THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA by Chanel Cleeton
At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history. From Goodreads
On sale May 4th, 2021
“I’m here for a job if you have one. As a reporter. I’ve spent the last few years writing for smaller papers, getting experience where I could.” I gesture to the leather folio in my lap. “I’ve brought samples of my work if you’d like to look at them. They’re not necessarily the kinds of stories I want to cover, but they’re a start.”
“Why do you wish to work here, Miss Harrington?” Pulitzer asks, making no move to take the folio from me.
“Because of the stories you cover, the impact you have. The World has one of the largest circulations in the world.”
Indeed, Mr. Pulitzer has just slashed the World’s price to one cent, saying he prefers power to profits, circulation the measure by which success is currently judged.
“You have the opportunity to reach readers, to bring about change, to help people who desperately need assistance,” I add. “I’ve admired the work you’ve done for years. You’ve long set the tone the rest of the New York newspaper industry follows. You’ve filled a gap in the news, given a voice to people who wouldn’t have otherwise had one. I’ve read the articles you wrote when you were a reporter yourself in St. Louis, and I admire the manner in which you address society’s ills. You’ve revolutionized the newspaper. I want to be part of that.”
“That’s all fine and good, but why should I hire you? What would you bring to the World that someone else wouldn’t?”
“My gender, for one. A woman knows what it’s like to be pushed to society’s margins. There are some who might argue that a woman cannot do this job as effectively as a man. They would be wrong. Nellie Bly has proven that. You did, too, when you hired her.”
“And what do you know of Nellie Bly?”
“You gave her a chance when others wouldn’t.”
“Cockerill gave her a chance,” he replies, referring to his editor.
“With all due respect, Mr. Pulitzer, we both know this is your paper. You saw something in Nellie Bly. And now she’s gone, and you need another reporter who can take on the kinds of stories she did and can go places your male journalists can’t. What she accomplished at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum”—the words “lunatic asylum” fall distastefully from my mouth—“on Blackwell’s Island, going undercover like that, was nothing short of extraordinary. Those women’s lives have been changed because of Miss Bly’s courage and her daring. Those placards out there, the philosophy with which you run your newsroom—I promise to uphold it every single day I work for you.”
Pulitzer leans back in his chair. “You’re plucky like Bly, I’ll give you that.”
Chanel Cleeton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba, The Last Train to Key West, and The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba.
Originally from Florida, Chanel 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 & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
My Thoughts – 4.5 Stars
I have been in love with Chanel Cleeton’s writing since I read her first book Next Year In Havana a few years ago. She has a way of writing that just envelopes you into the lives of the woman in her stories. In her newest book we are following 3 different woman who all play a role during The Cuban War of Independence and The Spanish American War in the late 1890’s. We are first following Grace Harrington as she pursues a career in Journalism in New York City. Grace tries to get a job with Joseph Pulitzer at The World but says he will only hire her if she spies on William Randolph Hearst for him. Wanting the job she goes straight to The Journal and asks Hearst for a job which he grants her. Over the course of a couple years, Grace realizes that she respects Hearst and comes clean about the spying and continues to work from him.
At the same time we have Evangelina Cisneros and Marina Sandoval. Evangelina is from a wealthy family who sides with the revolutionaries for Cuba’s independence. The local man in charge took a liking to Evangelina and tried to assault the result which landed her in jail. While Marina was forced from her home and put in a reconcentration camp. Evangelina became a rally cry for the Americans to get involved with war in Cuba. Hearst used her story to bolster his paper sales and at the same time gain sympathy for whats going in Cuba. Marina who is frustrated that she can not help the revolutionaries decides to start carrying letters hidden in her laundry that she does for others. Eventually all 3 of these woman’s lives will intersect and how they each helped the other in a time when woman seemed to be forgotten.
I really enjoyed this book and the stories that were told. Every time I pick up one of Chanel’s books I always know I am going to learn about a time in history that I am not knowledgable on. I found myself googling Evangelina Cisneros ( who is a real person ), The USS Maine and of course the rivalry between Hearst and Pulitzer. While I was not as invested in one of the ladies stories I still loved this book. Grace was such a great character read about and I would have been happy if the entire book was about her! Thank you so much to Berkley for my advanced copy and for letting me apart of the blog blitz for this incredible book!
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