Cynthia's Reviews > The Train

The Train by Georges Simenon
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Jul 04, 11

bookshelves: books-read-in-2011
Read from July 02 to 03, 2011

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 this book. The war acts as a backdrop or permission to suspend normal behavior. Feron and Anna live in the moment; their bond is immediate and concrete, almost primitive though Feron never stops searching for his family.

“The Train” is dark and quietly horrifying. Simenon shows people at their ugliest with little glints of light showing through. The gore is minimal but motives are honed to an instinctual level. Sadly it all reads true to life. In my opinion Simenon is a master at subtly.
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Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Cynthia, I'm a huge fan of Simenon and never heard of The Train. Just looked it up and it's not being released until the 19th of this month. Do you have connections? This sounds like one of his "Roman Dur" that isn't too "dur." Is that right?


Cynthia If I'm understanding the term correctly (which I had to look up btw) yes this is a non-maigret novel and it was incredibly insightful and well written.

"......are modeled off of "romans dur" by George Simenon. According to the New York Review of Books, roman durs are defined as material " in which [they] display a sympathetic awareness of the emotional and spiritual pain underlying the routines of daily life."


Cynthia Now stop taxing my pea brain!!!


message 4: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Sorry. "Roman-dur" is mentioned all the time with his non-Maigret books. I figured since you got to this one so early you must have read others (?) and I assumed you knew the term. A few of his "non-Maigret" novels have been harrowing reads, though, as usual very insightful and altogether excellent. I just want to know what I am getting myself in for with his books. And you didn't answer my question about how you got the first copy. But that's okay. I don't want to know anything about your mafia connections.


Cynthia I've read a few others. I'm sure they were Maigrets but don't ask me to remember the titles. The Train was pretty gritty.


Cynthia Us book mafiosas have secret handshakes and we throw down other signs too. We're hurriedly coming up with one that indicates roman-dur or the anne as some of us like to call it.


message 7: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne If you call it "the anne" no one will know what you are talking about and will stop sending you galleys. I wouldn't risk it. But I see you know mafia language (throw down?). Now that's one I've never heard.


Cynthia That's why I have street cred you don't!


message 9: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I haven't read any of his books, but what I don't understand is how he has a 'new' book out (new translation?) when he died in 1989. Now that's what I call having connections!


Cynthia lol I didn't read all the pub info but I think lots of his books have been out of print.....esp the non-maigrets....and they're re-issuing them.


message 11: by Cynthia (last edited Jul 04, 2011 03:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynthia Teresa i went back and checked the pub info. It says it's believed he wrote as many as 500 boooks???? 75 were Maigrets. He died at 86. And since the translator, Baldick (what a name.....STOP YOUR SNICKERING....I hear you Merilee) died in '72 this isn't a new translation. There's even a quote by Herman Melville talking about how he liked to read Simenon when he was ship bound.


message 12: by Teresa (last edited Jul 04, 2011 03:48PM) (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "There's even a quote by Herman Melville talking about how he liked to read Simenon when he was ship bound. "

Oh, man, that is old!


message 13: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Cynthia wrote: "That's why I have street cred you don't!"

You must have street cred to get free, unreleased Simenons. I don't even want to hear what you have to do to deserve them. But one thing you could do is know your subject. The Man Who Wasn't Maigret is a great biography. You will learn about not only his prolific output but also his prolific input. Oh, I forgot about your pea brain. I better spell it out for you. He was a sex addict, among other things. A very interesting character.


Cynthia T you woke the squirrells in my brain and they started their wheel going. The Melville quote about reading is being used as the publisher's logo: Neversink.

Melville lived 1819 to 1891
Simenon lived 1903 to 1989


Cynthia That's too bad about his addiction. One of his daughter's commited suicide when she was 25 :(. And don't throw anymore books at me. I'm buried as it is.


message 16: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Who's throwing? :}


Cynthia Baldick?


message 18: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Exactly. LOL


message 19: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne BTW, when did you develop a sense of humor? In the last year? I recall a very different persona in the Yahoo groups.


message 20: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "T you woke the squirrells in my brain and they started their wheel going. The Melville quote about reading is being used as the publisher's logo: Neversink."

Ah, I see.


message 21: by Nannie (new) - added it

Nannie Bittinger If I can put my two cents worth in...C, you write the most compelling reviews and in reasonably short form too...this pea brain also has attention deficit and can't sit still long enough to read the long ones. Anyway my theory is: that is the reason you get the early proofs. They know you will do a great job selling the book:) yet another to add to my TBR...and the bio sounds fascinating too.


Cynthia Thank you Wanda....but I feel like I've stirred you wrong at least with 'crossed x'. I know my tastes are oblique but I hate feeling I've pointed my friends in the wrong directions.


message 23: by Nannie (new) - added it

Nannie Bittinger No, not at all. I was interested in the subject matter, just disappointed with the proofreading:) And I'm still enjoying all the Bosch mysteries--about 3/4 through Trunk Music...and would finish it but the gnats keep swarming my reading light so I shut it off and continued with an audio book.


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol Had never heard of this one...Agree that you write very concise, informative synopsis of your reads!


message 25: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne I also agree that you write terrific reviews.


message 26: by Pamela (new)

Pamela B Cynthia, I too enjoy all your reviews - it is all I can do to resist going out to get every single book you review! I'm looking forwad to a more relaxed reading schedule in less than a year, and one of the actions I'm going to take it to go back and read more of your reviews.


message 27: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan Holdgate Anne wrote: "Cynthia, I'm a huge fan of Simenon and never heard of The Train. Just looked it up and it's not being released until the 19th of this month. Do you have connections? This sounds like one of his ..."

Hi Anne
Where will I be able to buy an audiobook of the train ?
Many thanks
alan x


message 28: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Sorry Alan,
I don't listen to audiobooks. And since this book hasn't been released yet (July 17th, I think) I doubt that it is on audiobooks yet. But, like I said, I know nothing about the audiobook world. Sorry.


message 29: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan Holdgate Anne wrote: "Sorry Alan,
I don't listen to audiobooks. And since this book hasn't been released yet (July 17th, I think) I doubt that it is on audiobooks yet. But, like I said, I know nothing about the audiob..."


Many thanks anne

As far I know reading the review,s the book was published in 1961.
Is this a relaunch of the same title ?
alan x


message 30: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne yes. All his books are excellent. Maybe you can find a different book on audio.


message 31: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Here I am, late again. I have enjoyed reading all of this info about Simenon and Baldick (really weird!!). Your review, I agree, is very interesting. I look forward to seeing your critiques.

I have not read Simenon for many years, so I was surprised to see his name. I can't remember what I read by him, so don't ask!


message 32: by Maria (new)

Maria Cynthia, your review has made me put this up front & center -- thanks.


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