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The Christmas Train [Hardcover]

David Baldacci
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (420 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 4, 2002 0446525731 978-0446525732 First Edition
Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend. To finance the trip, he sells a story about a train ride taken during the Christmas season. Thereupon begins one of the most hilarious-and heartwarming-journeys ever told. Along the way, Tom encounters a ridiculous cast of characters, unexpected romance, and an avalanche that changes everyone's Christmas plans. As the mighty Southwest Chief chugs along, Tom learns what really makes the holiday special in a remarkable novel that will charm all who read it.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Recently, Baldacci has ventured with success beyond the thrillers that made his reputation, first in 2000 with the historical melodrama Wish You Well, then earlier this year with the SF mystery novella The Mighty Johns. Here's another stretch, one that he performs with good spirit, a lot of humor and only a bit of strain a Christmas charmer set aboard a cross-country train. Tom Langdon's life hasn't been the same since his all-time love, Eleanor Carter, left him years ago while the two were hotshot journalists, and since he's quit serious reporting for writing fluff. Banned from flying for a year because of an air rage incident, he's decided to write about riding the rails over the Christmas holidays, planning to link up with his erstwhile girlfriend, a Hollywood star, in L.A. Aboard the Capitol Limited, running from D.C. to Chicago, Tom meets a host of unusual fellow travelers, including rambunctious train personnel, lonely wanderers and a pair of elopers; he also runs into Eleanor, now a screenwriter for a legendary film director who's on board researching a possible film about trains. Matters complicate further aboard the Southwest Chief, running from Chicago to L.A., as Tom's Tinseltown girlfriend shows up and proposes marriage just as Tom and Eleanor are working their way back together; a sneak thief nabs valuables; and an avalanche traps the train in the midst of a historic blizzard. The narrative is loaded with cool train lore (Baldacci dedicates the book to "everyone who loves trains and holidays") and plenty of romance and good cheer, though suspense is low who can doubt how things will work out? and the author gets a bit preachy about the advantages of train travel and the lessons of Christmas. This is a more warmhearted and enjoyable novel than Grisham's comparable holiday offering last year, Skipping Christmas, and Baldacci's fans will snap it up as the Yuletide treat it is. Expect this to stuff plenty of stockings on December 25; all aboard!
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Baldacci's latest offering--a sweet holiday tale--is a departure from his last thriller, Last Man Standing (2001). Tom Langdon is a former war reporter who now writes feature articles for various magazines. Banned from flying on airplanes after a hostile incident at an airport security checkpoint, Langdon is forced to take a cross-country train from Washington, D.C., to L.A., where his girlfriend is waiting to spend Christmas with him. As he begins talking to the passengers and staff aboard the train, he meets an eccentric older woman who seems to be a regular rider, a young couple preparing to marry on the train, and a former Catholic priest. To Tom's shock, the former love of his life, Eleanor, is also aboard the train. Sparks fly between them, bringing up old feelings along with the unresolved issues from their relationship. Tom realizes this might be his second chance with Eleanor, but a series of unexpected events may derail his plans. This latest Baldacci might not appeal to all of the fans who lap up his fast-paced thrillers, but the heartwarming holiday story might win him new fans who enjoy seasonal tales. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446525731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446525732
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (420 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,570,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Baldacci made a big splash on the literary scene with the publication of his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER. A major motion picture adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 27 novels, all of which have been national and international bestsellers; several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print worldwide. David has also published four novels for children.

David received his Bachelor's degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

While David is involved with several philanthropic organizations, his greatest efforts are dedicated to his family's Wish You Well Foundation®. Established by David and his wife, Michelle, the Wish You Well Foundation supports family and adult literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs. In 2008 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, more than 1 million new and used books have been collected and distributed via area food banks.

David and his family live in Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Christmas Story November 7, 2002
Here we have a delightful holiday love story with "SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" written all over it. It has all of the ingredients: the lure and lore of transcontinental train travel; Christmas music; humor; romance; mystery; a huge snow storm (read "special effects"); a cast of pleasantly interesting characters; and an ending chock full of surprises. What's not to like?
The story itself has been well outlined by the reviewer, and it is a good story well told. It contains no foul language, no overt sex, and no violence. The novel's' secondary characters are almost uniformly well-intentioned, friendly, blessed with common sense and politically correct. (The workers on the train all work hard, love their jobs and always know what to do; the "wheelchair lady" has MS but "never lets it get her down" and "is full of good spirits despite her disability"; etc.; etc.) All of the secondary characters, that is, except for the lawyer who is utterly despicable, and who quickly gets his comeuppance!! The main characters, of course, have predictable minor flaws (like Tom Langdon's anger, which usually surfaces when an injustice is about to be done), but we never doubt that they are all fundamentally "good" people. In short, there is nothing in this novel that would ever initiate a "letter to the publisher" by a distraught reader (except, perhaps, by the Bar Association). Although none of this is bad in itself (this IS a Christmas story, after all), I found myself wishing that Tom had been more like Philip Marlowe and less like Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life". I think it would have made this a much more interesting story with a much more powerful ending.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of Christmas and The Romance of Train Travel January 4, 2003
If you are looking for a light, feel-good read that reaffirms the magic of Christmas and the fact that sometimes long-deferred dreams do come true, this is the book for you. Author David Baldacci shows us quite clearly that it's not the destination that matters, but how you enjoy the journey.
Tom Langdon sets off on a cross-country train trip at Washington, D.C. and plans to arrive in L.A. for Christmas. Having reached middle age, it is time to do some soul-searching and rethinking of life goals, and what better place than the peaceful journey a train can provide. As one of the characters so succintly tells our hero, "....most folk who ride trains could care less where they're going. For them it's the journey itself and the people they meet along the way...they're looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to. People don't rush on a train, because that's not what trains are for."
What Tom does encounter is a less than peaceful situation plus a mix of interesting characters. A Christmas Eve avalanche, an on-board wedding, people who are not who they say they are, a ghost from the past, and a lot of Amtrak trivia will keep you interested as you travel cross-country on Tom's trip of self-examination. Some may call the ending predictable, but a very clever twist took me completely by surprise and made the journey even more interesting in retrospect.
This isn't great literature but it is an entertaining holiday read that makes this reader want to call Amtrak immediately to board the next train out of town. Great fun that I'm glad I found under my Christmas tree this year!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like Holiday Candy... January 20, 2003
...maybe it's not nutritiously substantial, but it sure is tasty!
David Baldacci's The Christmas Train is a light-hearted tale that clips along at a jolly pace, much like the vehicle that carries its eclectic cast of characters. The ensemble hails from just about every temperment and every walk of life, and though they're not terribly "deep", they are interesting to watch. Much like one's travels in reality, Baldacci brings the group (with us) together, allows us to see their initial facades, and in some cases digs a little deeper. For spice, he adds a splash of intrigue to the story in the form of a none-too-complicated mystery. It's a fun diversion, but the story's focal point remains interpersonal interplay.
One truly refreshing aspect of this book is the complete absence of any objectionable material - the book could be easily rated G (or stretch to a PG for one honeymooning couple). It's nice to know there are authors who can write an enjoyable novel without heavy doses of profanity, sex, or violence. Who wants to read about that stuff at Christmastime anyway? ;-)
Worth the ride, The Christmas Train provides the reader with a warm holiday treat!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Christmas miracles! November 27, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We all have things we enjoy at Christmas - watching a particular Christmas movie, decorating a tree or other traditions. Reading The Christmas Train will be one addition to my Christmas traditions that will truly put me "in the mood" for Christmas. The story is wonderfully told, with likable, realistic characters that become dear and familiar by the end of the book, with action, humor, mystery, suspense, and tears that kept me completely enthralled from the beginning of the book to its stunning end. Some books you can predict what will happen next. Not this one! Though the reader may have hopes for what will happen next, there are no guarantees, and there are many wonderful surprises in store! Tom Langdon, an investigative reporter who has covered wars, won 2 Pulitzer prizes and has reverted to writing fluff because he is so depressed about not being able to change the world for the better, has decided to take a train trip across the U.S. to fulfill one of his dead father's requests, and to meet his girlfriend Lelia in LA. Tom doesn't really love Lelia; he just has found a comfortable companionship with her - they don't even live together, they just see each other every now and then. Tom's true love, Eleanor (Ellie), has been lost to him some years ago, and Tom isn't really sure what happened between the two of them - he just knows that not marrying Ellie was the worst mistake of his life. Imagine his surprise, then, to discover that Eleanor is on the same train as he is, working as a film writer for Max Powers, a very successful movie director. When Max and Tom bump into one another, Max has a great idea - he suggests that Tom and Eleanor work on writing the "train movie" together. Eleanor wants no part of it, but Max Powers always gets his way! Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Take the Plane Next Time
I expected a serious crime novel. What I found was a Hallmark Hall of Fame romp related by a wise-cracking protagonist. Read more
Published 2 days ago by J. Irvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Train
One of my favorite books by David Baldacci!

It's full of heartwarming scenes and twists and turns in the plot to keep you turning the pages. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Kheng87
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
I love David Baldacci's books and this one did not disappoint. Right up there with one summer and wish you well.
Published 17 days ago by martha swaim
5.0 out of 5 stars the chrismas train
I enjoyed this book very much, David Baldacci is an interesting writer. Keeps you wanting to keep turning the pages till you get to the end.
Published 20 days ago by gert jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
I usually read mysteries - this book captured that. There's always a twist around the corner on this book. A real page turner
Published 24 days ago by Minou
5.0 out of 5 stars Twists and Turns
The Christmas Train twist and turns so many ways. You think you know but you don't know anything even the very surprising ending.
Published 28 days ago by Melanie C. Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Liked the book a lot. Not your typical Baldacci book, but this one stood out a lot also. Glad to have tried it
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Sandi C.
1.0 out of 5 stars Barely any excitement
Would not recommend this book to anyone. I read The Simple Truth 10+ years ago and so I was excited to pick up another David Baldacci book. Very disappointing. No suspense at all.
Published 1 month ago by Prithviraj Sharan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Christmas Train
I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventure, love, a little mystery, second chances, and Christmas all rolled up into a nice package!
Published 1 month ago by Georgann Templeton
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like trains...
While this won't qualify as great literature, it was a fun-to-read book, especially if you have ever been on a long-distance train. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tasha
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