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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  4,431 Ratings  ·  945 Reviews
On an icy dawn morning in Paris in January 1943, a group of 230 French women resisters were rounded up from the Gestapo detention camps and sent on a train to Auschwitz - the only train, in the four years of German occupation, to take women of the resistance to a death camp.The youngest was a schoolgirl of 15, the eldest a farmer's wife of 68; there were among them teacher ...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Random House Export (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melissa Prange
A Train in Winter tells the fascinating story of the French resistance during World War II. The author, Caroline Moorland, focuses her book on the women of the French resistance. These women might not wield guns or plant bombs, but they do house refugees in their hotels, print papers in their basements, and hand out flyers in the streets. These women chose to risk their lives rather than run to safety or simply endure. The women are grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and children, and all are dra ...more
Will Byrnes
Updated 8/5/13 - see link at bottom

Paris had become a city of collaborators, both open and hidden, anti-Semites, anti-Freemasons, repentant communists and right-wing Catholics, who had hated Blum’s Front Populaire and felt more than a sneaking admiration for the German cult of youthful valour, orderliness and heroism.
Thankfully there were people who stood tall against the madness. A Train in Winter is a moving and devastating story of a group of two hundred thirty incredibly brave French wome
...more
Melanie
Aug 30, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney, whom we have lost this sad August morning, writes this:

"In one of the poems best known to students in my generation, a poem which could be said to have taken the nutrients of the symbolist movement and made them available in capsule form, the American poet Archibald MacLeish affirmed that “A poem should be equal to/not true.” As a defiant statement of poetry's gift for telling truth but telling it slant, this is both cogen
...more
☮Karen
So the first half was chock fullof names and dates like many nonfiction books that bore me to death.But I knew from reading other reviews not to judge too quickly.

These were 230 women of all occupations, backgrounds, and aged 15-67. French women suspected of resistance, communism, or a variety of offenses. All were very interesting in their own right. But I ended up wishing the author had chosen to focus only on a handful of the women to tell the story of the group. I knew the females depicted
...more
Jen
Mar 07, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful book and one that will stay with me for a very long time. A disturbing account of the atrocities that took place during WW2. A story about friendship, passion and survival. Women who were involved in the resistance movement of occupied France by the Germans; the steps they took to stand up and fight for their country and where it landed them: on a train bound for a concentration camp. All 230 of them. This is a story of the depth of love these women had for each other - how th ...more
Lisa Vegan
I think I’d have enjoyed reading this book no matter what but I was particularly happy to read it with my reading buddy Diane, and glad that she wanted to read slowly through the book; it made the reading experiencing really fun, if I can use that word, and absorbing and thinking about the information more interesting.

I’ve read extensively about the Holocaust, but I learned so much from this book. I knew little of the treatment of French women Communists and other Nazi resistors. I’m fascinated
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry dry
A veritable Sahara of a book (minus the camels). The importance of memorializing these women is not in question, and I know many people will appreciate this book. I just couldn't take the writing.

One quibble I had with the portion I did read: She seems to be implying that all the people in the French Resistance were communists. I'm no history expert, but is that not incorrect?
Christie
Dec 04, 2013 Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii, memoir
A very fascinating and well written account of 230 women from France that stood up and took part in the Resistance. The book follows them on the journey of German occupation of France to their fate up to and after the liberation of the concentration camps. The author did what great authors do and that is impose thought and reflection on what you've read. There were a lot of questions that were raised for me that will give cause to research and learn more about the many topics discussed. I think ...more
Britany
A Train in Winter tells the story of women of the French Resistance who were arrested and sentenced to prison and then transported to concentration camps during WWII. A non fictionalized account of the French women who endured a harrowing experience that I personally have not read about before. These women fought for communism and freedom, fighting to keep Paris alive during the Nazi invasion. Sent to Auschwitz and then onto Ravensbruck, these women endured, some perished carrying their stories ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 15, 2011 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful and intense read covering the Nazi takeover of France and the early days of the French Resistance and underground communism movement. Although it is always difficult to read any book covering the Nazi atrocities and this book is no exception, it is also so much more. There is generosity in the face of adversity, self sacrifice and friendships that help many of the woman get through their imprisonment at Auschwitz. Although way to many died, still more than average lived, the care thes ...more
Diane
What an incredibly emotional, heavy and powerful book -- the cover of my copy states "compelling and moving, a necessary book" as written by the Washington Post. I would say that describes this book perfectly.

Such a large part of WW2 history is revealed in heart-stopping and brutal detail. I knew embarrassingly little about Germany's occupation of France, and even less about the French Resistance. Not only do you read about the heartbreaking horrors of the 'camps', but the reader is also exposed
...more
KOMET
This book is true to its billing. Though I was born a couple of decades after the Second World War, the War itself for me is not an abstraction. My father and several relatives served in the military during the War, experienced the hazards of combat in Europe. Besides, my father also knew people who lived in France under the German occupation. Thus, reading this book was a reminder for me of how the Second World War impacted upon the heart and soul of a nation.

The focus of the book is on a group
...more
Felicity
Mar 25, 2012 Felicity rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, this book deserves a much higher rating. Moorehead reconstructs the lives (as best she can based on remaining historical evidence) of French women sent to Nazi concentration camps during World War II, specifically the women of Convoy 31000 (the number of the convoy that shuttled them from Paris to the camps and seared into their flesh forever as tattoos). Most of the women on the convoy were political prisoners: women who had been members of the Resistance or via other means, quest ...more
Sharon Metcalf
May 27, 2016 Sharon Metcalf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This amazing book was so thoroughly researched it took 11 pages to document her source notes and the Bibliography. Of greater significance in terms of making it a realistic and personal account, she also interviewed seven of the remaining survivors spending hours with them over a period of a year or two. Whilst I did not like this book in the traditional sense it was nothing to do with the author or the quality of her writing. It was simply that the content was so horrific, the atrocities so gre ...more
Laurie Notaro
Sep 09, 2014 Laurie Notaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most phenomenal books I've ever read. It is essential, profound, moving, shocking, horrifying and astounding. I am embarrassed that I knew nothing of these women before I read the book; World War Two and the Holocaust are full of millions of stories, equally deserving of attention, but the fact that the fate of 230 women, most of them French resistance fighters between the ages of 15-65, had previously gone unmentioned is another crime against them. As a group, they traveled from a Fr ...more
Carl Brookins
Jan 15, 2012 Carl Brookins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book falls under the heading of true crime. It deals with mass murder, attempted genocide and a side of France in the 1940’s that is generally not well-known. This is also one of the most difficult and amazing books I have ever had the privilege of reading. This is, as the cover states, “an extraordinary story of women, friendship and resistance in occupied France.”

In mid-June, 1940, the German army occupied Paris and France fell. There was, for a while, a partition, Vichy France under the
...more
Rita-Marie
Whoa. It's been awhile since I've "missed" a book after I've finished it and sobbed while reading it. A meticulously researched work that was eye opening w/insights about occupied France and the role of the resistance. I was blown away by what the human spirit can endure. I think everyone wonders what they would do when put in extraordinary circumstances and this book served as a testament to spectrum of the nature of the human animal while capturing the bonds of friendships and the horrors of W ...more
Chris
I did find parts of this book dry, but it is less dry when the women get imprisoned. While I enjoyed the whole book, I did find it a little annoying that it was at times as if we were looking in at the women instead of following one narrative. This might be a product of the subject matter, but I didn't feel the same way with books like Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women. I think there needed to be a little more glue. I also was little annoyed at the idea of "hap ...more
David Williams
Jul 06, 2012 David Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having just put down this book it's difficult for me to marshal my thoughts for a considered review simply because of the impact this harrowing account has had on me emotionally and psychologically. It has left me weeping for the unimaginable cruelty humans are capable of wreaking on their fellows, and my heart full for the extraordinary sacrifices and selfless kind acts that others have been prepared to make in the face of such barbarity even while victims themselves, imprisoned in a man-made h ...more
Molly
May 04, 2016 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-history
Moorehead's account describes the fate of 230 Frenchwomen who resisted Nazi occupation and Vichy collaboration--by distributing anti-German leaflets, vandalizing public places with pro-resistance slogans, by smuggling Jewish neighbors and friends across the demarcation line, even striking German and French police officers who molested them--and, after a long stint in terrible conditions in French prisons, ended up in Auschwitz in 1943. Many of these women were communists; some had no political a ...more
Carol
Apr 11, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If a book is to be judged on how fiercely it pierces the consciousness of its reader, this book deserves multiple stars. Like others, I have seen the horrific photographs of the prisoners released from labor and concentration camps as the Allied forces swept through Europe. I am always stunned and appalled to see in those photos what human beings can do to other human beings. I'm also quick to look away, because the prisoners, emaciated, filthy,and shorn of hair, seem almost not real, not human ...more
Alison
Jul 02, 2016 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Edited later to give a rating because I decided I want all of my books to have ratings for whatever reason...)

I am not able to give this book a star rating, because it is both engrossing and poignant and awe-inspiring...while also being horrifying and heartbreaking. It is one I would recommend highly to everyone with the huge caveat that reading it might be awful. *The book* is not awful - what it details is, and the experience of reading it is a good-bad one. (See, I can't even review it coher
...more
Kristin Strong
Feb 12, 2012 Kristin Strong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
A fascinating, heartbreaking, engrossing book about 230 courageous Frenchwomen, arrested and imprisoned for anti-Nazi activities, then transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The fates of many of the women come as no surprise; the miracle is that 49 of them survived horrible conditions, supported each other through the most unthinkable circumstances, avoided the gas chambers, and eventually returned to France. The author does a creditable job of rendering as many women as possible as developed charac ...more
Chrissie
ETA: please see message 27 below. This is a concise summary of my view:
I am glad I read it, but I do believe it has too many problems to give it more stars. I am glad I learned about this French group of women - particularly since I live and spend time in France! I also appreciated that the French behavior during the war is shown honestly. Many of them supported Pétain. This is not washed over. I also found the info about Mengele's experiments both riveting and horrible. I just wish I had come t
...more
Nancy
Apr 15, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you write a review on a book that contrasts the absolute cruelty and sadistic imaginations with friendship and altruism? It is very difficult, indeed.

I've read many books on WWII that describe the Jewish POV and soldier POV. This time the POV is that of female political prisoners of war. This point of view hit closer to home as I am neither Jewish nor a soldier. It begs the question, if placed in a situation where not in immediate danger, what side of the line would I stand?

The first part
...more
Holly
Jul 14, 2016 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2016-reads
The first half told a detailed background on the French Resistance and one becomes familiar with the women and their lives in occupied France. Parts 8-11 of the audiobook were a devastating (and important) listening experience, as Moorehead followed these women into Ravensbruck and Auschwitz. I cannot believe some of them survived those horrors. Based on Moorehead's interviews with these women, and also describes what their postwar lives were like.
Alisa
Feb 14, 2015 Alisa rated it liked it
Shelves: women-rule, wwii
This book recounts the journey of 230 French women who were arrested and imprisoned for participating in the French Resistance during the German occupation of France in WWII. Many of these women did not know each other before they ended up in prison together, and as they were grouped together by their captors quickly formed a bond and found ways to look out after each other as a way to get through their dire circumstances. Ranging in ages from 15 to mid-60s at the time of their capture, they wer ...more
Elaine Burnes
Dec 04, 2013 Elaine Burnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of this book. I’m not Jewish, I’m not French, but I am a lesbian and it is possible for me to imagine the evil that can be perpetrated against people simply for who they are. This was a story I’d never heard before. It is a must read for anyone who wants to call themselves human. It is both mind boggling and mind numbing. Inspiring but heartbreaking. It won’t answer the questions, why does evil exist or what makes people capable of inflicti ...more
The Book Maven
This nonfiction piece lacked the same easy readability that other nonfiction authors (i.e., Laura Hillenbrand and Erik Larson) have achieved, so that's why I deducted a star. Other than a few tedious moments, however, this was a really rather pleasurable nonfiction read.

Excuse me--I should qualify that with the follow-up statement of, as pleasurable a read as the subject matter allows.

A Train in Winter follows the fates of over three hundred females who were arrested and punished for their activ
...more
Deborah Pickstone
We have a distance now from WWII and forget, perhaps, the horrors that occurred. Some of them we 'never' knew because they were politically suppressed. This was most true in France where there had been a war-long schism as France divided along the Vichy line into Vichy France and the Zone Libre. After the war it was seen as imperative to quickly create a sense of unity as a nation, to which end a lot of things were swept under a metaphorical carpet. The events of this book form part of that, par ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine (?): A Train in Winter 3 164 Dec 02, 2013 05:33PM  
The Life of a Boo...: Q3 2013 Non-Fiction Read: A Train in Winter 31 76 Sep 21, 2013 11:28AM  
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Caroline Moorehead has written columns on human rights first for The Times and then for the Independent (1980-91) and has made a series of TV programmes on human rights for the BBC (1990-2000). She has also written the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1998) and has helped to set up a Legal Advice Centre for refugees in Cairo, where she has started schools and a nursery.
More about Caroline Moorehead...

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“Voltaire… A true Aryan must be blond like Hitler, slender like Göring, tall like Goebbels, young like Pétain, and honest like Laval.” 1 likes
“I had to hold fast to the end, and die of living.” 0 likes
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