Author: Georges Simenon
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: 12th July 2011 (1964)
Format: E-book - PDF
Genre: Literary FictionSource: ARC from NetGalley
Against all expectations Marcel Féron has made a “normal” life in a bucolic French suburb in the Ardennes. But on May 10, 1940, as Nazi tanks approach, this timid, happy man must abandon his home and confront the “Fate” that he has secretly awaited. Separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter in the chaos of flight, he joins a freight car of refugees hurtling southward ahead of the pursuing invaders. There, he meets Anna, a sad-looking, dark- haired girl, whose accent is “neither Belgian nor German,” and who “seemed foreign to everything around her.” As the mystery of Anna’s identity is gradually revealed, Marcel leaps from the heights of an exhilarating freedom to the depths of a terrifying responsibility— one that will lead him to a blood-chilling choice. (Goodreads Synopsis)
This is an intriguing piece that at times feels claustrophobic as we follow the journey of Marcel, a man trying to escape from the approaching Germans.
The style of the writing is rather internalised, drawing the reader into the world of the people in the train carriage. We see right into Marcel's thoughts from the very first sentence and we never leave his side for the rest of the novel.
The pacing was steady, but never plodding, and, while a number of major events do take place in the story, it is more a character study than an action-driven piece.
The prose in this piece is at times poetic and yet retains a realism that makes the end of the novella all the more stark and shocking.
This book would suit lovers of literary fiction who are looking for a quick and easy read to while away an evening, but who also want something to think about as they turn the final page.