First word that comes to mind when describing “Our Last Days in Barcelona” by Chanel Cleeton is “Wow!” I finished the Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of this book about a week ago, and since then I’ve been thinking about how to captivate just how amazing it was. There’s no doubt that Cleeton has done it again!
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that we are huge fans of Chanel Cleeton and have often picked her books as our book club picks. I’ve read all of her books and collect signed copies of them all—I guess you can say I’m a fan. I didn’t think I’d love a book more than “Next Year in Havana”—the first book depicting the Perez family. Since then, I’ve loved all of them, but “Last Train to Key West” became my second favorite, depicting Henry Flagler’s construction of the Overseas Railroad and a deadly hurricane heading to the island over Labor Day Weekend. The women in “The Last Train to Key West” showed such strength and resilience that they instantly captivated me.
But, I have to say that “Our Last Days in Barcelona” has moved in to my #2 spot now. I can’t say enough good things about this book, which will be released on May 24th. This novel tells the story of the third Perez sister, Isabel during the 1960s. However, Isabel isn’t the only main character whose story is more deeply revealed in this novel. We also get to know Alicia, the matriarch of the Perez family and Isabel, Beatriz, Elisa, Maria, and Alejandro’s mom a lot better. We get to learn more about her early married life, and a trip she took to Spain in 1935 during the Spanish Civil War. Rosa Ortega, cousin of Alicia, is also introduced in this novel as she and Alicia showcase what life was like in 1960s. Alicia’s story will surprise you. But the stories of the two cousins will depict what marriage was like in the 1960s, the expectations Cuban families put on the women, and how they paved their own path one way or another.
In “Our Last Days in Barcelona” Isabel leaves West Palm Beach, and her husband, to search for Beatriz, who she has not heard from in a while. Though the two sisters are in a bit of a rift as the story beings (and where their relationship left off in “When We Left Cuba,” their relationship transforms throughout the book. But, that’s not the only transformation that takes place. During her time in Barcelona, Isabel becomes a bit more adventurous and gets to know herself, her dreams, desires, and passions more than she has ever allowed herself to in the past. Isabel has been a character who has put her family’s needs before her own throughout the Perez family story line, and in this novel she begins to explore more of herself.
Family secrets will be unveiled, while the family’s and society’s expectations are challenged.
The biggest perk for me was getting to visit with the other Perez sisters and learn a little more about what they’re up to. Though they’re not main characters in this story line, it was fun to get to hear from them throughout the novel, especially Elisa who started our love for the Perez women.
Now, if you want to hear more from Chanel Cleeton and her thoughts on her latest novel, sign up for her free virtual chat with Book & Books taking place on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
And, you can also order a SIGNED copy of the novel from Books & Books—use code bella for 20% off your purchase of either the hardcover or paperback copy.