In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future.
But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them.
The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.
And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family.
Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.
May 1939, Havana, Cuba
‘It’s so warm, Papa. It’s still night, but it’s so warm!’
Professor Carl Mueller smiled down at his daughter, holding his hand at the rail of the S.S. St Louis, the ship that had been their refuge, their salvation, as it slipped slowly through the darkness towards the sleeping city. A sense of relief washed over him, like the caress of the tropical breeze.
‘We’re in the Tropics, Anna. It’s always warm here.’
Anna gazed at the shimmering lights of the city strung out along the shore. ‘Look! It’s like one of Mama’s diamond necklaces!’
‘She hasn’t got them anymore!’ snapped her elder brother, Hans, in German. ‘We had to sell them to get on the boat!’
‘Because of your stupid Nazis!’ replied Anna fierily.
‘The Nazis are not stupid!’
‘Children, children, don’t fight!’ said their father firmly, but gently. ‘And please remember we must speak English now.’
Hans snorted his annoyance, but said nothing.
As the deep throb of the engines slackened below their feet, they fell quiet. The scent of wet palms and exotic blooms filled Anna’s nostrils. She breathed deeply. At twelve years old her life was beginning again. She breathed deeply once more. It was the smell of freedom.
‘It looks so beautiful, Papa. Our new home.’
‘It isn’t our home!’ retorted Hans. His father looked at him. Hans continued in English. ‘Germany is our home, isn’t it, Father! Our Fatherland.’
‘Perhaps one day, my son, it will be again. Until then…’ His voice tailed off.
In silence, they listened to the dark swell slapping against the iron ship, each momentarily lost in their own thoughts, dreams and fears.
‘Is that a fort, Father?’, asked Hans suddenly.
The dim bulk of El Morro, its huge cannon guarding the entrance to the harbour, loomed out of the black water, hunkered against the lightening sky.
‘It looks like it, Hans.’
‘Who built it? Is it still used? Do the cannons fire?’
Carl Mueller smiled. ‘I don’t know. We shall have to find out.’
‘I want to explore everything, Papa!’ Anna said excitedly. ‘I shall learn Spanish and learn everything about Cuba!’
Her father smiled at her again, but beneath the smile there was deep sadness. There was one person who could teach Anna everything about the island. A charming, lively, intelligent man who would make the perfect guide to their new home. He didn’t know if the man had ever returned to the island, his home. But, if he had, Carl Mueller fervently hoped that they would never meet him.
About the author
Harry Duffin is an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s ‘Eastenders’ and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for ‘Coronation Street’.
He was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner.
He was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘The Tribe’, which ran for five series.
He has written three novels, Chicago May, Birth of the Mall Rats [an intro to the TV series ‘The Tribe’], and Island of Dreams, which will be published in December 2022.
Chicago May is the first book of a two-part series: www.chicagomay.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harry-Duffin/e/B005KR3E74
This title will be available on Amazon and on #KindleUnlimited.