Island of Dreams
by Harry Duffin
Publication Date: December 2022
Publisher: Cumulus Publishing
Genre: Historical Family Saga
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.
Havana’s Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón is known as one of the world’s most captivating cemeteries. It is enormous, grandiose and eccentric.
‘The Cristóbal Colón?’ said Freddie. ‘But Carl wasn’t Catholic.’
Esther had gathered Freddie and Hans together to discuss the funeral arrangements.
‘Everyone gets buried there,’ she said. ‘Everyone important.’
‘If they are Catholic,’ said Freddie.
‘But you’re not being buried, Mama,’ said Hans.
She looked at him. Hans shrugged and avoided her eyes. The look was enough.
‘I am the next of kin, Freddie. I think Carl would have wanted that.’
Knowing that Esther had never visited Carl when he was dying, Freddie said, ‘Why, did you ask him?’
Despite Freddie’s objections, it was Esther’s event. She had it her way. Mrs Price altered Esther’s most elegant black dress, which she wore with the diamond necklace. On his mother’s instructions, Hans paid for the most magnificent wreaths for the coffin, and Carlotta was made to scrub Klaus to within an inch of his life. Esther wanted to put on a show.
But there were few people at the ceremony. The family, Carlotta, a few of Professor Carls’ poorer patients and an elegant woman Freddie didn’t recognise. It wasn’t Isabel Luisa Gonzales Rio de Cruz. ‘La Isabel’ exerted a powerful influence among the elite. None of her circle came.
Freddie stood a step back from the small group surrounding the flower-festooned grave of the man he had helped to die. He looked around him, anxiously. She would come, he felt it. Despite the danger, she would come. As the black-frocked priest droned beneath the fierce sky, Freddie surveyed the vast sweep of marble tombs, cold, even in heat of the sun, that surrounded the tiny group of mourners.
The ornate cemetery looked deserted, but he knew they were there. Invisible, deadly, concealed among the lavish tombs of Havana’s famous and wealthy dead; crouching beside the weeping angels, the praying Madonna’s, the mock castles of granite and the towering black pyramid, last resting place of the city’s most celebrated and scandalous lovers – they were there. Hiding behind those final monuments to vanity, cradling their weapons, believing she would take up the challenge.
His heart thumped heavily inside the damp cotton shirt and linen jacket. Reaching inside, he felt the butt of the gun he had brought from Hans. He hadn’t fired a gun since he’d fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. It felt foolish to have one now, but he was prepared to give up his life to defend her.
She was brave and headstrong, and she would come, somehow. Freddie craved and feared it at the same time. ‘Craved’ – the word revealed his age as much as his feelings. Foolish old man, harbouring such dreams. Dreams he had promised himself she would never know.
They were dreams she had given him. For he had none when the ship sailed into the harbour all those years ago. She had brought him her dreams, bright as that May morning, as innocent as he was corrupt…
Harry 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.
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