Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleefton


Three very different women are forever changed when a hurricane hits the Florida Keys in 1935.  Helen is a native of the islands and is happy to be pregnant with her first child.  Sadly, her husband is abusive, and she longs to break free to start a new life.  At the restaurant she works at, she meets Mirta.  Mirta is a newlywed who has married a rich man from New York to save her Cuban family.  She doesn’t know much about him and is not sure what types of illegal activities he has been a part of to obtain his fortune.  She is hoping the two of them can get to know each other on their honeymoon on the Keys.  Another visitor to Helen’s restaurant is Elizabeth Preston.  She has fled to the Keys to look for her missing brother.  He returned from World War I, not the same and she is sure he is in the camps of veterans that are working on the new highway to link the islands.  When the hurricane strikes, what will happen to these ladies?

 The Last Train to Key West was the FLICKS aka Rogue Book Club pick for November and we had our first virtual meeting. Our book club has had a hard time meeting this year due to COVID.  We had a couple of outdoor meetings, but this was our first virtual meeting.  I think this is how we will be meeting for the time being.  One of our members was quarantined and another sick with COVID for this meeting.  We all enjoyed this novel, although we all agreed that we didn’t like the ending.  It was happy, which is good for these times, buseemed very unrealistic.

 I enjoyed the story of each of the characters and the history that was in the novel.  I had never heard of this hurricane.  I also didn’t know the plight of the World War I veterans that were working on the highway connecting the islands.  I thought it was fascinating and had to look up more about it when I finished the novel.

 Favorite Quotes:

“I’ve imagined my husband’s death a thousand times.”

 “Where I’m from, there’s an advantage to people earing you, to thinking you capable of anything.”

 “The world has expectations of you, of how you are to shoulder your burdens with grace, of the role you play, and as soon as you don’t live up to hose expectations, it’s easier for others to cast you aside rather than change how they view the world.”

 “It’s strange how your life can change so quickly, how one moment you can barely eke by, desperation filling your days, and suddenly, out of the unimaginably horrific, a glimmer of something beautiful can appear like a bud pushing through the hard-formed earth.”

 Overall, The Last Train to Key West was an interesting historical fiction novel with a happy ending that will dismay some and delight others.

 Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library. Thank-you!

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