On an icy dawn morning in Paris in January 1943, a group of 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; there were among them teachers, biochemists, sales girls, secretaries, housewives and university lecturers.
The women turned to one another, finding solace and strength in friendship and shared experience. They supported and cared for one another, worked together, and faced the horror together. Friendship, almost as much as luck, dictated survival. Forty-nine of them came home.
Caroline Moorehead's breathtaking new book is the story of these women - the first time it has been told. It is about who they were, how and why they joined the resistance, how they were captured by the French police and the Gestapo, their journey to Auschwitz and their daily life in the death camps - and about what it was like for the survivors when they returned to France. A Train in Winter covers a harrowing part of our history but is, ultimately, a portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and endurance, and of friendship.
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It is a harrowing book, not always easy to read, with two dozen or more main characters to follow; but it is fascinating, and important. - The Independent
This serious and heartfelt book does deliver on its promise of a tale of how female friendship 'can make the difference between living and dying'...profound - Sunday Times
A harrowing but also uplifting story of shared story of friendship, courage and endurance. - Independent, Books of the Year
A story of stunning courage, generosity and hope. They risked their lives to defeat Fascism, by printing subversive literature, hiding Jewish friends or, in the case of one girl, simply insulting a French youth because he had decided to co-operate with the Nazis. The price they paid for their bravery was terrible. A Train in Winter could have been a sad, almost morbid book. In Moorhead's expert hands it is a triumphant one. - Mail on Sunday
Compassionate, meticulous and compulsively enthralling...this book is essential reading. - Daily Mail
A multiple biography and a detailed anatomy of the nature of friendship... A Train in Winter is a powerful and moving book; its significance is in bringing to a wider, non-French readership the particular and terrible fate of a group of women whose only crime was to love their country and to wish to do something to defend it, at a time when its government chose craven obedience to the occupier, with terrible consequences for so many of its people. - Times Literary Supplement
A clear sighted, distressing and unforgettable book. - The Lady
It is an exceptional achievement on the author's part to have reconstructed these obscure lives that so often ended in sordid misery and to have restored their dignity and honour. - Literary Review, Patrick Marnham, January 2012
A boom which contains a wealth of historical information as well as some brilliant if horrific storytelling. - Spectator
An outstanding and important book, compelling and deeply troubling. - Country Life
A remarkable achievement of biographical and oral research and with a brilliant narrative and description. - History Today
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. Her most recent book, Dancing to the Precipice, a biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award in 2009. Caroline lives in London.