The Last Train to Key West begins just days before the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The country is still feeling the impact of the Great Depression. The three main characters' paths first cross in Key West at Ruby’s Diner where we meet the young women whose lives will be changed by the horrific disaster about to occur.
Helen Berner is nine months pregnant and is still working at Ruby’s as a waitress. She is trapped in a marriage with an abusive husband. Mirta Perez has married a virtual stranger after her Cuban family has lost its social standing under the new Batista regime. The newlyweds have come to the Keys for their honeymoon before the wealthy American businessman takes Mirta back to New York. Elizabeth Preston’s family was ruined in the stock market crash and she is now engaged to man she does not love. She flees New York and heads to the Keys to find her brother, a war veteran, to escape her fiancé. The women’s lives intersect again when they each travel to Upper Matecumbe, where the hurricane lands creating catastrophic damage and tragic death.
In addition to the engaging stories of the three women, filled with love and determination, author Chanel Cleeton does an excellent job providing well-researched history which was rich in detail including Henry Flagler’s ambitious railroad project hoping to link New York with Havana and the veterans who were housed in deplorable camps to work on its construction.
This was such an enjoyable and interesting journey. I could not put the book down.
Many thanks to Edelweiss, Berkley / Penguin Publishing Book and Ms. Cleeton for an advance copy of this riveting book.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: June 16, 2020.
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