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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
A Hundred Fires in Cuba by John Thorndike is the fictional story of Clare Miller, an American photographer married to a wealthy Cuban business tycoon in Havana, a man she'd settled for after a whirlwind affair with the prominent and revered revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos left her pregnant and alone at a time when such circumstances were unthinkable. When news reaches Clare that Cienfuegos is actually alive, Clare is confronted with the difficult choice of remaining in a marriage with the man who believes her young daughter, Alameda, was conceived by a wayward Puerto Rican, or seeking out a love she'd lost but never truly gave up on; a charismatic legend of a man who is as difficult to hold on to as water in the hand. “I meant that when you died, I had to live with that forever. I thought it was forever. My heart’s still damaged, because in it you’re dead. Here you are, alive, but I have to catch up.”
A Hundred Fires in Cuba is a vivid and wonderfully written book that highlights a time and era when Cuba was at the apex of change, focusing on a woman caught in the cross hairs of two men who are the antithesis of the other: a capitalist and a communist. And while Camilo Cienfuegos is central to the story, it is Clare who is our worthy protagonist, and it is through the narrative of her life that John Thorndike offers us a glorious view of the personal trials experienced in the midst of public tumult. I absolutely adored this book. It has romance with perfectly fleshed out characters, dramatic scenery, tension, and all the right history to appeal to a wide readership. And while I have always been intrigued by Cienfuegos himself, it is Clare that I was grateful to have in the driving seat of this brilliantly engrossing story.