The 5:45 to Cannes. It links northern Italy with the French Riviera while running like a thread through lives that touch one another in unexpected and often secret ways: Chazz, the heir to a great fortune, suffers debilitating mood swings that threaten his once-perfect marriage. GianCarlo, a kindhearted young Italian, looks for a way out of the life of thievery he leads with his impoverished and orphaned brothers. Anais feels the insults of old age too acutely when her beloved son marries a woman who seems to despise her. Sophie, a talented young photographer reeling from the sudden death of her family, finds herself vulnerable to the pangs of a lovesick heart. And then there is the accident—if in truth it is an accident—that joins each of these lives to the others in ways both profound and mundane. At the center we find beautiful, bereaved Claudette, wife of the doomed Chazz, taking the eponymous train to Cannes where she, like all the others, remembers her past and draws from it irresolvable feelings of strength and fragility, meaning and emptiness, permanence and loss.
In these stories, Tess Uriza Holthe peers deeply into the inner lives of these women and men, while evoking with sensual grace the richness of the land and culture they share: the time-stopping quality of an exquisite and leisurely meal taken at a tiny ristorante in an unmapped village; the salty breeze that wafts through the open bedroom window of an elegant chateau by the sea; the pulse of life at the festival in Rapallo, in the bullrings of Pamplona, and on the streets of Cannes when the movie people have gone. Sad and lovely, often at the same time, The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes takes us to places where we are happy to linger, in the world and in the human heart.
From the Hardcover edition.