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Empress of the Splendid Season

About the Book

Empress of the Splendid Season

Empress of the Splendid Season, Oscar Hijuelos' fifth novel, tells the story of the beautiful Lydia Espana, an emigre from pre-Castro Cuba who lives and works on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Once the spoiled, pampered daughter of a small town mayor, Lydia has been banished from Cuba by her father because of a youthful sexual indiscretion, and finds employment cleaning the apartments of New Yorkers much better off than herself. She is wooed and wedded by Raul, a waiter with a weak heart, who calls her "the Empress... of the most beautiful and splendid season, which is love." As Raul's health falters, Lydia--now the mother of two children, Rico and Alicia--must struggle to keep her family afloat. Amidst the turmoil of Spanish Harlem in the 1960's, Lydia attempts to hold her clan together and maintain her proud Cuban heritage. But as the years pass and her life of hard labor takes it toll, "Lydia the Empress" is forced to come to terms with the reality of her life as one of the working poor. As she goes from apartment to apartment uncovering her clients' secret lives, Hijuelos weaves a portrait--not just of one family's complex road toward assimilation, but of a pulsing, vibrant, and dangerous New York City . . . a city of music and dreams, a city of love and loss.

Empress of the Splendid Season
by Oscar Hijuelos

  • Publication Date: January 5, 2000
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060928700
  • ISBN-13: 9780060928704