The Train by Georges Simenon

Back of the book:
Restored to print for the first time in more than forty years, this masterpiece of psychological suspense tells the tale of Marcel Feron – a poor man who, against all odds, had made a ‘normal’ life in a bucolic French village in the Ardennes. But one spring day in 1940, the German army invades France, and he 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 southward ahead of the pursuing Nazis. There, he meets Anna, a sad-looking, dark-haired girl, whose accent is ‘neither Belgian nor German,’ and who ‘seemed foreign to everything around her.’
As the mystery of Anna’s identity is gradually revealed, Marcel leaps from the heights of an exhilarating freedom to the depths of a terrifying responsibility – one that will lead him to a blood chilling choice.
When it first appeared in English in 1964, British novelist and critic Brigid Trophy declared The Train to be ‘the novel his admirers had been expecting all along from Simenon.’ Until The Train, she wrote, the dazzlingly prolific novelist had been ‘a master without a masterpiece.’

A fascinating little book. A very intimate look into the life of one man when war was just starting and the psychological effect that has on him and those around him. I found it to be honest and probably true. It’s told in the first person, years later as he is recording his story for posterity’s sake. Hard to put down, read it in one day. I wasn’t even aware Simenon had written stand-alone novels aside from Maigret. This one was my very first Simenon book. Now I’m looking forward to digging into one of the Maigret books I have here now!

New York Times said “There is no false note, not one word or sigh or smile which strikes me as anything but unavoidable. This is not a writer’s romancing story of a little man caught in the war; it is the unknown history of many little men in that vast war.”

My copy is a Neversink Library edition by Melville House Publishing. It’s a lovely slim edition that feels so good in your hands. I’ve never heard of Neversink. This is what is in the front of the book…

The Neversink Library
I was by no means the only reader of books on board the Neversink. Several other sailors were diligent readers, though their studies did not lie in the way of belles-lettres. Their favorite authors were such as you may find at the book-stalls around Fulton Market; they were slightly physiological in their nature. My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.
~Herman Melville, White Jacket

‘The Neversink Library champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, under appreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored.’
Check it out HERE.

One thought on “The Train by Georges Simenon

  1. My mother was a huge fan of Simenon and particularly Maigret, She never did get to visit Paris, maybe just as well as it wouldn’t have been how she expected it to be.


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