A Train in Winter

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Title: A Train in Winter
Subtitle: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
Author: Caroline Moorehead
Pages: 384
Publisher: Harper (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: November 8, 2011

For this book I'm including the publisher's synopsis (from bn.com):
They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 women active in the French Resistance and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.

A Train in Winter draws on interviews and deep archival research to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survival—and of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.

I chose to use the publisher's synopsis because I'll admit I wasn't able to get all the way through this so I wasn't sure what the best way to describe it was. I initially had my review date extended because I had difficulty with time and getting to the book. But I had plenty of time since then and found I just could not maintain interest in the book. Even though the overall story was interesting with this one, I got bogged down with all the details.I found myself confused often because of the number of people described along with all the French names (obviously that's no one's fault!)  

The story of the occupation of the French and the various reactions of the people was interesting. However, the real part of the story in the latter portion of the book, the human aspect of this story, was what I was interested in. I had so much difficulty slogging through the beginning, and I had seen other reviews discussing the second portion of the book that eventually I skipped ahead. The writing didn't necessarily change so much, but the story was what I was drawn to. One of the draws, for me, to this book as the aspect of the friendships and human bonds created through such horrifying situations. But relating in that way also made those portions very difficult to read as well.

I do think this book told an important story about a group of women, and I wish I could have gotten more into it. Even with the portions of the book I did get into, however, I didn't feel I could commit fully since I had not fully read every part of the book up to that point (maybe my own issue). Therefore, I do think my fascination of the stories was somewhat hampered. I do think that had I read this at another point in the past year when I had much more brain energy to put into the book, I would have enjoyed it much more so those of you who have the brain energy, you'll probably like A Train in Winter. But if you aren't totally and thoroughly interested in the subject, I might recommend passing on it.
Catch up on the rest of the tour here:

Tuesday, November 8th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, November 10th: Melody & Words
Friday, November 11th: Elle Lit.
Monday, November 14th: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, November 16th: Among Stories
Wednesday, November 16th: Unabridged Chick - author interview
Thursday, November 17th: Broken Teepee
Friday, November 18th: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms
Monday, November 21st: Jenny Loves to read
Tuesday, November 22nd: Picky Girl
Monday, November 28th: Reviews by Lola
Tuesday, November 29th: Buried in Print
Wednesday, November 30th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, December 2nd: Wordsmithonia
Friday, December 2nd: Books and Movies


bermudaonion said...

Most of the reviews I've read have said the same thing you did. It's a story that needs to be told but there were far too many characters.

Zibilee said...

If you want to read a similar story that is much more cohesive and concise, I would recommend Resistance by Agnes Humbert. That story moved me so much, and even three years later, I remember so much about it. I am not sure if this is a subject that you want to read more on, but if you do, it's a great book to get into.

Like Kathy, I have heard this book is difficult, and have sort of lost interest in it due to the reviews I have seen. It seems like there is a lot going on, and a lot of people to keep track of. Thanks for providing your honest opinion of it.

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

If there are too many characters, I have a hard time getting into a book. I need to feel invested in the characters. I can understand why you had a hard time with this one.

Jennifer said...

I am fascinated by this part of history. But I know where you are coming from -- reading books like this takes a lot of brain energy. I'm guessing that if you come back to this book at another time in your life you might enjoy it more.

I will keep it in mind for when I have the brain energy to pull it off. I am definitely interested in the stories that this book tells. The synopsis had me very interested.

Jennifer @ www.justicejennifer.com

Ti said...

Sounds like too much is going on in this one. At least you gave it a good shot. Sometimes a book just doesn't click, no matter how much time you give it.

Laura's Reviews said...

I like your honest review. It does sound like an interesting subject, but I can see how it could get bogged down with too many characters.

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