Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Chanel Cleeton offers an interesting novelization of the lives of Evangelina Cisneros, Marina Perez (of her famed Perez family), and a fictional character, writer Grace Harrington, who is working for William Randolph Hearst. Set in Cuba during the precarious period just before the Spanish American War. Cisneros was the face of the Spanish oppression of Cuban separatists, made famous by Hearst coverage of her imprisonment after her purported resistance to a sexual assault by a powerful Spanish colonel. The Spanish had accused her of trying to entrap the officer, who was attacked by rebels who came to her defense. She was incarcerated in the horrific women's prison, the Casa de Recogidas in Havana.

Cleeton does a creditable job of weaving together the stories of these three very different women and skillfully handles the issue of whether Cisneros actually entrapped Colonel Berriz (regardless of whether it was a setup, he tried to assault or take advantage of a woman being held in his care). This was another enjoyable novel dealing with Cuban history from an author who continues to find ways to bring this history to a wider American audience.

The audiobook, narrated by Frankie Corzo, Holly Linneman, and Rebecca Soler is excellent.

Evangelina Cisneros, dubbed the most beautiful woman in Cuba by Hearst's publications.

Those wishing to learn more about Evangelina Cosio y Cisneros can check Rutgers University's Guantanamo Memory project article and American University Professor Joseph W. Campbell's article and references therein about her.

I received a digital review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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