So I spent most of the day yesterday reading Next Year in Havana. I know, I know, I know… I did mean to do more with my day but then I just kept thinking one more chapter and then after that chapter one more chapter and before I knew it, I’d finished! And now I have a serious book hangover!
Yes, I’m sure you can guess…
I loved Next Year in Havana, and I’m not the only one. This is Reese Witherspoon’s July pick for her book club, and crikey what a pick it is. It has everything in it; love and loss against the backdrop of Cuba’s turbulent history and politics.
I really learnt a lot reading this book. I’m not going to lie, it is pretty political and I did have to Google a few things whilst reading to help my understanding of the Cuban politics and history. But that’s one of the beauties of reading historic fiction – it educates you.
The story is juxtaposed between the Havana of the late 1950s with Cuba on the brink of revolution, and modern-day Havana following the death of Fidel Castro. It centres around two women; nineteen year old Elisa who is forced to flee Cuba during the 1959 revolution; and Marisol, Elisa’s granddaughter who returns to modern-day Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes following her death only to discover deep family secrets.
Elisa is the daughter of a sugar baron and sheltered from the political unrest sweeping her country until she falls in love with Pablo, a revolutionary close to Castro. Marisol is a Cuban-American, who grows up hearing the romantic stories of Cuba from her grandmother and clearly identifies herself as distinctly Cuban; until she experiences first-hand the personal, political and sometimes dangerous struggles of Cubans today.
Next Year in Havana is a compelling and insightful read. Yes, it does have a beautiful and romantic cover, but in my view the cover is a tad misleading as this is a hard-hitting book veiled by romanticism.
Chanel Cleeton, the author has since written a sequel When We Left Cuba which will be published in the UK in April 2019. I’m now on the hunt to get an advance copy as I’m so excited to read it; I literally can’t wait!
Thank you Chanel Cleeton for Next Year in Havana; it is a gripping read that gives the world an authentic insight on what it is to be Cuban; whether it’s a Cuban in exile; a Cuban born and brought up in another country or a Cuban living in the country today. Also thank you to Reese Witherspoon’s book club for bringing this great read to my attention.
Next Year in Havana is available now, so go and buy your copy – if you’re a fan of historic fiction, I’m sure you’ll love this book.