May 3, 2021
Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Cuba
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
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 (photo sourse: Wikipedia)
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)
Meet the Author, Chanel Cleeton
Originally 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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