When We Left Cuba: Book summary and reviews of When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba

by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton X
When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
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Book Summary

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life - and heart - to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez - her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future - but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything - not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

Paperback original

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Media Reviews

"A beautiful and utterly transporting novel."—Publisher's Weekly

"Oozing with atmosphere and intrigue, When We Left Cuba is an evocative, powerful and beautifully written historical novel which had me completely captivated from the first page to the last. Take a bow, Chanel Cleeton!" - Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

"Rich in historic detail, When We Left Cuba has it all - the excitement of a page-turning thriller, the sizzle of a steamy romance and the elegant prose of a master storyteller." - Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

"A compelling unputdownable story of love - for a man, for a country, for a past ripped away, and a future's tenuous promise. When We Left Cuba swept me away." - Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach.

"Beatriz Perez's brand of vintage-Havana glamour dazzles with equal parts intrigue, rebellion, and romance to make for an unforgettable story." - Elise Hooper, author of The Other Alcott

"When We Left Cuba is a breathtaking book, and it captures what I love best about historical fiction." - Camille Di Maio, author of The Way of Beauty

This information about When We Left Cuba was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The interweaving of true historical events and fictional characters made for a great read. I wanted to pick it up again; and when I did it was uncomplicated and easy to do. Characters are well developed and realistic. Plot is believable. I was a child at the time but remember most events. And have many Cuban friends who will attest to its authenticity.

Carol P. (Tuscaloosa, AL)

First rate page turner
"When We Left Cuba: A Novel" is an excellent companion piece to Chanel Cleeton's previous novel, "Next Year in Havana", although it easily stands alone. The first person narrator, Beatriz, is embroiled in the emotions and politics of wealthy Palm Beach Cubans in 1960 who have been forced to leave everything behind in Havana, including the grave of her beloved twin brother, a casualty of Castro's revolution. The story offers an accurate and nuanced description of the political and social passions at work, interwoven with a compelling romance. Rich material for numerous discussions by a book group!

As a reader who enjoys strong women characters – bright, determined, not a victim or damsel in distress – Beatriz resonated and held my respect and interest. Cleeton's writing is well-paced, producing a first rate page turner. This is no mean feat, given that the broad outlines of history are well known. I enjoyed every page and will recommend it to my friends who love an unusual and unpredictable reading adventure.

Susan B. (Hahira, GA)

The 60s
For those of us who grew up in the 60s in the days of Kennedy, Khrushchev, Batista, Che and Fidel this book will bring back many memories...For those of us who grew up in Miami or even the Northeast, where many flew to avoid the wrath of the revolution, this will bring back many memories.

Ms. Cleeton introduced readers to the Perez family in Next Year in Havana and now tells the tale of another of the daughters and the family's secrets. The intrigues of the revolution and those that were disappointed by it and how they were used by others with different agendas are illustrated with a depth of understanding that those that don't remember or never knew will find compelling.

This is a wonderful book for a book club and I encourage others to read it.

Amy M. (Rawlins, WY)

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
I was excited to read this book. Thank you for allowing my to give a first impression. I love historical novels. I received this book before the holidays so it did take me a little time before I could read it. Once I started this book I found it hard to put down! I thought it was beautifully written I loved the characters especially Beatriz. I loved how strong she was and how dedicated she was to her family and her country. It did not end how I thought it would, but I loved it! I want to go back and read her first novel about this family. I am looking forward to having our book club read this novel when it is my turn to choose the book later this year.

LadyJ’s Bookish Nook

Excellent Historical Fiction
I am so glad I chose to review When We Left Cuba. This is my first read by author Chanel Cleeton, a USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana. This is the second book to the series but is able to be read as a stand-alone.

The protagonist is Beatriz Perez, a young Cuban exile who is now in Florida after losing her family, her people, and her country to the Cuban Revolution. Beatriz is set on revenge and ends up being recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First the cover art was amazing. The protagonist was well-written. Beatriz is a strong and fearless character. The author obviously did her research to make the time period of 1960's Florida so realistic to the reader. I like reading historical fiction where I can learn about different places and times, so reading about the Cuban Revolution was enjoyable to me.

The author's writing style kept me interested throughout and I especially loved the ending. Overall this book was excellent...an enjoyable suspenseful read mixed with a little romance and espionage. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction and I can't wait to go back and read the first book in the series as well as any future installments. Thanks to BookBrowse, Berkley, and Chanel Cleeton for providing me with a print copy of this book to review.

John W. (Saint Louis, MO)

Amazing Follow-up to Next Year in Havana
If you enjoyed Next Year in Havana you'll want to check this one out. If not, this book can be read as a stand-alone, but the first book is so good that you really don't want to miss it. Unlike many other readers of both books, I'm not big into romance novels, but loved the author's detail description the period in these historical fiction books. It is a thought provoking read on many levels.

This book begins after the Perez family was forced out of Cuba after Fidel Castro's took control of the government. Beatrix is still longing to return to Cuba and the life she loved. Unfortunately, like many of us she allows her emotions to make decisions that can have rather dire consequences. She believes Castro killed her twin brother and wants to avenge his death by becoming involved with the CIA. She agrees to work as a spy for the CIA and infiltrate Castro's inner circle. Once involved as a spy she learns there is a dirty side of politics on both sides of the conflict. As the Cold War continues, Beatrix must make a decision between her quest for revenge and her desire to spend her life with the man she loves.

The main character is so well written that all of her actions fit in with her personality. The setting in Miami brings back memories of my visits to this beautiful city and allow me to image it during an earlier time.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Chanel Cleeton Author Biography

Photo: Chris Malpass

Chanel Cleeton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of When We Left Cuba and the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana. Originally from Florida, she grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Richmond, the American International University in London, and a master's degree in global politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Link to Chanel Cleeton's Website

Other books by Chanel Cleeton at BookBrowse
  • The Last Train to Key West jacket
  • Next Year in Havana jacket
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