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Havana Lost by [Hellmann, Libby Fischer]
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3.9 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Length: 302 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Cuba, on the eve of the revolution, 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli's mobster father runs a casino. While Francesca is supposed to marry another man, she falls in love with Cuban revolutionary Luis and becomes pregnant. But Francesca's father kidnaps her, and she is taken to the U.S. Luis never finds her again. Year later, Francesca's son, Michael, is sent to Cuba on dangerous family business—and the trip changes his life and that of his family. This sprawling tale takes readers from Cuba to Angola and Chicago and back again. While the story of the Cuban revolution, as well as the Cuban military efforts in Angola, is fascinating, readers will find their credulity strained by plot holes and the author's reliance on coincidences. The story's twists and turns become frustrating and it's difficult to be fully invested in the characters.

From Booklist

The Cuban Revolution is the rich backdrop for this riveting historical thriller. In the days just prior to the revolution, life in Cuba is difficult. Spies are everywhere. Poverty and hunger are rampant. But for American Francesca Pacelli, life is easy. Her Mafia-boss father owns a luxury hotel and casino in Havana, where they live. When Francesca meets Luis Perez, a rebel fighter, she falls in love fast and runs away with him. Her father tracks her down and sends her back to the States, where the brokenhearted and pregnant Francesca is pushed into an arranged marriage. All their lives are changed by these events, and the story follows these characters from 1950s Cuba to present-day Chicago, where Francesca is now head of the family and is as ruthless as she needs to be. Meanwhile, Luis ends up in South Africa, where he stumbles upon a crew mining coltan, a rare mineral necessary in the production of computers, and finds himself in serious danger: blood diamonds aren’t the only export causing brutal violence in South Africa. This multigenerational page-turner is packed with intrigue and shocking plot twists. --Stacy Alesi

Product Details

  • File Size: 1247 KB
  • Print Length: 302 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Red Herrings Press (August 16, 2013)
  • Publication Date: August 16, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CS7TICY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,566 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James A. Anderson on August 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Libby Fischer Hellmann's new novel HAVANA LOST is the best of her many great books.

Meticulously researched, this historical thriller will grab you from the beginning and keep you turning pages as you travel through 1950s and 1960s Fidel Castro Cuba. It is a truly moving tale of broken families and lost loves.

Cuba on the cusp of revolution makes for an interesting and highly relevant tale. The writing is flawless and truly captures the sights, sounds, sights and scents of Cuba. I've never been there, but reading this now makes me want to visit.

On the eve of the Cuban Revolution, headstrong 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli flees from her ruthless Mafia-boss father in Havana to the arms of her lover, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro. Her father, desperate to send her to safety in the US, resorts to torture and blackmail as he searches the island for her.

So begins the first part of a spellbinding saga that spans three generations of the same family. It is sweeping saga of love and revenge.

This is Libby's 10th novel and her best. I was given an advance copy to read and review and it was my pleasure to do so.

If you read only one novel this year, make this it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Havana Lost ebook

There are a number of things to really like about this book. It is clear the author did a lot of research about Cuba. This is a pleasant way to get the flavor of what Cuba was like toward the end of Batista's regime, how the rebels lived and thought, and what life was like under Castro's regime. This felt authentic.

On the other hand, the structure of the book is somewhat unusual. It seemed to have a very long prolog, lasting perhaps half of the book. Then, it had another long prolog. Finally, around chapter 50, we get to the actual story.

As far as a thriller goes, the first half or so was pleasant enough. It wasn't quite The Godfather on Sedatives, but wasn't The Godfather on Steroids either. We follow a mafia princess as she finds and loses the love of her life amidst the revolution, and then, bang, about 30 years pass and we begin to follow her son, then, bang (and I do mean bang), we are back to the mafia princess as an old woman, along with her college-age granddaughter, but without enough character development to care very much about either of them.

I suggest reading the book as three separate books. Read the first part as a history of the end of the Bastista regime and the pressures that led to the revolution. Read the next part for insight into the living conditions in Castro's Cuba. Read chapter 50 to the end as a short story.

Overall, it was pleasant, but not compelling, but a good way to learn something about Cuba's history.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Author Libby Fischer Hellmann effectively elicits reader response, empathy and participation in her cyclic tale of three generations of a mob-connected family deeply affected by Havana's high-flying anything goes 1950s, the social upheavals of the Cuban revolution and aftermath to the present day..

In the end, Hellmann leaves the reader to decide whether or not the cycle is broken or if it is condemned to repeat again. Not quite a thriller, not quite a suspense novel, this is a totally absorbing story that keeps its interest throughout.

It's always a privilege and pleasure to find a story that won't be pigeon-holed into a particular genre or formula. HAVANA LOST is one such tale. Only the second Libby Fischer Hellmann novel I've read, I look forward to enjoying her many others.

Note: Comments may contain "spoiler" information. Read at own risk.
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Format: Paperback
It is Monday afternoon and I am on vacation. In fact, I'm at the beach and have only been here since Saturday afternoon! Libby Fisher Hellmann gave me a copy of her new novel, HAVANA LOST, to read and review so I brought it along. I thought possibly I could spend a little time here and there this week, lost in HAVANA LOST. I just finished reading the whole thing!

Once I began reading this book, I could NOT put it down. I mostly read the book on my iPad, but when the battery began to fail, I picked up my phone to continue reading as I charged the iPad's battery. I could not put the book down! I continued my eReading game of tag because I simply could not put the book down.

I am disappointed as I still have 5 more days at the beach and am left with a dried and curled old Agatha Christie paperback. I did not want HAVANA LOST to end!

HAVANA LOST begins as the story of the headstrong 18-year old Francesca Pacelli, daughter of a connected American casino owner in old Havana, Cuba, at the end of the 1950's. Francesca runs away with her lover, a freedom fighter with Fidel Castro as her father turns the island upside down trying to find her and send her to safety in the US. The story follows three generations of the Pacelli family, from the troubled streets of revolutionary Havana to the present as the past catches up in Chicago.

Ms. Hellmann paints a vivid and colorful picture of Cuba as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara fight the corruption of Batista as well as the post Soviet Union Cuba of abject poverty and a failed ideal.
Be prepared. Once you begin reading this book, you WILL NOT be able to put it down until you turn the last page. And you'll turn that last page with reluctance because it will mean the end of a riveting story.
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