Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley


This book was published by Quercus on 19th May 2016. I have read it as part of their Summer Reading Book Club. Many thanks to them for sending me a copy.

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he's the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro's army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?
England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother's untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulderto cry on - Grace's career is in flux, she isn't sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she's begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can't make Grace's problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family's happiness?
My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book so much, a senuous and absorbing story set against the sizzling backdrop of dancing and Cuba. Past and present have been merged seamlessly in this evocative story of current loves and past loves, and those loves that never ever fade. 
The author has skilfully managed to bring the sights and sounds of Cuba to life, I could almost imagine myself walking around the markets and absorbing all that is going on around me, listening to the music and watching the dancing. You can tell that there was a real passion for the area from the way this story was written. Cuba hasn't been without its struggles though and I think that this has been portrayed well.
This story manages to merge 1950's Cuba with current day England and the dual narratives overlap. In my personal opinion it is Eliza's story that I cared for. I was willing her to get her happy ending so much. Grace's story whilst intriguing didn't captivate me quite as much. Although inextricably linked Grace and Elisa are at very much different stages in their lives. They are more similar than they think though, they both want the opportunity to take chances and find their ultimate happiness.
A story of love and friendship. Also a story of families and decisions that they make. It is also about dancing and its transformative and healing powers. 
This story has been written with as much soul as the countries where the stories are located. A beautiful read, that managed to hold me captivated. I will certainly be looking up the authors previous novels. 
About the Author: 
Rosanna Ley has written numerous articles and stories for magazines. A long-time creative writing tutor, she now runs writing holidays and retreats in stunning locations in the UK and abroad. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the Sea. Last Dance in Havana is her fifth novel. 
Twitter: @RosannaLey

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