The Train

The Train - Georges Simenon,  Robert Baldick The Train was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Melville House Publishing.2.5 starsThe Train is a poignant novel about Marcel Feron and his pregnant wife and young daughter living the “normal” life he had always hoped for in the French suburb Ardennes. On May 10, 1940 they woke up to find that the Nazi’s were coming and they were being forced into leaving behind all that they held dear. Marcel packs his family up and they get on the train meant to take them away from the danger. Throughout the train ride Marcel relives the day when him and his wife first met, their first train ride together, and all that she represented.“For me, she was not just a woman; but the symbol of a normal regular life.”The morning of May 10, 1940 did not result in panic for Marcel, rather he had always felt that this was bound to happen, that he would be forced to leave behind everything, and that he was going to confront the “Fate” that he has been secretly awaiting for years. When he becomes separated from his wife and child he finds himself surrounded by strangers but as the train travels further away from home their faces start to become familiar to him; and that’s when he meets Anna. The panic and urgency of everyone leaving their homes and being separated from their family’s causes them to change and feel ‘outside ordinary life and its conventions.’ The affair he ends up having with Anna becomes the sole focus of the book and it seemed at first to be quite strange and peculiar, but it transpired as a result of the shock from leaving their ordinary lives behind. It may not have been acceptable under normal circumstances, but the circumstances were far from normal. He continues searching for his family but stays with Anna till the very end. It was quite sad when the two finally parted ways.“I hope you’ll be happy, Marcel. I’ve been happy with you.”The author’s writing style felt choppy and stilted. I’m not sure if this was in fact due to the author’s writing style or if it was simply because of the translation between languages. Overall, this was an interesting reflection of WWII but also of the human response to traumatic situations and the bonds that we create with individuals out of the instinctual need to grasp at life.“For the first time in my life I had said ‘I love you’ like that, from the depths of my heart. Perhaps it wasn’t she that I loved, but life?”Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

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