It has been said that ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’, and so it has proved with many of the people who inspired the semi-fictional characters in Leonard Flama’s previous book set in Cuba, The Valley of the Innocents. Over the course of four visits to the area, the author has had the privilege of getting to know the real people better, along with their families, friends and neighbours. Having been invited into their homes and closely observed their tribulations, sorrows and joys, he offers a rare insight into their lives, accompanied by evocative descriptions of his sensory impressions of their environment. The sympathies and attachments he formed with these people impelled his desire to try and help them in some constructive way. Whether as a travel journal or as a piece of social history placed in the context of Cuban culture, politics, economics and current affairs, this makes for a compelling read.