A Train In Winter: An Extraordinary Story Of Women, Friendship And Survival In World War Two

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A Train In Winter: An Extraordinary Story Of Women, Friendship And Survival In World War Two

by Caroline Moorehead

Random House of Canada | April 10, 2012 | Trade Paperback

4.2857 out of 5 rating. 7 Reviews

On an icy morning in Paris in January 1943, 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; among them were teachers, biochemists, salesgirls, secretaries, housewives and university lecturers. Six of the women were still alive in 2010 and able to tell their stories of the great affection and camaraderie that took hold among the group. They became friends, and it was precisely this friendship that kept so many of them alive.
     Drawing on interviews with survivors and their families, on German, French and Polish archives, and on documents held by WW2 resistance organisations, A Train in Winter covers a harrowing part of history that is, ultimately, a portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and endurance, and of the particular qualities of female friendship.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: April 10, 2012

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307356957

ISBN - 13: 9780307356956

Found in: History

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– More About This Product –

A Train In Winter: An Extraordinary Story Of Women, Friendship And Survival In World War Two

A Train In Winter: An Extraordinary Story Of Women, Friendship And Survival In World War Two

by Caroline Moorehead

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: April 10, 2012

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307356957

ISBN - 13: 9780307356956

From the Publisher

On an icy morning in Paris in January 1943, 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; among them were teachers, biochemists, salesgirls, secretaries, housewives and university lecturers. Six of the women were still alive in 2010 and able to tell their stories of the great affection and camaraderie that took hold among the group. They became friends, and it was precisely this friendship that kept so many of them alive.
     Drawing on interviews with survivors and their families, on German, French and Polish archives, and on documents held by WW2 resistance organisations, A Train in Winter covers a harrowing part of history that is, ultimately, a portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and endurance, and of the particular qualities of female friendship.

About the Author

CAROLINE MOOREHEAD is the biographer of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark, Iris Origo and Martha Gellhorn. Well known for her work in human rights, she has published a history of the Red Cross and a book about refugees, Human Cargo, and her most recent book is Dancing to the Precipice, a biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin. The author lives in London and Italy.

Editorial Reviews

"A harrowing but also uplifting shared story of friendship, courage and endurance." The Independent
"By turns heartbreaking and inspiring." The New York Times Book Review
"Compassionate, meticulous and compulsively enthralling.... Essential reading." Daily Mail
"A tale of how female friendship ''can make the difference between living and dying.''" The Sunday Times
"A pitch-perfect study of human depravity, and of the heroism it can inspire." The Economist

Bookclub Guide

1. What is the importance of women's friendship in A Train in Winter? How is it shown, what forms does it take, and what difference does it make to the lives of the women described in the book?

2. How has this book changed your view of World War Two, the French Resistance, the role of women in wartime, or the Holocaust, or another subject discussed in the book?

3. Caroline Moorehead takes care in the book to tell individual stories. Which of these had the greatest impact on you while reading the book, and why?

4. What motives for the women's resistance work are presented in A Train in Winter? Are their reasons the same as those of men?

5. What will you remember about A Train in Winter?

6. If you could ask one of the survivors of the Convoi des 31000 a question about her experiences, what would it be?

7. Why do you think the history discussed in A Train in Winter was buried for so long?

8. What do you think was behind "attentisme" - holding on, waiting, doing nothing - the initial French reaction to the Occupation?

9. The women of the Convoi des 31000 longed to come home from the camps - but then those few who did so found their return to be sometimes impossibly hard. Why was this the case?

10. What lessons should we learn from A Train in Winter?

11. What role did the Communist Party play in the French Resistance? How were perspectives on it altered, first by the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, and then by the German invasion of the Soviet Union?

12. Debate the issue of French collaboration with the Nazi authorities as it is described in the book. What do you think you would do, if you were placed in some of the situations Caroline Moorehead describes?

13. What do you make of the turn in recent historical writing to "microhistories" of individual moments and stories, rather than grand abstract narratives? Which kind of historical writing do you prefer, and why?

14. If you could invite Caroline Moorehead to your book club discussion, what would you like to ask her about A Train in Winter, and why?

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