The London Free Press
Sat, March 11, 2006
By YVONNE CRITTENDEN, SPECIAL TO THE FREE PRESS
Queen of the Underworld
By Gail Godwin
Random House, $34.95
It's 1959 in Miami and the first exiles from Fidel Castro's Cuban takeover flood into Florida.
Emma Gant, fresh out of college, gets a job at a Miami newspaper and settles into life at a hotel that's quickly filling up with Cuban refugees.
With sympathy, insight and wit, Godwin looks at history happening on the run as both the Cubans and the young journalist begin new lives.
The Cubans desperately hope Castro's reign will be short-lived, but throw themselves into the jobs available, no matter how menial.
Emma is in the throes of a romance with a married man back home in North Carolina but can't help being attracted to the handsome young Cuban helping run the hotel. And as she gets embroiled in stories about the colourful characters filling Miami, including a retired madam known as the Queen of the Underworld, her perspective on the world opens up dramatically.
The reader eagerly hopes for a sequel.