cover image Our Last Days in Barcelona

Our Last Days in Barcelona

Chanel Cleeton. Berkley, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-19782-0

In this engrossing saga, Cleeton picks up the story of the Perez family from When We Left Cuba, following their exile in Florida after Castro’s revolution. The eldest daughter, Isabel, 28, travels to Barcelona in 1964, worried that her sister Beatriz’s job at the U.S. consulate there, a cover for CIA-supported anti-Castro work, has put her in danger. In Beatriz’s apartment, Isabel discovers an old photo of herself as a toddler taken in Barcelona with her mother, Alicia, and an unknown man. Cleeton then shifts back to 1936, with Alicia taking Isabel to visit her parents in Spain after learning of her husband Emilio’s infidelities. Alicia reconnects with Nestor, a doctor she had a crush on when they were both students. They fall in love while Alicia tries to help her unmarried pregnant sister, Consuela, keep her baby. Back in 1964, Isabel falls in love with Beatriz’s friend, Diego, whom she later suspects is working for the CIA. There are satisfying endings for mother and daughter, with an unexpected revelation of how Alicia’s choice made Isabel’s possible a generation later. Cleeton’s complex female characters and evocative settings, spiced with a dollop of political drama, make this a pleasing outing. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marshall Lyon Literary. (May)