I’ve loved each of Chanel Cleeton’s books, so I knew I HAD to read this one. I listened to the audiobook, which was very well done.
Told through the eyes of three women: reporter Grace Harrington, wife and sometimes courier of information Marina Perez, and the title’s own Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, real life heroine, Evangelina Cisneros, this story takes in all angles of the coming Spanish American War. From the vantage point of the yacht William Randolph Hearst charters to cover the war, to the prison where Evangelina is held, to the re-concentration camps and barely-surviving life of Marina, this story is amazing. Each woman’s take on life shows the emotions, dreams, and war-time experience of each woman. Throw in Hearst and his showgirls, Joseph Pulitzer, and a dashing, bantering, Rhett-Butler-ish blockage runner and you have a fabulous historical novel. (Seriously? Has anyone since 1937 heard the term “blockade runner” and not immediately thought, Captain Rhett Butler?)
Aside from a stray phrase like “it’s complicated” or the word “helmed” supposedly used in 1897, and the over-use of the odd word “tenterhooks” (3 times–2 times too many) this book is everything the hype wants you to believe it is. Cleeton tells such a rich story–I did not want to stop listening. I created errands just to get in the car and listen to more!
4 Full Stars
Imagine, the Spanish American War with barely a mention of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders! This one is all women!
My reviews of Chanel Cleeton’s other great books:
If you like this approach to historical fiction, you will likely also enjoy Ribbons of Scarlet, a novel focused on the women of the French Revolution.