The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba [Book Review]

May 3, 2021

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (cover) Image: a young woman stands next to a railing looking out over a harbor

Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Cuba

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks to #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for a complimentary eARC of #TheMostBeautifulGirlInCuba upon my request. All opinions are my own.

The real-life circumstances of Evangelina Cisneros (“the most beautiful girl in Cuba”), the Cuban fight for Independence, and a feud between two New York newspapers owned by Hearst and Pulitzer are at the center of this fascinating historical fiction story of 1896 Cuba and its revolution. The story transpires from three perspectives: Grace Harrington, a young woman breaking the glass ceiling in the cutthroat newspaper business; eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros, unjustly imprisoned in Cuba; Marina Perez, a brave courier working secretly for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana. With the help of Hearst’s newspaper and Marina, who had been forced into a Cuban reconcentration camp, Evangelina is rescued from prison and Grace travels to Cuba and writes the story of women who suffer from wrongful imprisonment.

Evangelina Cisneros

Evangelina Cisneros (photo source: Wikipedia)

My Thoughts:

Characters: All three women are well-drawn and remarkable women with strong voices, and I enjoyed rooting for each of them. I especially enjoyed Grace, the newspaper reporter. Grace is determined, gritty, and courageous. I love that she wants a different life than her “Society” family heritage would have easily afforded her. It is lovely that Grace has a side of (slow burn) romance in this story, too! I love learning about Evangelina and how she was the brains behind her real-life prison escape and how she was able to tolerate being “the most beautiful girl in Cuba” and used for political clout. Marina is also admirable for the risks she took and for her love of Cuba and commitment to independence for the people.

Themes: I love the thoughtful themes of freedom, independence, meaningful life’s work/following your passion, taking risks to help others, women’s strong voices, and the influence of newspapers in politics and war.

Setting and History: Chanel Cleeton puts the history in histfic with this well-researched story and I’m here for it! I loved learning more about the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban people. It made me sad to think that after the revolution they would shortly be governed by Castro and under communism.

Recommended: I’m highly recommending The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba for fans of compelling and well-written historical fiction; for readers who love stories of strong, independent women; for those who have connections with Cuba; and for book clubs. There’s a lot to discuss here!

Also by Cleeton: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

My Rating:  4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)

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The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (cover) Image: a young woman in a long white dress stands next to a railing looking out over the ocean

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba Information Here

Meet the Author, Chanel Cleeton

Author Chanel CleetonOriginally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London, and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.


Is The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba on your TBR or have you read it?

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. The synopsis makes this sound a lot more interesting than the cover suggests it will be. I’m afraid that’s the kind of artwork that is a turn off for me

  2. I have read and/or listened to three of her books and loved them all. I am looking forward to this one and hoping that it comes out on audio soon. Excellent review Carol.

  3. If I had stuck with the cover & title on this it didn’t sound that appealing… The synopsis and your review changed my mind

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  5. I enjoyed reading your review, Carol. The title is very familiar to me. I think I checked it our of the library but never got to read it. Your review makes me want to add it to my TBR again… or maybe it’s been buried in that list for several years!

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