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Cuba

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Maggie's idea of starting over after breaking up with her boyfriend isn't working out as planned. Instead of the fabulous career, shopping with friends, and dinner parties she'd imagined, all she has is a lonely flat, and although it pays well, her job at Vixenz isn't worth writing home about. Life picks up for Maggie when she accidentally discovers that she can overhear Maggie's idea of starting over after breaking up with her boyfriend isn't working out as planned. Instead of the fabulous career, shopping with friends, and dinner parties she'd imagined, all she has is a lonely flat, and although it pays well, her job at Vixenz isn't worth writing home about. Life picks up for Maggie when she accidentally discovers that she can overhear everything in her neighbors' flat. When her new neighbor David announces to his wife Libby that they and their infant son Charlie are off to Cuba on sabbatical, the travel bug is very contagious, and it doesn't take Maggie long to decide that Libby and David are not going alone...


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Maggie's idea of starting over after breaking up with her boyfriend isn't working out as planned. Instead of the fabulous career, shopping with friends, and dinner parties she'd imagined, all she has is a lonely flat, and although it pays well, her job at Vixenz isn't worth writing home about. Life picks up for Maggie when she accidentally discovers that she can overhear Maggie's idea of starting over after breaking up with her boyfriend isn't working out as planned. Instead of the fabulous career, shopping with friends, and dinner parties she'd imagined, all she has is a lonely flat, and although it pays well, her job at Vixenz isn't worth writing home about. Life picks up for Maggie when she accidentally discovers that she can overhear everything in her neighbors' flat. When her new neighbor David announces to his wife Libby that they and their infant son Charlie are off to Cuba on sabbatical, the travel bug is very contagious, and it doesn't take Maggie long to decide that Libby and David are not going alone...

30 review for Cuba

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelle

    though this is not my typical choice of reading material, i did enjoy this book. i read the majority of the book on a flight from california to michigan and it made the trip pleasurable....as did the vodka. i suggest drinking and flying while reading this book...i don't know if i'd have liked it as much if i was grounded and sober.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cláudia

    Emily Barr always write in a way that makes it almost impossible to stop reading, even if you absolutely can't stand the main character. Oh, how I hated Maggie. Still do! This book is the most depressive and oppressive I've read so far from this author, glad I already read several others or I don't know if I would continue... Also,if a writer is using a foreign language, he/she should be completely sure the words and phrases are correct. Several of the "spanish" words and expressions used were in Emily Barr always write in a way that makes it almost impossible to stop reading, even if you absolutely can't stand the main character. Oh, how I hated Maggie. Still do! This book is the most depressive and oppressive I've read so far from this author, glad I already read several others or I don't know if I would continue... Also,if a writer is using a foreign language, he/she should be completely sure the words and phrases are correct. Several of the "spanish" words and expressions used were in fact portuguese and/or italian, and not even in a correct sentence. So no point in thanking who helped with that at the begginng of the book, as the help was clearly extremely poor.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ari Zapata

    It was just ok. I enjoyed the fact it took place in Cuba because it's such a magical place. Other than that, meh.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ape

    I've had this book for almost four years and I've now gotten around to reading it. I've read her other book, backpack, which was all right. This was.... not as good. It was all right, passed the time, but there wasn't the feeling of travel and adventure that I got from backpack; it just seemed to be more towards the standard side of chick lit things, with far too much about babies and breastfeeding (yawn) - had I known, I probably wouldn't have bothered with this book. I had hoped for more of I've had this book for almost four years and I've now gotten around to reading it. I've read her other book, backpack, which was all right. This was.... not as good. It was all right, passed the time, but there wasn't the feeling of travel and adventure that I got from backpack; it just seemed to be more towards the standard side of chick lit things, with far too much about babies and breastfeeding (yawn) - had I known, I probably wouldn't have bothered with this book. I had hoped for more of the Cuba experience, that this book didn't really do in any great way. The characters and the plotlines are very standard as well. I also found it depressing that books still aren't getting away from the body obsessions... I did get bored reading about how a size 14 is fat, shapeless and unattractive (which it's not by the way!). To be honest, as soon as any book feels the need to tell me a character's dress size, I loose a little respect for it. So, we've got Maggie who's messed up, not eating, stripping to pay her way and living in a basement flat in Brighton. Her sister's going to have a baby, so she buys some baby monitors as a present, tries them out in her flat and discovers that she's tuned into the monitors upstairs where Libby, David and baby Charlie are. She gets sucked into their lives like a soap opera and is devasted when they decide to move to Cuba so that David can learn Spanish. Unable to be apart from them, she quits stripping and moves to Cuba to enrol on the same course. And her annoying leggy blonde friend, Yasmin, decides to come to. There's the usual tensions of does so and so want to sleep with him/her; oh I've lost weight and feel like a new woman etc and then a crazy conclusion to the story. Good for beaches and boring flights I guess.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    More like 3.5 stars. I did enjoy this book, as I enjoy Emily Barr's writing so much, but this was not the best of her books. That said, I found it very entertaining and more than a little surprising. I didn't expect the story to go the way it did, but enjoyed it anyway. The main character was a bit of a nutjob, but it turned out she had a good reason for being the way she was. She was very "human", and I did have some sympathy for her. The other two main characters of Libby and David I am afraid I More like 3.5 stars. I did enjoy this book, as I enjoy Emily Barr's writing so much, but this was not the best of her books. That said, I found it very entertaining and more than a little surprising. I didn't expect the story to go the way it did, but enjoyed it anyway. The main character was a bit of a nutjob, but it turned out she had a good reason for being the way she was. She was very "human", and I did have some sympathy for her. The other two main characters of Libby and David I am afraid I did not like at all. I thought that they were well-written and believable though. Would I recommend this? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    In "Cuba" Emily Barr serves up her signature cocktail of chick lit and sociopolitical commentary. Just take some relationship pressures, mix in daddy issues, throw in a few repressed memories, the trade embargo, dual economy, add some simple syrup and top it off with a lime wedge. Mmmmm..... Delicious!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sharla

    Having read several of Emily Barr's books before I knew I would enjoy this one too. Quite a sinister turn in the story and I did feel the last bit was sort of rushed through.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Loved this book so much. One of my favorite authors by far.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zubs Malik

    Emily Barr’s ‘Cuban Heels’ is one of those brilliantly written fiction novels that makes it impossible for you to stop reading it. Despite having mixed feelings about some of the characters I loved the storyline and the big climax at the end. Following a break up from her long-term partner, Margaret ‘Maggie’ decides to move to Brighton from Scotland in the hope that he would eventually follow her. However, life is not as glamorous as what she initially assumed it would be and the iconic Emily Barr’s ‘Cuban Heels’ is one of those brilliantly written fiction novels that makes it impossible for you to stop reading it. Despite having mixed feelings about some of the characters I loved the storyline and the big climax at the end.  Following a break up from her long-term partner, Margaret ‘Maggie’ decides to move to Brighton from Scotland in the hope that he would eventually follow her. However, life is not as glamorous as what she initially assumed it would be and the iconic beachfront with its eclectic range of vintage boutiques offer her zero comfort. The only thing that she has to look forward to is coming home to a lonely basement flat and a job dancing at a nightclub called Vixen.  Her life picks up when she realises that she can overhear everything in her neighbours flat via a baby monitor she was testing after she purchased it for her pregnant sister. When she overhears her neighbour David tell his wife Libby that they are going on a sabbatical to Cuba with their infant son for a year Maggie catches the travelling bug. It isn’t long before she decides that David and Libby will not be going alone and then the real hidden tragedy that affected Maggie is slowly revealed.  This book is a great easy and light-hearted holiday read. It is written very well and requires no effort to get right into it. If you need a good book for your travels I would certainly recommend you picking this up.  Which brings me to a question for you all. What is the best destination that you have travelled to? Cape Town – South Africa was my absolute fave and I cannot wait to visit there again! .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    This book felt like it had a lot of promise to be kind of a chick-lit thriller, which I was very interested in. In the end, it just fizzled out for me and I found myself literally saying, "meh" as I flipped the final page. Potentially interesting characters that I wanted to know what happened to them, but, perhaps in the name of trying to make them "complex," Barr fell flat and just ended up making them not very compelling after all. I enjoyed the descriptions of living in Cuba though - this was This book felt like it had a lot of promise to be kind of a chick-lit thriller, which I was very interested in. In the end, it just fizzled out for me and I found myself literally saying, "meh" as I flipped the final page. Potentially interesting characters that I wanted to know what happened to them, but, perhaps in the name of trying to make them "complex," Barr fell flat and just ended up making them not very compelling after all. I enjoyed the descriptions of living in Cuba though - this was the best part of the book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    M-N

    I was looking for a good lets change my life in Cuba light read and that's what seemed to happen and then it got dark. It has a happy ending but no way that would have happened because of what happened . Though I did feel sorry for the lead character as others have mentioned I didn't like her and a few weeks in France with parents going for walks etc wouldn't cure the how far gone she had become...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Susan

    DrAwn by the title and summary when in a 2nd hand I enjoyed the mixture of characters Maggie, thin and haunted discovers more about her neighbours than intended. She is drawn into their world to the extent when they leave for foreign shores she follows them. Libby and David have a baby Charlie who has turned Libby’s world on its’s head so now she wants to runaway. Maggie’s character is many layered and the way we get to know her is through gradual revelations. Great read

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Boring.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    A really easy holiday read

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vickie Taylor

    I really liked this book! Maggie clearly had a mental illness and it was handled sensitively and more importantly believably without taking away from the story. Will read more by this author.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    An easy read. A bit far fetched in places. Havana sounds amazing and this book makes me want to go there. I won’t let this book put me off trying her others.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pooja Mahimkar

    Bored out of my wits

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Another excellent novel from Emily Barr. The characters are so complex and real that you really do feel for them. This was a very different premise for a novel and it worked really well.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Story took a strange turn that didn't really work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Mendy-Harrison

    A very very light read. Ridiculous plot and so silly stereotypes of high flying women... however some pertinent points towards the end of how the mind deals with trauma.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Marshall

    I found myself quite engrossed. I liked the character development, but had hoped for more of a sense of place in Cuba.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kiwiflora

    Ah, chick lit. What a delightful little divergence from the realities of our usually mundane lives of work, children, family, friends, dog walking, food shopping; peace and quiet, not necessarily in that particular order. Attractive, successful, slightly flawed heroine strikes a bit of a rocky patch; attractive, successful, not at all flawed hero in the background just waiting to pick up those broken pieces...a light frolicky bit of froth. And then there are the slightly darker novels, which Ah, chick lit. What a delightful little divergence from the realities of our usually mundane lives of work, children, family, friends, dog walking, food shopping; peace and quiet, not necessarily in that particular order. Attractive, successful, slightly flawed heroine strikes a bit of a rocky patch; attractive, successful, not at all flawed hero in the background just waiting to pick up those broken pieces...a light frolicky bit of froth. And then there are the slightly darker novels, which although distinctly still chick lit, have sinister overtones, characters who aren't what they appear to be, who do strange and peculiar things. As our heroine does in this particular story. Poor Maggie's life has fallen to bits. Her long term relationship is over and she has moved from Edinburgh all the way south to Brighton. Her job at American Express is actually something else, her parents live in France, her very pregnant sister in Norwich: she is lonely, depressed, directionless. Quite by chance she finds she can eavesdrop on the lives of a young couple, Libby and David, who live in the building she lives in. Libby has just had their first child and is having some trouble adjusting from being a high-powered lawyer to being a new mum. Maggie listens into all this and begins to see the couple as her only friends and yet she finds she can not actually bring herself to introduce herself or even contrive a meeting. David has the opportunity to learn Spanish for a year so that he can be in charge of his employer's Madrid office. And what better place to learn in than Cuba! Libby and David's decision throws Maggie into a complete tail spin and she resolves to also go to Cuba and become a part of this family who have become so important to her. Bizarre behaviour by any stretch of the imagination! Despite the very peculiar and ridiculous coincidence of Maggie just happening to be in Cuba and learning Spanish at exactly the same time as her neighbours, life for all three of our characters starts off very well. The three of them get on extremely well and Maggie finally feels as if she has found a place to belong and people to belong to. But lingering over everything that Maggie says, thinks and does is the tragedy of her younger sister's death when Maggie was just thirteen years old. It takes a while for this to be disclosed to the reader, and as we find out more of what drives Maggie, slowly the delicate wall of self protection she has built around herself begins to crumble away. All of course is satisfactorily resolved in the end, but it is a bit of dark and deadly path before we get to that point. I know chick lit is escapist, but at times this did stretch the imagination! It is a deeper story than your average chick lit, and actually quite well written. Characters are believable and well rounded, and the plot addresses a number of issues probably quite pertinent to many modern young women - relationships, ticking biological clock, adjustment to motherhood, sexual abuse, the nature of friendship, and how our modern lives contribute to loneliness and isolation in our communities. I don't read a lot of chick lit because it can all be a bit fluffy and ridiculous, but this was a good story, with a number of unexpected occurrences and I really quite liked it. I now want to go to Havana - just as interesting a character as the real people in the story. Not so sure about Brighton however...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really like Barr’s writing style and how she turns an exciting chick-lit travel book into a psychological thriller. There is always a good twist in the tale to her stories. This was the story of Maggie. Maggie lived in Brighton and was pretty unhappy with her lot. She felt she had no friends, an unhappy past of boyfriends and she stripped for a living, lying to her family about her job. The only excitement in Maggie's life is when she discovers by accident that she can overhear everything I really like Barr’s writing style and how she turns an exciting chick-lit travel book into a psychological thriller. There is always a good twist in the tale to her stories. This was the story of Maggie. Maggie lived in Brighton and was pretty unhappy with her lot. She felt she had no friends, an unhappy past of boyfriends and she stripped for a living, lying to her family about her job. The only excitement in Maggie's life is when she discovers by accident that she can overhear everything going on in the flat next door through a baby monitor she buys for her pregnant sister in Norwich. Living next door are Libby and David who have recently added to their family with the birth of little Charlie. Libby is struggling with being a mother and David is itching to go off travelling. When eventually he persuades Libby to take the family to Cuba, they don’t realise they will not be going alone – Maggie plans to join them. She plans everything to become their friends, enrolling on David’s Spanish course and basically infiltrating herself into their family. This is when things start to get a bit weird. We gradually begin to see the cracks appearing in Maggie’s psychological state and we learn that it is down to the loss of her younger sister at the hands of a paedophile who was in fact their friend’s dad when Maggie was 13. She has never managed to come to terms with this and grieve properly and now all her problems are rearing their ugly heads. The book is far from accurate in some facts and in the use of the Spanish language, but that doesn’t detract from how enjoyable and engaging the story itself is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rianna Rowsell

    I finished it, but not because I really wanted to. Every time I was about to give up, something would make me think "this will explain why I need to care" - it would explain, but I still didn't like or empathise with any of the characters.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Natalie TBGWP

    ** Not a proper review, This is from my Blast from the past - Book of the month section from my website. This is July 2013 book of the month and my reasons why.** I chose Cuban Heels by Emily Barr as it was the first book I read after becoming a mum. I was lost in a world of depression/baby blues and had lost me and my enjoyment in anything I previously did. One afternoon my husband asked why don't I go have a lie down and read for a bit. I wasn't fussed as I'd tried previously and couldn't get ** Not a proper review, This is from my Blast from the past - Book of the month section from my website. This is July 2013 book of the month and my reasons why.** I chose Cuban Heels by Emily Barr as it was the first book I read after becoming a mum. I was lost in a world of depression/baby blues and had lost me and my enjoyment in anything I previously did. One afternoon my husband asked why don't I go have a lie down and read for a bit. I wasn't fussed as I'd tried previously and couldn't get into it. I knew I had nothing new so I took a trip down to my local library and picked up a copy of Cuban heels. Just being in that library that day browsing the books everywhere all calm and fabulous I felt really good. That night when I started reading I was enticed by the drama, secrets and danger Cuban Heels offered. I was transported into words and I wasn't Natalie Gray anymore I was Maggie Wilson and my life was a million times worse than that of Natalie Gray. It's books like these that allow us to escape real life just for a bit and give us strength to focus on reality with a different perspective. I owe a big thank you to Emily Barr because without these book I would never have tried to understand the feelings I was having and sought help for it. I wasn't letting my demons get me like Maggie, no way.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Randall

    This is my first ever Emily Barr book....I’m not the biggest fan of chic lit these days but I picked it up at the uncon and started reading it because I was intrigued to see what Barr has to offer and why she is so popular. I quite like how she's laid out the book, Maggie's chapter vs. Libby's....after reading the front though, I suspect my first Barr book should have been Backpack, Baggage and Atlantic Shift...never mind. It wasn't a bad little story and it kept me turning the pages...I wanted This is my first ever Emily Barr book....I’m not the biggest fan of chic lit these days but I picked it up at the uncon and started reading it because I was intrigued to see what Barr has to offer and why she is so popular. I quite like how she's laid out the book, Maggie's chapter vs. Libby's....after reading the front though, I suspect my first Barr book should have been Backpack, Baggage and Atlantic Shift...never mind. It wasn't a bad little story and it kept me turning the pages...I wanted to find out the details of Maggie's past which was the main incentive to keep reading. I wasn't convinced of the ending though...I honestly don't see it as a realistic ending...mind you having enough cash to just fly off to Cuba and live there for several months might be a bit convenient too so maybe I’m just too critical!!! Near the end of the book there was talk of a baby walking before his 1st birthday...I know of a few babies that started walking when they were over 1 years old....so does that mean Barr knows of a particularly abled baby or just doesn't know her facts concerning babies yet...or are the babies i know just slow to walk!? Not a bad little read, best for holiday reading though if you ask me!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The main Girl in this book pissed me off so much. You were supposed to feel sympathy for her because she was kind of crazy, but she was crazy for something that happened to her when she was a child and now she is almost 30. I did not. Girl who doesn’t have much of a life, discovers that the baby monitors she bought for her sister picks up reception of her neighbours. She spies on them. She wants to be friends with them. When she discovers they are going off to live in Cuba, she follows them. I’m The main Girl in this book pissed me off so much. You were supposed to feel sympathy for her because she was kind of crazy, but she was crazy for something that happened to her when she was a child and now she is almost 30. I did not. Girl who doesn’t have much of a life, discovers that the baby monitors she bought for her sister picks up reception of her neighbours. She spies on them. She wants to be friends with them. When she discovers they are going off to live in Cuba, she follows them. I’m sorry, but EW! And CREEPY! She “runs into” the guy at university where they are both going to learn Spanish. Her friend that she doesn’t have a good past with follows her there and the Girl gets mad about that because she doesn’t want her interrupting her life. Like I care. Everyone was annoying and books with crazy people kind of annoy me. Especially when they don’t get what is coming to them. Blah. The book actually wasn’t that badly written. It was easy to follow with a good amount of characters; I just didn’t like the subject matter. Grade: C-

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Walsh

    This was an intresting take on Travel Fiction which can sometimes be a little bland. What started out as a relatively simple read quickly became very dark. Margaret carries enough suspense with her to keep the reader engaged (or at least engaged enough to find out why she's seriously crazy). Even the neatly bundled up conclusion didn't throw a bright light on an otherwise twisted story. Barr gets top marks for incorporating a dark tale into an otherwise subtly beautiful environment, use of This was an intresting take on Travel Fiction which can sometimes be a little bland. What started out as a relatively simple read quickly became very dark. Margaret carries enough suspense with her to keep the reader engaged (or at least engaged enough to find out why she's seriously crazy). Even the neatly bundled up conclusion didn't throw a bright light on an otherwise twisted story. Barr gets top marks for incorporating a dark tale into an otherwise subtly beautiful environment, use of interesting props (use of the child monitor to listen on her neighbors was pretty interesting)and characther development. What I didn't like was her style of bundling up the story to make a quick conclusion, the prospect of the main character going from bad to worse and the actual lack of likeable individuals in the story. All in all, for anbody going to Cuba, well......its probably worth a look at. Brighton, on the other hand, looked terrible.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bev Taylor

    this is also entitled cuban heels bored with your life? steal someone else's ...... after maggie was ditched by her boyfriend of 5 years she moved to brighton. unable to find a job she ended up as a lap dancer but told everyone else she worked for amex good advertisement! she has no friends but when she bought a baby monitor for her sister she finds it tunes into the same frequency as the couple upstairs with a young son and so begins a 'remote' friendship discovering they r moving to cuba for 6 this is also entitled cuban heels bored with your life? steal someone else's ...... after maggie was ditched by her boyfriend of 5 years she moved to brighton. unable to find a job she ended up as a lap dancer but told everyone else she worked for amex good advertisement! she has no friends but when she bought a baby monitor for her sister she finds it tunes into the same frequency as the couple upstairs with a young son and so begins a 'remote' friendship discovering they r moving to cuba for 6 months she decides to follow them and at the same university as the father strikes up an actual friendship her friend tasmin is always on her heels - a glamourous blonde who happened to steal one of her boyfriends. but maggies has her own secrets to hide told in alternating chapters by maggie and libby, the wife to be honest i found the one difficult to get into as i found it hard to equate to the characters. would give it 3.5 stars bev

  30. 4 out of 5

    Minty McBunny

    I pulled this book off my shelf, as Id run out of library books for the week. Back in the early 2000's, I was flying round trip from Seattle to London every month and I went through a ton of books. This was one of them, and I didn't remember much about it, aside from that I liked it better than the other two books I had by the same author. As far as chick lit goes, I think it's a cut above average. Back when I first read it, the whole unreliable narrator thing wasn't so common, so I was really I pulled this book off my shelf, as Id run out of library books for the week. Back in the early 2000's, I was flying round trip from Seattle to London every month and I went through a ton of books. This was one of them, and I didn't remember much about it, aside from that I liked it better than the other two books I had by the same author. As far as chick lit goes, I think it's a cut above average. Back when I first read it, the whole unreliable narrator thing wasn't so common, so I was really taken by surprise by all the turns we see Maggie go through and her relationships with the people around her. I think it's a well-done beach read that tackles some weightier issues than romance and self-esteem.

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