For some Europeans fleeing the gathering Holocaust on the Continent, the bright wash of Cuba's azure skies and sparkling sands offered a last refuge. For Suze, a strong, seductive woman who saved her family from Hitler's Jewish witch-hunt with her Magda Lupescu-an appeal and wile, Havana meant life and freedom after their determined, often desperate, flight across Europe and the Atlantic.
But for Claudia, Suze's blond, blue-eyed adolescent daughter, the Latin tempo and allure of upper-class Catholic society are too tempting and draw her away from her parents and their expatriate community and into the friendships and parties of Cuba's pre-Castro gilded set. Her Aryan features and skill at "passing" allow her to recast her identity for the circumstance, and each time deny her own feeling of rootlessness.
One evening, at a party at the Havana Yacht Club, she falls in love with a young German, who does not know she is Jewish, and Claudia is caught up in a taboo relationship both frightening and erotic.
Claudia's story explores another side of the Holocaust: about Jews who escaped to exotic places only to rediscover their heritage of homelessness; and about both the psychology of self-hate and the inner strength of individuals who survive. Novelist and screenwriter Edmundo Desnoes sums it up this way: "Is love or is history the answer? If you read Passing Through Havana you will discover the price of both."