 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 Georgi VladimovAfter 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 — 30 voters
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inspirational books
29th out of 31 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 07, 2014 Nicole~ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, simenon
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
Jul 04, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 26, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it
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.
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
Mar 30, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france, simenon, fiction
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
Jul 04, 2011 Tad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
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
Oct 10, 2015 Fantaghiro23 rated it it was amazing
My first Simenon. Wow. Short, clear, and beautifully haunting sentences. A central character who feels real, evokes empathy, but also horror. A story, though set in WWII, shows isolated patches of beauty.

I am happy I finally got to read him. Will definitely be looking for more of his 400+ novels.
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.
Nov 25, 2012 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia
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
Dominic Carlin
Mar 21, 2016 Dominic Carlin rated it really liked it
How much knowledge should you go into a book with? Often, when deciding whether to read a book, I'll read the descriptions on Goodreads and the back cover, sometimes I'll also read a few reviews too. This book was variously described as 'psychological', a 'masterpiece', 'dark' and 'quietly horrifying'. I should have loved it. Unfortunately, this book was also described as 'blood-chilling'.

In general, THE TRAIN was very enjoyable and the problems I had with the book were not the fault of Georges
Oct 22, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
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
Jun 22, 2015 Jim Coughenour rated it it was ok
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
Lauren Davis
May 12, 2015 Lauren Davis rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2016 Troy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Brutal, quiet, and sharp. And a fast read. All Simenon hallmarks; all in full display here. Roughly a road trip book, except the protagonist is a refugee running from the Nazis invading Holland (although he officially lives in France). But it's really about a man who is a shell and who is unable to connect or feel. He is roughly a monster, yet he's a monster who falls in love—with a woman and with life. Yet his dis-attachment and coldness persist. A beautiful, quiet, and ugly book.
Tim Freeman
Jul 10, 2016 Tim Freeman rated it really liked it
One of his "hard novels" as not Maigret based, it is short, almost a novella. A poignant war time tale of a man separated from his family on a train and the young women he meets. Very good.
Conoscevo questo autore solo per il suo nome, per la fama che lo precede ma non avevo mai letto nulla di lui. Che grande errore! La sua scrittura è qualcosa di meraviglioso, scorre in una maniera indescrivibile, dalle prime pagine ho subito provato una forte sintonia con il suo modo di narrare, così fluido quanto elegante, mi è piaciuto davvero un sacco e sono sicura che in futuro leggerò altro di questo autore. Il libro che ho scelto mi ha catturata per la trama, non avendo mai letto nulla di S ...more
Perrin Pring
Feb 18, 2015 Perrin Pring rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, classics, short
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
Mar 08, 2014 Janis rated it really liked it
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
Rosie Morgan
Jan 22, 2015 Rosie Morgan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
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.
Dec 15, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
The Train considers a theme common in Simenon's 'hard novels', that of a man living an ordinary life, or perhaps one should say a life of quiet desperation, who is given an opportunity to experience a richer or at least more exciting life. In this novel the protagonist is separated from his wife and child as they are fleeing an anticipated Nazi invasion. What makes his story especially interesting is that it is told in the form of a journal he is writing years later. As such it allows the reader ...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 col s ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Jay rated it it was amazing
A novel that records the unpleasant truth about humanity and persons facing difficult/existential choices regarding them and their genetic material. Because most people don't want to know about humankind, it receives some unwarranted negative reviews. I served in the Army and can report that not everyone is Marcel, but more persons are than we commonly acknowledge.

I like Simenon's writing style. He writes with short, active verb and concrete noun sentences, using a minimum of adjectives and adve
Andy Vale
Jan 06, 2014 Andy Vale rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 09, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2014 Karen rated it it was ok
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
Jul 27, 2011 Elizabeth B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 liked it
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
Oct 09, 2014 Jay McNair rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translations
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
Feb 29, 2012 Lakis Fourouklas rated it it was amazing
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
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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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