An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two
Written by Caroline Moorehead
Format: Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35695-6 (0-307-35695-7)
Pub Date: April 10, 2012
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1. What is the importance of women’s friendship in A Train in Winter? How is it shown, what forms does it take, and what difference does it make to the lives of the women described in the book?
2. How has this book changed your view of World War Two, the French Resistance, the role of women in wartime, or the Holocaust, or another subject discussed in the book?
3. Caroline Moorehead takes care in the book to tell individual stories. Which of these had the greatest impact on you while reading the book, and why?
4. What motives for the women’s resistance work are presented in A Train in Winter? Are their reasons the same as those of men?
5. What will you remember about A Train in Winter?
6. If you could ask one of the survivors of the Convoi des 31000 a question about her experiences, what would it be?
7. Why do you think the history discussed in A Train in Winter was buried for so long?
8. What do you think was behind “attentisme” – holding on, waiting, doing nothing – the initial French reaction to the Occupation?
9. The women of the Convoi des 31000 longed to come home from the camps – but then those few who did so found their return to be sometimes impossibly hard. Why was this the case?
10. What lessons should we learn from A Train in Winter?
11. What role did the Communist Party play in the French Resistance? How were perspectives on it altered, first by the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, and then by the German invasion of the Soviet Union?
12. Debate the issue of French collaboration with the Nazi authorities as it is described in the book. What do you think you would do, if you were placed in some of the situations Caroline Moorehead describes?
13. What do you make of the turn in recent historical writing to “microhistories” of individual moments and stories, rather than grand abstract narratives? Which kind of historical writing do you prefer, and why?
14. If you could invite Caroline Moorehead to your book club discussion, what would you like to ask her about A Train in Winter, and why?
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