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Empress of the Splendid Season

by Oscar Hijuelos

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337475,901 (3.45)5
Oscar Hijuelos vividly brings to life the joys, desires, and disappointment of American life witnessed through the experience of a formerly prosperous Cuban emigre named Lydia Espana--now a cleaning woman in New York. In magnetic prose, he juxtaposes Lydia's tale with the stories of her clients, contrasting her experiences with the secret lives of those for whom she works. No one writes better of love or the pulse of a city, nor has any writer better captured the complexity inherent in the emigration experience; how assimilation is at once the achievement of dreams, yet also a loss of the past. Empress of the Splendid Season is Hijuelos at his masterful best, a novel filled with incantatory, rhythmic prose and rich in heartfelt vision.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
I'm a huge Hijuelos fan, but this book didn't do it for me. It felt tired and plodding compared to the passion and music of Mambo Kings, 14 Sisters, even Beautiful Maria. ( )
  ninaksimon | Oct 18, 2010 |
I didn't know what to expect when I bought this book, but the title and the cover looked promising so I bought it.

It was a great story, powered by unusual characters and situations. I enjoyed it. And years before I saw the movie adaptation of one of his other novels, The Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love. ( )
  MsNikki | Aug 2, 2007 |
The central character, Lydia Espana, is a Cuban immigrant from a wealthy family reduced to working as a cleaning woman in New York City. She is completely credible and her constant feeling that she is better than her lot in life is poignant. She is every person that every said "I'm not really a waitress" or "I'm not really a bartender". The story of the assimilation of her two children is also universal. Her son becomes a successful psychotherapist, but is always haunted by the idea that he is "just the son of a cleaning woman and a waiter". The writing is not especially memorable, but the attention to the details of every day life creates a vivid impression. ( )
  theageofsilt | Oct 26, 2006 |
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Oscar Hijuelos vividly brings to life the joys, desires, and disappointment of American life witnessed through the experience of a formerly prosperous Cuban emigre named Lydia Espana--now a cleaning woman in New York. In magnetic prose, he juxtaposes Lydia's tale with the stories of her clients, contrasting her experiences with the secret lives of those for whom she works. No one writes better of love or the pulse of a city, nor has any writer better captured the complexity inherent in the emigration experience; how assimilation is at once the achievement of dreams, yet also a loss of the past. Empress of the Splendid Season is Hijuelos at his masterful best, a novel filled with incantatory, rhythmic prose and rich in heartfelt vision.

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