The Train, By Georges Simenon


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Georges Simenon is probably best known for three things: creating Commissaire Maigret of the Paris police; penning over 400 novels; and apparently sleeping with 10,000 women. Le Train, first published in 1961 (later translated by Robert Baldick), is considered to be one of the most accomplished of the author's roman durs.

Set at the outbreak of war, the narrator is a loner who against the odds has made a normal life for himself in the Ardennes.

When the Germans invade he has to abandon his home and repair shop. Separated from his pregnant wife in the rush, he joins a freight car of refugees and there meets a sad looking girl in a black dress.

A brief period of sexual experimentation opens up, but the affair's dénouement is characteristically chilling.