I was first introduced to Chanel Cleeton and the Perez sisters through a friend and colleague who adores historical fiction. I’m pretty hit or miss with historical fiction–but I really enjoyed the first book I read in the series–When We Left Cuba–so I was excited to see a previous book, Next Year in Havana, in the Audible Plus Catalog! It ended up taking me TEN days to listen to it though, so I feel like I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but it was still a nice, four-star read for me.
Told in dual timelines (aka: my weakness), this is the story of two women: Marisol, a 30-something year old journalist traveling to Cuba for the first time to spread her grandmother’s ashes, and that grandmother, Elisa, as a girl in the late 1950s watching Cuba change and falling in love with a revolutionary. As Marisol explores Cuba on her own and finds her own love story with the tempting, but seemingly married grandson of her grandmother’s childhood best friend she learns that some things in Cuba have changed–and some have not. We flash back and forth between her present day story and the life of her grandmother at 19 as Marisol learns about her and who she truly is. Buried letters in the backyard, secret trysts, and political warfare–it’s all there, for them both.
I really enjoyed this book, but I have to say I enjoyed Marisol’s chapters more. Elisa’s were fine–some of them great–but I felt less compelled by them since I knew what would happen (kind of the problem with historical fiction I know). I think it did a good job of balancing the two perspectives though, and if I had read it before When We Left Cuba I might have enjoyed it even more! I’ll definitely be checking out the other book in the series–The Last Train to Key West–before the new book, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba comes out in the Spring!