The power of a family saga: When We Left Cuba

You may recall that last summer I reviewed Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana (a Reese Witherspoon book club pick). Set against the backdrop of Cuba’s turbulent political history, this was also one of my top reads of last year. So you can imagine how desperate I was to read the next book in the series, When We Left Cuba.

Dare I say it, I think the second book in this gripping family series is even better than the first!

Although it was published in April of this year I chose my recent summer holiday as the ideal time to read When We Left Cuba so I could have the opportunity to really savour it. And believe me, savour it I did! 🙂


When We Left Cuba continues the story of the Perez family who were forced to flee their home country following the Cuban revolution. This is the story of passionate and headstrong Beatriz Perez as it explores the turbulent Cuban-American relations of the 1960s.

The novel portrays how Cubans just like Beatriz who were forced to flee their home country during the 1959 revolution fought to reclaim the country back, and the tense role this played on the world stage. During the 1960s the CIA in America developed plots to assassinate Fidel Castro involving one of his greatest weaknesses – beautiful women.

In When We Left Cuba, consumed by her hatred for Castro, Beatriz is recruited by the CIA. She wants to kill Fidel Castro herself for what he has done to her family and holds him responsible for the murder of her twin brother.

Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs and the assassination of President Kennedy, When We Left Cuba is a powerful and fascinating read; it is a real page turner. It is also full of mystique and glamour, a reflection of the mystique and glamour that surrounded the Kennedy administration.

In writing such a gripping novel with such a strong and headstrong protagonist, Chanel Cleeton has yet again given us historic fiction at its best.

I’m so pleased to report that When We Left Cuba isn’t the last book in the Perez family series. 🙂 When I finished reading it, I immediately tweeted Chanel Cleeton to thank her for such a fantastic read. I also asked her if she had plans to write more in the family series. She replied telling me that Beatriz’s aunt’s story is coming in 2020! I can’t wait!

In the meantime I urge you to read When We Left Cuba. It is gripping, powerful and so informative. It’s brilliant!

Happy reading everyone! 😊

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