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on October 22, 2014
A very difficult book to read and definitely not for the sensitive reader. Moorehead splits her book into 2 parts. The first part tells us how quickly the French Army collapsed under German attack, life in occupied France, the growth of the Resistance Movement, and the background of the Frenchwomen involved in the Resistance.

It is the second part that becomes so difficult to read. The women are placed on a train that carries them to Auschwitz/Birkenaur, and they develop a strong friendship that enables them to keep their humanity, their decency, and finally allows a very few of them to survive. Moorehead gives graphic descriptions of how prisoners in the concentration camps were made to suffer at the hands of the SS as well as by other prisoners who were trying to survive the terrible conditions of the camps. The last chapter is one of the hardest to read - the prisoners are free and have returned to their homes to learn that no one wants to listen to them, to hear their experiences. The general attitude is "the war is over, let's move on." One woman meets the gendarme who betrayed her to the Germans on the street, and is shocked when he smiles at her and holds out his hand. Another woman learns that the two gendarmes who betrayed her and her husband fought the Germans at the end of the war and are immune from prosecution. We get a sense of their frustration as many of the guilty are not punished but go on to have good lives. All in all, an important book but one that is hard to read and almost impossible to put down. Highly recommended but not for the sensitive reader. (less)
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on December 21, 2014
Remarkable achievement to track down the few survivors. That said, the author took on too ambitious a project, and all these women's stories start to get muddled. Any ONE of these women's tales would have been poignant, even overwhelming, especially if told in the context of WWII and the setting of occupied France. My book club gave it a thumbs down. We didn't even know how to pull it apart to have a useful discussion. This book needed a strong editor at the start (BEFORE the author ever wrote a word!) to help shape the story and how to most effectively tell it. Too bad it wasn't taken more seriously by the publisher and shepherded through the publication process with more care.
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on November 17, 2016
I'm giving this three stars for a few reasons:
1. I just finished reading The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale. Those were both beautiful fiction novels. For some reason I thought this would also be a fiction novel (didn't read the fine print).
2. I bought the audio cd. The woman reading the book has a strong English accent which is sometimes hard to understand. She reads the book so fast that I keep wanting to rewind to hear things again. She rambles off the facts of the book like she is reading a shopping list. This gives the audio cd a one star.
3. After getting past numbers 1 and 2 above, it is a very interesting account of how the women and the French Resistance fought the Germans at every turn. You really get a sense of what living in occupied France was like.

I would recommend reading the book rather than listening to the cd because you will be able to go at your own pace and absorb all the information. There are so many people mentioned that it is hard to keep them all straight using the audio cd.
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on February 18, 2018
Probably the single most harrowing book I have ever read in my 77 years on this earth !!.
I can only imagine the amount of painstaking research put into this project. Must have taken years to put all this data together and then turn it into book.
The problem I had was keeping the characters straight, the reader is bombarded with names early on. Having said that, everything else was superb but perhaps a bit long.
The last part of the book dealing with the aftermath and reentry into post war life was especially eye opening and depressing.
Should be required reading for anyone delving into the Holocaust and related subjects.
It is difficult to believe that cruelty on this level could be committed by humans.
I will vividly remember this book for the rest of my life.
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on January 18, 2018
It took about 50 pages for this story to take hold because there were so many characters but once it did it was an emotional roller coaster. It’s hard to imagine your life being measured in days and weeks and the unbelievable inhuman conditions they were forced to withstand. Realizing that your life could end because you offered someone something to drink or failed to respond to a command that you didn’t understand. Although these events took place almost 75 years ago they should never be forgotten or misinterpreted. The most ironic thing was that Hitler had sent a message requesting that ALL of the French woman still alive at the end of the war be exterminated but the message never got through because the phone lines were down.
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on September 6, 2013
A Train in Winter is subtitled "An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France." Because of their work in the French Resistance, these women, of varying ages, backgrounds, and careers, but all equally courageous, are arrested, jailed, and eventually transported to Auschwitz, where their friendship is the bond that offers the hope to survive. So yes, absolutely, the women are extraordinary. But the writing itself, not.

As other reviewers have noted, there are so many names, introduced in such close proximity, that it is difficult if not impossible to distinguish one woman from other. The fact that the author occasionally (and seemingly without rationale)inserts random phrases in French, which is not translated, means that the reader simply has to make his or her best guess at what is being said, based on previous context, but misses what could be a very important part of the narrative.

Part Two of the book, which takes place during the women's time in the camp, details, in a horrific (indeed, unspeakable) way the atrocities that they had to witness and themselves endured. While brutally hard to read (I often had to set the book aside, take a breath, and calm myself) it also increases our respect and admiration for these women and girls who have become a family.

Photographs are included, with one of the Auschwitz gurads, men and women alike, posing for a group picture. Above all, that one picture has haunted me. To erase this image of evil, I instead try to see the women of the convoy, helping each other, holding each other, praying, hoping, waiting for rescue, determined to survive and tell their story. Ms. Moorehead was doubtless well-intentioned, but due to the above-mentioned issues, and a lack of editing, just falls a bit short. This is a story that would have been better were it 100 pages shorter.

So the three stars given this book are in recognition of women, those on the train in winter, and those others, whose names may never be known.
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on September 22, 2015
The first half of the book truly took fortitude and determination to read. I found all the names, facts and places of so many people confusing. Then, add all the French places and words that I have no knowledge of and add random bits of information. I gave up after a while and went to part two. Part two was much more interesting and easy to read but I found the horrors of the Halocaust unbearable. I have done much reading and research during this period but none so articulately described. I would add that this would be a wonderful history book, but don't read it if you want dialogue and a story line.
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on December 14, 2017
It is very enlightening. I neither liked nor disliked this book. I am glad that I read it, it hurts my heart for all of these people who suffered so terribly. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of all that happened to them.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in World War II and the world we live in now. There is no doubt in my mind that there are people who suffer today in countries where this kind of brutality exists.
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on November 24, 2015
It is great Ms. Moorehead took the time and did the research to give this important incident in history. A knowledge of French would be beneficial but not necessary. The book exposes the harsh treatment the women went thru and many were able to survive. Some are still living today and others have passed away in the past few years. The most striking thing to me was these women returned to a normal life after the war and never sought publicity and did not consider their actions heroic but simply a part of surviving the war.
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on August 13, 2013
This is the story of some tremendously courageous women who worked for the French Resistance during WW11. These women literally gave up their lives - husbands, children and parents - to protest and to possibly make a difference in the terrible conditions under German Nazism in France.

When I finished reading this book I found myself wishing that I could embrace every single one of them to show my compassion for what they endured before, during and after the war finally ended. As can be imagined, since they were transported to German prison camps, there were not very many happy endings even for the survivors.

I applaud Ms. Moorehead for telling this story. Thank you for a job well done.
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