Updated: Sep 10
By Chanel Cleeton
Three Women of Strength and Determination Fight for Freedom
In 1896 a battle for the biggest headlines rages between the New York newspaper tycoons Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. When Grace Harrington lands a job with Hearst’s newspaper she know she has to find a big story to prove herself. It’s the story she finds in Cuba that changes her life.
Evangelina Cisneros 18, is imprisoned in Recogidas for rejecting the advances on a Spanish colonel. Evangelina becomes instantly famous as a revolutionary when Hearst’s reporters break her out of prison and bring her to the US to rally support for intervention in Cuba’s war for independence.
Marina Perez’s, home has been destroyed by the Spanish, and she and her daughter have been relocated to a reconcentration camp. Wanting to do more to help in the war, Marina smuggles vital information carefully tucked in the laundry she carries throughout the city.
Three revolutionary women struggle to find freedom, set amidst the backdrop of Cuba’s war for independence from Spain and the deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Cubans.
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is a delightful historical fiction read. The novel intriguingly captures the true story of Evangelina Cisternos, and the rivalry between Hearst and Pulitzer, Hearst’s involvement in Cisternos prison break and his use of yellow journalism which pushed the US into the war with Spain.
Chanel Cleeton’s writing is historically enlightening and dramatic. I particularly appreciated her author’s note detailing fact and fiction. She motivated me to read even more about this period. Cleeton deftly juggles multiple plot lines and keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. The characters are compelling with women of strength, determination and fortitude.
Cleeton’s other stellar Perez family novels include Next Year in Havana (2018), When We Left Cuba (2019), and The Last Train to Key West (2020).
Thanks to Berkley and Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published May 4, 2021