BookBrowse Reviews The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

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The Last Train to Key West

by Chanel Cleeton

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton X
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
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    Jun 2020, 320 pages


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About this Book



This skillfully wrought historical fiction novel is both a thrilling adventure and an educational glimpse at the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane that devastated the Florida Keys.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton received very positive comments from our First Impressions reviewers, who rated the book 4.5 out of 5 stars. Cleeton is the author of the previous historical fiction novels Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba.

What the book is about:

Three women from different walks of life all share one dreaded natural disaster, the Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys. These brave women brave dire circumstances, yet find friendship and love amidst the heartache and destruction (Patty B). Romance and danger are locked into Chanel Cleeton's travel-case for the Labor Day Special to Key West. The glamour of train travel is interlaced with the desperation of late Depression-era politics. Danger lurks at every turn as we meet three plucky heroines who rise to the challenge of survival (Claire M).

Readers admired the author's deft handling of separate story lines...

I applaud the author's skill as she effectively and skillfully manages three unique and distinctive narrators in alternating chapters (Kimberly A). I loved the author's choice to tell the story from the viewpoint of each of the three women lead characters. Each woman was unique and fully developed. The way that the women's emotions were expressed on the page and their lives became interwoven by the end of the story was sweetly unpredictable (Elizabeth L). The author intertwines her characters' lives among stories of disaster and romance. The characters, vivid and well-developed, move forward with their stories amid an underlying tension that is intensified by the impending storm (Susan M).

...and praised the realistic depiction of the Florida Keys, along with the experience of being near a hurricane.

I first wanted to read this book because of the setting. I wasn't disappointed. The rich backdrop of the Florida Keys adds another interesting layer to this already intriguing novel (Susan M). I lived in South Florida for four years. I have fond memories of the Florida Keys. I loved getting a glimpse of the history behind a place so near and dear to my heart. I also survived several hurricanes, including spending a week in a hurricane shelter. Cleeton gave me flashbacks as she nails the pre-hurricane anxiety and the post-traumatic aftermath (Angela K). Having visited Key West recently, I was immediately intrigued with the setting and the topic of the 1935 hurricane. The description of the devastation was spot on and truly disturbing (Elizabeth L).

Some reviewers pointed out that The Last Train to Key West is not necessarily a deep novel, but still an enjoyable one...

I found the coincidences slightly contrived and the romantic encounters just a step away from Harlequin. An entertaining read, but not one that will stay with you (Leslie R). Chanel Cleeton's novel The Last Train to Key West is not a literary masterpiece but it's a good read. For anyone looking for an intriguing beach read this book will be perfect (Jean B).

...and others applauded Cleeton's skill in the historical fiction genre.

Informative and readable narrative is embedded in dialogue which delightfully acquaints the reader with the characters in this historical look at the treatment of WWI veterans and the horrendous 1935 Labor Day Hurricane on the Florida Keys. I would recommend this book to individuals as well as to book discussion groups (Michael G). This is the third book by Chanel Cleeton that I have read, and I have enjoyed all of them. Each time I have felt that I am learning something about history at the same time that I am enjoying a great read about people that I would like to know (Chris D). This book was amazing! I am normally not interested in historical fiction but went ahead and challenged myself to read this book. After the first few pages, I found it not to be a challenge at all; this is a great story. Historical fiction will become one of my new choices of genre as a result of reading this book. I also look forward to reading some of the other works from Chanel Cleeton (Xandra B).

This review first ran in the June 24, 2020 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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