Book Review - The Last Train to Key West

The Last Train to Key West
author: Chanel Cleeton
genre: Historical Fiction
release date: June 16, 2020
format with page count: paperback/320 pages

from Goodreads –
In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel.

Chanel Cleeton is an author who never disappoints. After reading When We Left Cuba and Next Year in Havana, I was eager to dive into her latest book, The Last Train to Key West. Chanel’s characters, settings, and historical references make each story come to life. Her writing style is one that carries the reader into another world effortlessly.

The Last Train to Key West is told in three voices. Mirta Perez is from a once prestigious Cuban family whose standing changed with the new government. She agrees to an arranged marriage in order to provide security for her loved ones. On her honeymoon in Key West and later Matecumbe Key, she learns more about her new husband – an American mobster. She is not sure this is a way of life she can accept. Elizabeth Preston is a former NYC socialite whose family lost everything during the Wall Street crash. Her father and brother are both dead and her mother is unable to cope, so it is up to Elizabeth to save herself. Engaged to be married to a man she does not love, she sets out on a journey to find a certain person’s help. At first, we think it is a lover but then come to find out the connection runs much deeper. She plans to search the camps that house veterans from the Great War, unfazed by the inherent danger. A stranger comes to her aid, a man who seems to have many secrets, and Elizabeth is not convinced she should trust him. Helen Berner is a native of Key West. She married young but her nine years of marriage have proven to be anything but easy. Her husband is a commercial fisherman who drinks too much and becomes abusive. Nearly nine months pregnant, she decides she has to leave him. All of these storylines take place against the backdrop of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

This story moves quickly as the tension builds. Each woman experiences the storm differently even as situations cause all three lives to overlap. The way that Cleeton intertwines each part is perfection. This is definitely a book not to be missed.

For more on the Great Hurricane, read this story from Florida Today.
For more about Chanel Cleeton, check out her website here.

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