Several years ago I visited Cuba - a friend wanted to visit this intriguing country before Castro carked it. We had ten days exploring Havana, drinking strawberry daiquiris at Hotel Nacional, walking the tobacco fields of Vinales, or sunning ourselves on the sandy beaches of Maria La Gourda. It was a unique country to visit, so very different to anywhere I had been before, but I'm not sure I'd go back.
When friends, family and work colleagues asked about my trip to the somewhat romantic country that is Cuba, I struggled to give them a reply. I think they really wanted to hear me say I'd had a fantastic time - and to a certain extent I did. I'd had the opportunity to experience a new culture, spend time with friends, explore a new country, and see sights people can only dream of seeing. Yet I left feeling frustrated. I wanted to see Cuba rise to its potential, to see the next generation - my generation - put Cuba back on the map as it should be. Yet at the same time I was torn with an inkling feeling that perhaps those who are there are happy as they are, and who am I, a tourist, to encourage them to become something they're not.
Amy Ephron's book, White Rose (Una Rose Blanca) took me back to Cuba. The story of an American journalist, sent under the reign of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, to not only get the story of a Cuban revolutionary, but to free her as well. Based on a true story, White Rose was a beautiful book - at once telling the story of Evangelina Cisneros from inside her prison walls, while setting the scene for New York Journal reporter Karl Decker to risk his life for story, for love, and for her.
Amy Ephron has fast become my new favourite author, and having already become enraptured by her previous books A Cup of Tea and One Sunday Morning, she struck a third chord with me here in White Rose.