#bookreview The Christmas Train by David Baldacci published by Pan Books

Synopsis:

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to LA in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight ‘misunderstanding’ at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic.

He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, where he will rediscover people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

My reading experience:

The author skilfully onboards the reader into the story as Tom Langdon, jaded award winning journalist, boards the train to get to LA for Christmas. He’s writing a story but also trying to figure out his life. His so-called girlfriend awaits him at his destination, but he has 3000 miles to find himself first.

The author does a great literary manoeuvre where he introduces characters as his main protagonist, Tom, meets people walking around the train. I really loved this. Tom is dry, witty, sociable and as he tries to make sense of what seems like a huge coincidence, he digs deep into his bitter heart, and finds some joy.

This is the tale of a 3000 mile cross country rail trip by way of two trains – the Capitol Limited from Washington to Chicago, and then the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles. Along the journey there are some not out of place astute observations about the ‘greeness’ of rail travel and how it provides the human condition with the opportunity for repose in a world that demands speed. “It’s been my experience that most folks who ride trains could care less about where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way.” A bit like reading a book …

This will definitely become an annual Christmas read for me. I highly recommend The Christmas Train by David Baldacci.

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