Audiobook Mini-Review: The Last Train to Key West

20 Jul

My lunchtime book club discussed The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton this month. We really enjoyed it. It has a lot to recommend it — 3 strong female voices, a tropical location, rich historical detail, and the tension of a monstrous hurricane bearing down on all. The three main characters — Helen, Mirta, and Elizabeth — were products of their time and culture. Each is facing decisions regarding their marital relationships and seek resolutions very different from each other. We liked all the women, but Elizabeth especially grew on us. Not a sympathetic character at first, she probably was our favorite. As for the men, they ranged from a despicable abuser, to a dashing devil, a loyal companion, and a true hero. It was no question that John won the best male character category. 😉 The autonomy of women is a strong theme, with each female character navigating her own situation with determination and conviction. There were a number of twists and turns we did not see coming, and that just added to the suspense of the oncoming hurricane. We knew what history told us, but not if or how the fictional characters would survive. This is a general market novel, but very clean with bedroom scenes taking place behind closed doors. There is some domestic abuse that may be troubling to some readers. Specific to the audiobook — 3 narrators are used to bring the women’s stories to life. I loved each voice. This is the perfect book/audiobook to pack in the pool bag.


Audience: adults.

(I borrowed the audiobook from my local library through Libby. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.
For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape. 
After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in HavanaMirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life. 
Elizabeth Preston’s trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Chanel Cleeton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba, The Last Train to Key West, and The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. Originally from Florida, Chanel grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. 

Learn more about her on her website at

3 Responses to “Audiobook Mini-Review: The Last Train to Key West”

  1. Carla July 20, 2022 at 9:47 am #

    I very much enjoyed this book. I liked reading about your discussions and conclusions.

    • rbclibrary July 20, 2022 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks! I could have gone on and on. LOL! It was the perfect book for our summer reading mood.

  2. Cindy Davis July 20, 2022 at 11:34 am #

    I love that there are 3 narrators, how fun!

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