Review: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

This year I'm delighted to be a part of Quercus Books' summer reading scheme #QuercusSummer. The first book I was sent to read was the beautiful Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley.

The cows certainly enjoyed it!



Synopsis
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?

Review
I've never read any books set in Cuba before, nor have I read anything by Rosanna Ley, so it was refreshing to read something different. The majority of the novel follows three women whose lives intertwine in unexpected ways: Grace, her Cuban born stepmother Elisa, and Rosalyn, mother to Elisa's first love Duardo. Sometimes novels with time jumps/multiple viewpoints don't work for me, but although this one had both I found it easy to follow the different strands of the narrative and piece everything together as the story swept me along.

The thing that really sold this novel to me was the settings. I've never been to Cuba (or Bristol for that matter), and yet I could picture the dust and heat vividly. The colours, the food, the friendly atmosphere, right down to the country's political history Rosanna has really done her research and it shows. I almost feel as if I have taken a holiday there myself!

There's one quote towards the end of the book that I think about sums it up: 'life was not a romantic novel; life always had a few surprises in store'. Life can change with one look, one dance, one turn of a card, and things will never be the same again.

*Thanks to Quercus Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review! #QuercusSummer*

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