A Train in Winter
An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
By Caroline Moorehead
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061650703, 384pp.)
Publication Date: November 2011
They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled "V" for victory on the walls of her lycÉe; the eldest, a farmer's wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.
Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women 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, education, 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 with these women and their families; German, French, and Polish archives; and documents held by World War II resistance organizations to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survivaland of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.
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 an acclaimed book about refugees, Human Cargo. Her previous book was Dancing to the Precipice, a biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin. She lives in London and Italy.
?eoeBy turns heartbreaking and inspiring.?e
-Caroline Weber, New York Times Book Review
?eoe[A] moving novelistic portrait. . . . An inspiring and fascinating read.?e
-Meredith Maran, People (3? stars)
?eoeAn extremely moving and intensely personal history of the Auschwitz universe as experienced by these women. . . . A powerful and moving book.?e
-Natasha Lehrer, Times Literary Supplement (UK)
?eoe[Moorehead] traces the lives and deaths of all her subjects with unswerving candor and compassion. . . . In Moorehead?e(TM)s telling, neither evil nor good is banal; and if the latter doesn?e(TM)t always triumph, it certainly inspires.?e
-Elysa Gardner, USA Today
?eoeAs chronicled by Moorehead with unblinking accuracy, their agonies are appalling to contemplate, their stories of survival and friendship under duress enthralling to hear.?e
?eoeHaunting account of bravery, friendship, and endurance.?e
?eoeCompelling . . . Moorehead weaves into her suspenseful, detailed narrative myriad personal stories of friendship, courage, and heartbreak.?e
?eoeHeightened by electrifying, and staggering, detail, Moorehead?e(TM)s riveting history stands as a luminous testament to the indomitable will to survive and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.?e
-Booklist (starred review)
?eoeEven history?e(TM)s darkest moments can be illuminated by spectacular courage, such as courage that Caroline Moorehead movingly celebrates in A Train in Winter. . . . Moorehead has created a somber account, sensitively rendered, of yet another grim legacy of war.?e
-Judith Chettle, Richmond Times-Dispatch
?eoeThe first complete account of these extraordinary women and, incredibly, over 60 years later we are still learning new and terrible truths about the Holocaust. . . . An important new perspective. . . . Careful research and sensitive retelling.?e
-Buzzy Jackson, Boston Sunday Globe
?eoeA necessary book. . . . Compelling and moving. . . . The literature of wartime France and the Holocaust is by now so vast as to confound the imagination, but when a book as good as this comes along, we are reminded that there is always room for something new.?e
-Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
?eoeAs Moorehead delves deeply into the women?e(TM)s fight for survival, her narrative seamlessly comes together in order to share a significant part of history whose time has come to be heard.?e
-Meganne Fabrega, Christian Science Monitor
?eoeA miraculous story about friendship and the will to overcome extraordinary cruelty, heartache and loss.?e
-The Jewish Journal, "Best Books of 2011"