5 August 2010

Book Review: One Kiss in Havana by Michelle Jackson

Emma is devastated at the sudden death of her husband Paul, but is overjoyed when she discovers he had booked a holiday to Cuba for them before he died. Emma decided to go anyway, and wants to take her youngest sister Sophie... without realising that it was Sophie that Paul was intending to take all along. Sophie knows she has betrayed her sister in the worst, but has to go on the holiday to keep up her secret.

Their middle sister Louise knows Sophie's secret and is worried about it coming out while her sisters holiday in Cuba. But Louise has her own problems to deal with. Her marriage to Donal is in trouble because she feels like it is going nowhere, and when her previous lover Jack Durran comes back into Louise's life unexpectedly, she's faced with a decision she never thought she'd have to make. Will Louise choose pastures new or stick with the life she knows?

And how exactly with one kiss in Havana change Emma's life forever?

I read and adored Michelle's last  novel Three Nights in New York last year so when she announced on Facebook earlier this year that she had another book coming out this summer, I was really excited to read it because I just knew I would love it as well. The cover makes the book scream out "Summer Read" and being someone who would love to visit the country of Cuba one day, One Kiss in Havana sounded like the perfect read and when Michelle kindly sent me a copy, I devoured it in just a few days because it was so good! It's definitely one of those books I would love to read again and again.

The book tells the tale of 3 sisters, Emma, Sophie and Louise, and the trials and tribulations they have to overcome in their lives. The book starts off with a bang, with Emma waking up beside her dead husband so we're thrown straight into the story and that's the way I like it to be honest. I hate books that start too slowly because I end up getting bored quite quickly and therefore it drags down my whole opinion of the book. However, Jackson dives straight in with the story, the shocking revelations about Sophie and Paul, and slowly brings in another character, Louise, too.

Even though there are 3 main characters, and consequently 3 families and more characters to remember, it is very easy to keep up with the characters in this book. The characters, especially the 3 leading ladies, are all very different and are well created characters, very believable and drive the plot forwards really well. I found myself really disliking Sophie because of her actions, feeling sorry yet angry at Louise for her behaviour and loving Emma because she was the best character in the book. I was rooting for her throughout the story and was eager for Emma to get the happy ending she deserved, she's a fabulous character and Jackson does a great job of making her likeable.

The setting of Havana is absolutely perfect and I totally lost myself in this book everytime I picked it up. I felt like I was walking through the streets of Havana with Emma and Felipe, and Jackson's fabulous descriptions of the country and the smallest little details really bring the book to life for me and made it just fantastic to read. I adored the section set in Cuba and was actually really disappointed when the book came back over the Ireland because I was so reluctant to leave Cuba behind! I love how Jackson included some Cuban locals in her story that pop in and out of the story when it's in Cuba, it just added a real authenticity to it and I can't tell you how much I loved this bit of the book.

I enjoyed how many different stories there were throughout the book. It wasn't just following 2 ladies on their holiday, it was about Emma's self-discovery and moving on from Paul's death, Sophie trying to get on with her life after the death of her lover Paul, and also Louise and the return of her former lover too. I actually liked Louise's storyline running alongside that of Emma and Sophie because it shifts the focus occasionally and gives the reader something else to ponder about and get into. Jackson manages to run all these stories alongside each other with ease, and it's not at all a struggle to keep up with any of them.

This book is absolutely brilliant, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It is extremely well written, there are some brilliant storylines running through the book, not just those of the love lives of our characters, but also some great stories about the country of Cuba, and I feel I learned a lot about it when I was reading this book. I loved how much detail Jackson puts in about Cuba, even the smallest details were fantastic and I'd love to know if she was lucky enough to visit the country in order to do her research! I would definitely recommend this book as a summer read, and this is certainly a book that will be kept on my "Keepers" shelf from now on.

Rating: 5/5


  1. D: After reading the synopsis, I really dislike Sophie.

  2. After reading the synopsis I'm really looking forward to reading this, I've never read anything by this author before and think it will be a eye opener to the type of writing style of this author. Thanks for giving me a new book to look out for. :)

  3. Sounds great. And perfect timing too. I've been obsessing over Desi Arnaz and I Love Lucy reruns this summer and it's making me want to go to Havana. (Desi was Cuban and from Havana.) Can't wait to read this one. :D

  4. Wonderful review! I'm itching to read this story now just to see how much I'm going to dislike Sophie.

  5. I really enjoyed this book and was hooked from the start. As one of the earlier comments said you pick who you like and dislike early on. One thing I must say is that it is not a "chick lit" perse. It has good characters, you care what happens to them and it also makes you think about the lives of people in Cuba. Much more depth than a chick lit. I read Michelle's previous book Three Nights in Paris. An author I will look out for from now on.

  6. Stacey Bennett28 July 2011 at 17:50

    Just received a copy of this book and have started straight away, only four chapters in but am hooked already! Loved her other book Three Nights in New York x