Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Penguin/Berkley | February 6, 2018
After reading Chanel Cleeton’s Wild Aces series, the author was already on my radar, but when I was notified of her next book I debated on whether or not I’d request an ARC. (I am trying to limit them, remember.) I resisted until I saw the cover. The beautiful colors and image was what made Next Year in Havana so irresistible to me. It’s stunning, and it really suits the Cuban setting! This is exceptional cover art marketing.
I’ve only read the one other series (Wild Aces) by Cleeton, but if that was indicative of her usual work, then I have to say Next Year in Havana is a big departure. Wild Aces was romance heavy, which was exactly what you’d expect from a modern day romance novel. When the information went around for Next Year in Havana, despite the beautiful cover and the ‘historical fiction’ tag, I expected more of the same. I was more than pleasantly surprised when it ended up being so much more!
It did have romance, but it wasn’t the focus of the story. Next Year in Havana is a story told in two parts. There’s Elisa’s story in 1958, and what caused her to become exiled in the US. Then, there’s Marisol’s story which takes place in 2017. She’s Elisa’s granddaughter and she’s visiting Cuba present day to take her grandma’s ashes home. Both women find love which was nice, but it was the depth of history and emotion about Cuba that really sold Next Year in Havana for me.
Prior to reading this story I had very minimal knowledge of Cuba’s history. We all know the evils of Fidel, and my mother has talked about the evils in Cuba prior to Fidel, but it wasn’t until I finished Next Year in Havana that I really got it. I was entrenched in the history, and obviously I think it was so easy to fall into because we were able to empathize with these two very strong women from two very different times.
There will be a follow up to Next Year in Havana, titled When We Left Cuba, and I’m intrigued. I’m definitely interested to see if a second installment can capture the same beauty, so you can bet I’ll be first in line if/when ARC’s go out.
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