Publisher: Berkley + Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: May 04, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history.
A feud rages in Gilded Age New York City between newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. When Grace Harrington lands a job at Hearst’s newspaper in 1896, she’s caught in a cutthroat world where one scoop can make or break your career, but it’s a story emerging from Cuba that changes her life.
Unjustly imprisoned in a notorious Havana women’s jail, eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros dreams of a Cuba free from Spanish oppression. When Hearst learns of her plight and splashes her image on the front page of his paper, proclaiming her, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” she becomes a rallying cry for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence.
With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana, Grace and Hearst’s staff attempt to free Evangelina. But when Cuban civilians are forced into reconcentration camps and the explosion of the USS Maine propels the United States and Spain toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom.
I am definitely one of those readers who loves books based on true stories, and that probably made me enjoy The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton even more. I didn’t know anything about Evangelina Cisneros and very little about the battle for Cuban independence before reading this, and I found it both fascinating and incredibly informational (especially the author’s note at the end). I love reading about the Gilded Age in New York and was very impressed with the way Cleeton tied her three main characters together. I started keeping notes in the notepad on my phone so I wouldn’t miss anything about the three women, and I am really glad I did that. The book is told from the viewpoints of Evangelina, a journalist named Grace in New York, and Marina who is living in a reconcentration camp in Havana. Each of these women were strong, motivated, and fought for what is right which are qualities I love in my female leads.
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba really brought Havana to life for me, and while there are some parts that are definitely hard to read, nothing is overly gruesome or descriptive. I was expecting it to tug at my heartstrings a bit more, but overall this was still an emotional read that brings alive the fight for freedom in Cuba back in the late 1800s. This was my first time reading a book by Cleeton, but it will certainly not be my last, and I highly recommend the audiobook to you audio fans out there. I listened to the last half of the book and wished I could have listened to the entire thing since it was done so well. It was a full cast with Frankie Corzo, Holly Linneman & Rebecca Soler narrating each of the three women, and they each did such an amazing job.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.