Warner, Nov 2002, 19.95, 258 pp.
When Eleanor Carter was with Tom Langdon, he was a rising hotshot journalist who cared about his work and her. When she left him for the glitter of Hollywood as a screenwriter, he lost focus and turned into a fluff reporter. Banned from flying, Tom takes the rails from DC to Los Angeles to see his girlfriend, a voice-over actress, for Christmas. To pass the boring time, he plans to write an article on traveling cross-country by train.
Tom meets several of his fellow passengers, but hears that a Hollywood group is also on board but staying incognito to avoid the media. However, Tom soon learns that Eleanor is among the Hollywood band. Shockingly (maybe not it is a Xmas story), her current director persuades Tom and Eleanor to work together on a project with him. If Tom can work with Eleanor who he still loves and wants back in his life permanently, his career will regain the momentum it lost when her departure sent him spinning into a state of inertia.
Though the small levels of suspense seem contrived, this holiday romance is a fun tale filled with solid characters, especially the lead protagonists, and plenty of train lore. The story line is at its best when Tom and Eleanor take center stage, as both appear so real that the audience will believe they shared a train ride with both of them. Most of the other passengers provide humor so that those fans of warm Yuletide tales will take delight in David Baldacci's engaging by the fireside amiable tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner