Friday, January 29, 2021

Audiobook Review - THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST by Chanel Cleeton


Title: The Last Train to Key West

Author: Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 16, 2020

About the Book:

In 1935, three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.

For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in HavanaMirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston's trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST was this past month's pick from a book club I belong to here in the Florida Keys. I must say that this was the perfect book for us to read. Having lived through numerous hurricanes and being a longtime resident of the Keys, this story went straight to my soul. 

Three women with three entirely different backgrounds cross paths and are linked through circumstances during the time of the massively destructive hurricane of 1935. Helen, a Key West native, is a victim of domestic abuse and we watch her struggles to exist day by day as her pregnancy unfolds. Mirta, a woman newly in Florida from her home in Cuba, is the new bride of an American gangster through an arranged marriage in order to help her family. And then there is Elizabeth, a New York socialite now struggling to make ends meet after her family lost their wealth during the Great Depression, and feverishly trying to find the one person who may be able to help her get away from the man she is engaged to marry.

This book of historic fiction brings together not only these three women, but it brings to mind the struggles of the people in the Keys during this time period. Not only the anxiety and devastation from the hurricane, but the lives of the men who worked in the camps and the conditions they had to endure, as well as a fascinating description of what it was like to travel through the Keys.

Chanel Cleeton has created fully dimensional fictional characters that you love or love-to-hate, and has also brought together well-developed historical facts about life in the Florida Keys during that time period. Wonderful book and highly recommended to anyone who has ever visited the Florida Keys.

This review is based on the audiobook, which I also give a 5-star (5 wine glass) rating. The narration by Kyla Garcia, Rachel L. Jacobs and Karissa Vacker was outstanding and well-paced.  

My Rating:

About the Author:

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. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Learn more about her on her website at


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