Ashley Morgan presents a fictional romantic romp through Cuba during the late 1950’s in A Lady in Havana.
Convalescing in a Florida nursing home from a stroke, elderly Dimple Duncan seeks to fulfill her daughter Hallie’s wish to record her remembrances of her time spent in Cuba when she and her husband traveled there to pursue potentially lucrative business deals. Hallie, an aspiring novelist, surmises that her mother harbors untold anecdotes which could provide the basis for her own writing.
In fact, Dimple’s reminiscences reveal a trove of amorous and adventurous intrigue. Initially considering the trip not to be much more than a lark, Dimple, a “partying, canasta-playing housewife,” employs her Southern charm to help her husband navigate the social aspects of dealing with the Batista government. Dimple soon, however, confronts a moral dilemma as she contemplates an affair that holds consequences for both her marriage and for American foreign policy.
Morgan, the pseudonym of an accomplished author, seamlessly intersperses dual narratives of both Dimple’s younger days and the present. Havana itself comes alive as the author deftly evokes the city’s mojito-flowing and rhumba-beat atmosphere. In a single day, Dimple flits from serendipitously meeting Lana Turner and Ernest Hemingway to dancing the night away at La Tropicana. Dimple, however, is more than a one-dimensional socialite. Determined “to do more than just bat my eyelashes,” she reads up on Cuban politics before trekking through the mountains to meet Fidel Castro.
While the plot is inherently implausible, and the ending wraps up a bit too neatly, the story’s many rewards compensate for these issues. A Lady in Havana offers a quick pace, engaging characters, and insight into the glamor and danger of Cuba on the eve of revolution, compensating for such issues.
This makes for a fun, action-packed story set in pre-revolutionary Cuba that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance alike.
Also available as an e-book.