A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two by Caroline Moorehead

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two

byCaroline Moorehead

Kobo ebook | November 1, 2011

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“How can you do this work if you have a child?” asked her mother.

“It is because I have a child that I do it,” replied Cecile. “This is not a world I wish her to grow up in.”

On January 24, 1943, 230 women were placed in four cattle trucks on a train in Compiegne, in northeastern France, and the doors bolted shut for the journey to Auschwitz. They were members of the French Resistance, ranging in age from teenagers to the elderly, women who before the war had been doctors, farmers’ wives, secretaries, biochemists, schoolgirls. With immense courage they had taken up arms against a brutal occupying force; now their friendship would give them strength as they experienced unimaginable horrors. Only forty-nine of the Convoi des 31000 would return from the camps in the east; within ten years, a third of these survivors would be dead too, broken by what they had lived through. In this vitally important book, Caroline Moorehead tells the whole story of the 230 women on the train, for the first time. Based on interviews with the few remaining survivors, together with extensive research in French and Polish archives, A Train in Winter is an essential historical document told with the clarity and impact of a great novel.

Caroline Moorehead follows the women from the beginning, starting with the disorganized, youthful and high-spirited activists who came together with the Occupation, and chronicling their links with the underground intellectual newspapers and Communist cells that formed soon afterwards. Postering and graffiti grew into sabotage and armed attacks, and the Nazis responded with vicious acts of mass reprisal – which in turn led to the Resistance coalescing and developing. Moorehead chronicles the women’s roles in victories and defeats, their narrow escapes and their capture at the hands of French police eager to assist their Nazi overseers to deport Jews, resisters, Communists and others. Their story moves inevitably through to its horrifying last chapters in Auschwitz: murder, starvation, disease and the desperate struggle to survive. But, as Moorehead notes, even in the most inhuman of places, the women of the Convoi could find moments of human grace in their companionship: “So close did each of the women feel to the others, that to die oneself would be no worse than to see one of the others die.”

Uncovering a story that has hitherto never been told, Caroline Moorehead exhibits the skills that have made her an acclaimed biographer and historian. In this book she places the reader utterly in the world of wartime France, casting light on what it was like to experience horrific terrors and face impossible moral dilemmas. Through the sensitive interviews on which the book is based, she tells personal and individual stories of courage, solace and companionship. In this way, A Train in Winter ultimately becomes a valuable memorial to a unique group of heroines, and a testimony to the particular power of women’s friendship even in the worst places on earth.

Title:A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War TwoFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:November 1, 2011Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307366677

ISBN - 13:9780307366672

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Very good book about the strength of women during the occupation.
Date published: 2017-10-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok such a strange read... there were just too many problems and I couldn't bring myself to finish it.
Date published: 2017-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I had a hard time putting this book down. What these women went through is heartbreaking but their will to live and their strength and hope is inspirational.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I really had high hopes for this book, and with "Heather's Pick" sticker-ed on the front, I really thought this was going to be an amazing read. Wrong. It was written more like a textbook, no flow, no story line. Just facts written out in a boring way. I really pushed myself to read as much as I could, give it a chance, perhaps in a few chapters things will change. Not at all. It was the same thing, over and over again. What the women went through in France during the German occupancy. They all did the same, they all hid, they all did runs for the rebellion, they were all scared, they were all angry, they all had men family members that were killed or taken away. It wasn't intimate, I didn't get to know the characters at all, I didn't feel for them, I didn't want to know more. I wasn't expecting it to be all sunshine and roses, I wasn't expecting it to be uplifting either. I at least expected a good read. I pretty much only read novels based in the 1930s-1940s and WWII. Whether it's fiction, non fiction, biography, romance, etc. After about 100 pages I put it down and was do disappointed that this was made one of Heather's Picks and that I paid that much for a book that wasn't worth it.
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Inspirational and delightful.
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not sure what I was expecting but this wasn't it. If you like reading history text books than this is the book for you. if you're looking for something with a bit more finesse and more of a story, then look elsewhere
Date published: 2017-05-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow read The topic is very interesting, however the book isn't written as well as it could be. Very slow pace and there are so many names and nicknames that it's hard to keep track. A character index would have been helpful.
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tough Read... I know this is a good book and a story that needs to be told. I so much wanted to read it but the amount of detail, names, dates, locations overtakes the telling of the actual story.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Insight This book took me longer than usual to read. It is very eye opening to see more than just the Jews who suffered during the Holocaust. It is a great story of resilience and strength in humanity. And how they banded together for survival. Really enjoyed this book, it was an interesting read.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book While a bit difficult to get into at the beginning, this was an amazing and heartbreaking account. This is a book that will definitely stay with you long after you've finished.
Date published: 2017-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Opened My Eyes to Respect how Strong Women really are! Loved this book not because of the tragedy but the strength,the bonds that women really can have to succeed.All women should read this and never forget we are stronger together than competing for anything or anyone!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Difficult read but still informative I gave this book as a gift and ended up reading it as well. I found there was a lot of people to keep track of and the writing tended to jump from person to person. It was a difficult read because there was little organization to the stories. Regardless this book certainly showed how many brave women resisted the Germans and fought back in whatever ways they could. Many of them dying for their actions. I'd give it more stars if the book was organized better and less extraneous facts were included.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brave women! At first slow and confusing with so many names being dropped I did get into this and enjoy the story however sad it was, the women were strong in spirit sticking together to get through their nightmare
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A real eye-opener An amazing account of the unbelievable heartache and horrors suffered throughout the second world war. The strength and power of these women is incredible; and that they lived to tell their story. A real eye-opener.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hard to get into It's rough getting through the first few chapters - however, it is interesting for history lovers and touches on a new perspective of life during the world war.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read for any history lover A Train in Winter was quite an eye opener. This book looked into the lives of a number of women throughout the second world war and Caroline Moorehead did a great job of allowing each woman to have her own unique voice. The power in this story comes from the fact that each woman collectively was important, but it was the way they worked together that really made the difference. Many of those women may not have survived if it wasn't for the group dynamic.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important read It's so important to learn about history. I did not expect this to be an easy read and it wasn't but it was worth reading. There were some moments that I got caught up in all the different names and it got a little wordy.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extraordinary Starts off slow at first, but then all the pieces start coming together. Really an amazing story! #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I expected I did not enjoy reading this book as I expected an amazing heroic story about courageous women that I would not be able to put down. Instead I found it very poorly written and difficult to follow with too many characters, too much detail and poor writing style.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gave this book as a gift I bought my mom this book. She said she really loved reading it.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Tedious Read Though I understand the desire to detail each woman's story, this book suffers from a tedious amount of detail that is impossible to remember. Jumping from one women to the next, no one story gets the detail and attention that it deserves.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read The first part of the book is a bit difficult to read as it gives a lot of detail and history; although it's all very interesting. Overall great book, it's so important to be aware of history and the various viewpoints from the decades.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from An amazing story poorly told The first half of the book suffers from too much detail. The endless names takes away from the story as it becomes extremely difficult to keep everyone straight. The painful stories need to be told, however, the writing style made finishing the book a chore.
Date published: 2016-06-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Book. Read this book awhile ago. Great writing. Hard to put down.
Date published: 2016-03-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A difficult book to read. The Horrors of WWII The book was difficult to read because it was full of facts and names. It reads like a documentary and is very dry. However, the stories of these courageous women needs to be told. How they fought for their country and ultimately for their lives. Most of the camp survivors are gone by now, but their stories live on in this well researched book. Kudos to Caroline Moorehead for all of the research and writing.
Date published: 2015-09-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A difficult book to read. The Horrors of WWII The book was difficult to read because it was full of facts and names. It reads like a documentary and is very dry. However, the stories of these courageous women needs to be told. How they fought for their country and ultimately for their lives. Most of the camp survivors are gone by now, but their stories live on in this well researched book. Kudos to Caroline Moorehead for all of the research and writing.
Date published: 2015-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shocking and eye opening I am about 3/4 through the book and have a hard time putting it down. I was expecting a "story" type read and this is a history type book , but oh, so worth the read. Even though it does not give graphic details you get a very good sense of what is happening. It is hard to believe any human being could be that cruel or that anyone could survive the treatment. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history of WWII.
Date published: 2014-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a great book to read ! I finished reading the book a week ago and it's still haunting me. The first part of the book was a bit confusing with many names and places. The second part however got more interesting and heartwrenching. I couldn't put down the book. It is a really good book.
Date published: 2014-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a train in winter I have not read the book.It sounded very interesting so I bought it for my sister for her birthday coming up
Date published: 2014-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Train in Winter I bought this book along with four others and I have just finished reading the first four books and have just started A Train in Winter. From the first introductory page, it got my attention and I know that I am going to find this a very good read. That is important to be "grabbed" right at the beginning because you know you are not going to put the book aside. I am going to read it and enjoy it.
Date published: 2014-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional Reality This book was amazing. Very emotional and lots of sadness throughout, but if you're looking for a true account of what happened to many women (and men) during the Holocaust through a vivid and courageous narrative then please read this book. I am so glad I did.
Date published: 2014-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great history of the French Resistance The young people who fought back when the Nazis and the Vichy took over France, tells a tale of bravery and the belief in freedom for all, is astounding. This is a book filled with history and the back ground of each women in this situation; it does tend to be very full of facts that some might find 'non essential', please do not think so - one must have the background in order to understand the reason behind why these women did what they did. This is a book many should be reading to better understand what happened during this period in time, as the saying goes, 'history has a tendency to repeat itself', so take what you learn from this book and put it into today's issues, there are similarities. I enjoyed the book - it is not one that you can read all at once, but to be digested and mulled over as you learn the why's, what and how humans can both be courageous and cruel to each other.
Date published: 2014-04-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nothing like the books description. I did not enjoy this book at all. I was expecting an uplifting story about courageous women; but instead got a history lesson and SO many names it boggled my mind and I gave up trying to keep them all straight.
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible To Stacygemma, it is disturbing in as much as one finds it incredible that another human being is capable of so much insensitivity and cruelty to another human being. The detail is not gratuitous but enough necessary detail not to leave one wondering how horrid things were. What prevails in ones mind is more admiration for the women than the cruelty of their captures. I hope you decide to read it.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A difficult book to read. The Horrors of WWII This book hooked me from the beginning and has stayed with me long after I finished. I have not read a book that gives an illustration of the lives of survivors in the years after, i found it insightful and heartbreaking. Definitely an important read.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A difficult book to read. The Horrors of WWII Tells the stories of a group of women in the French resistance during WWII, their capture by the Germans and their suffering in concentration camps. Some women were active agents in the French resistance, some sheltered people in their "safe house", while others were simply "snitched upon" by someone who held a grudge. Finally we learn of their lives after the war. An excellent read, hard to put down.
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible A most harrowing tale about life in the death camps during WWII. It is rare to find such an eloquently 'first hand' portrayal of what life was really like. About a truly inspiring group of women, who showed such courage under such awful conditions and circumstances. It portrays how circumstances created by war can bring out the very best and the very worst in people. An incredibly well written piece of work. It left me disturbed by the treatment of the guards and yet so moved and inspired by the women.
Date published: 2014-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Train in Winter This books tells The story of 200 French women who were sent to concentration camps in Germany. Some of these women were in the French resistance, others were Communist, and others were sent for no reason. There were few survivors and this is their story of women's friendship and compassion.
Date published: 2013-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye Opening Although the first part of the book is hard to get into, it becomes an amazing account of strong women who endured such heartache and unbelievable torture during World War II and lived to tell about it. It will educate you about the horrors of war. I had no idea that so many countries and so many women were affected so deeply. It will make you truly grateful for your life. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2012-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read I loved this book from the beginning. I never realized this went on in France and that france worked with the Nazi's in the 2nd workd war. I do not know how these women had the strength to live thru the hardships and the killings they seen. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2012-06-13