Read Empress of the Splendid Season by Oscar Hijuelos Online


Oscar Hijuelos vividly brings to life the joys, desires, and disappointment of American life witnessed through the experience of a formerly prosperous Cuban émigré 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.Oscar Hijuelos vividly brings to life the joys, desires, and disappointment of American life witnessed through the experience of a formerly prosperous Cuban émigré 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....

Title : Empress of the Splendid Season
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060928704
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Empress of the Splendid Season Reviews

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-05-25 16:01

    I was enthralled with Hijuelos's upcoming release, Beautiful Maria of My Soul so when I ran across this in the library, I literally jumped up and down and made some gleeful noises. However, Hijuelos's previous work, namely this particular novel, did not live up to my expectations. Around page 125 or thereabouts I started wondering.. "What is the plot? What the heck is this about, really?" It's written somewhat like a biography about a fictional Cuban American maid, Lydia. Lydia cleans rich people's apartments and fantasizes about being like them. She is always trying to be someone she is not or at least give them the impression that she is better than those around her. Her husband has a bad heart. Her daughter is sexually curious Beatles fan and her son has a near miss with a life of crime. Basically, it is about a family living in the 1960s in New York. That's it. They just happen to be Cuban, but very little Cuban culture comes to light in any part of the novel. BORING!I stuck with it because I had no other book on my person today. However, in the end, I did realize that there was a moral to the story. "Money doesn't necessarily mean happiness. You can be poor and happy or rich and miserable or vise versa." Hopefully, Lydia realizes that before it is too late.

  • Karis North
    2019-06-07 17:08

    Meh. Too many short vignettes. Not enough plot or flow. Felt like I was always being distracted. Wanted Moore Cuba, less Bronx.

  • Russell Sanders
    2019-05-22 17:01

    I am a huge fan of Oscar Hijuelos. I love that he somehow accomplishes a Cuban rhythm that lies underneath his writing. It is as if a Caribbean breeze softly wafts a bolero constantly as I read. His novel Empress of the Spendid Season is no different: that captivating melody pervades it. And I was once again transported to the seductive world of Oscar Hijuelos. That being said, this is my least favorite of the five books of his that I’ve read. This one has its charms and is certainly a worthwhile read, but I just didn’t fall in love with it as I did with the others. I think it is because it has very little plot, and while the episodes in the life of Cuban immigrant Lydia Espana are rich and satisfying, there is no linear development of her life and those around her. That, however, is also the charm of the book, for Hijuelos seems to be interested in showing the simple life of a Cuban immigrant and how it is not much different from those of other cultures here in America. Once again, the characters reside in that great melting pot New York City. As with so many immigrants, Lydia is thrust into a world different from the life she led in Cuba, and she must sink or swim. Early in the story, in order to support her family, she becomes a cleaning lady, a job that does not jibe with the privileged life she led in her home country. This, too, is so indicative of many immigrants’ lives. We’ve heard of doctors in Vietnam who became day laborers when they came to the states, so Lydia’s plight is quite believable. And yet, she becomes a great housekeeper, one who is proud of her work and her clients. She never lets her diminished circumstances get her down. Her husband Raul, a dreamer, is the one who dubs her the Empress of the Splendid Season, and that title is both ironic and not. Never does Lydia become anything approaching the American equivalent of an empress, but she never loses sight that she has worth and deserves respect. She also is always striving for a better life and striving to make a better life for her two children. So this is a story of perseverance, of gain, of the best choices made. Hijuelos is a master craftsman, and though I deem this one of his lesser works, it is far better than the best of many authors.

  • Heli
    2019-06-09 16:21

    Kirjan nimi ja kansi ovat sellaiset, etten olisi muuten tullut tarttuneeksi kirjaan, ellen olisi löytänyt sitä yliopiston kirjaston kahvilasta. Ilmeni, että nide on kiertävä BookCrossing-kirja. Otin sen mukaani, vaikka takakansiteksti oli ällöttävän adjektiivinen. Nyt kahden vuoden säilyttelyn jälkeen sain vihdoinkin luettua kirjan loppuun.Kirja koostuu enimmäkseen lyhyistä episodeista, joissa kerrotaan välähdyksiä kuubalaistaustaisen siivoojattaren elämästä Yhdysvalloissa. Merkitsin romaanin myös novellikategoriaan, koska episodeja voi lukea myös irrallisina novelleina (ja niin olenkin lukenut aina muutaman silloin tällöin). Päähenkilöt tulivat niin tutuiksi, että nyt kaksivuotisen tuttavuuden päätyttyä tuli lähes haikea olo.Huomasin palaavani kirjan pariin usein silloin, kun kaipasin jotain aivot narikkaan -viihdettä. Teksti on nimittäin sen verran maukasta, helppo- ja nopealukuista sekä mukavalla tavalla jaarittelevaa. Lukiessa tuntui siltä, kuin olisi käynyt kahvilla milloin kenenkin henkilön kanssa ja kuunnellut hänen tarinointiaan.Oikein mukava ja lämminhenkinen opus karmeasta ulkoasustaan huolimatta.

  • Roger DeBlanck
    2019-05-31 23:08

    Hijuelos takes a discerning and compassionate look at the struggles that Cuban immigrants must face between assimilation and preserving cultural identity in his novel Empress of the Splendid Season. It tells the story of Lydia and Raul Espana, Cuban immigrants living in New York City. Lydia cleans houses and Raul waits tables. The novel recognizes the conflicts among cultures, the splits between generations, the role of women in society, and the decay of values. Hijuelos charts the hardworking life of Lydia and Raul in great detail. He examines their adjacent pasts, interweaving successes with sadness and hardship, as they work to balance their Cuban identity with the forces of American culture. The novel also examines the lives of the Espana children, Alicia and Rico, who represent second-generation immigrant characters.

  • Alicia Tompkins
    2019-05-23 23:16

    The book was descriptive of the main characters fall from limited glory, her coming to terms or not with that, her relationship with her children and the people she worked for. I found it interesting in sort of an anthropological way but I was not drawn into any of the characters.

  • Sarah Breidenbach
    2019-05-30 20:07

    Somewhat interesting, but completely lacking drama and suspense.

  • Margaret Collins
    2019-06-04 18:00

    I don't usually leave reviews because I'm very picky about what I read. I won't even open a book if I don't think I'll like it. So, it seems odd to review books I was predisposed to like. Anyway, I picked this up for free I think; I have read some stories about Cuban immigrants and exiles and I thought it would be interesting. Then I saw he wrote The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. How could I not like it, right? He won a Pulitzer Prize for it! But, even putting aside the casual sexism (which is why I, for the most part, don't read men authors anymore), I really, really didn't like the writing. I kept getting bored and starting to think about something else. But the story was really great, and I wanted to know what happened. I don't believe it has ever taken me 6 days to read a 342 page book. It felt like homework. His sentences are, like, a half a page long, and, I think are supposed to conjure poetry and mysticism, but they're just annoying. And, after all that, the characters remained very flat. Hardly any of them were likable, but I don't mind that if it's told well. I've read women writers who were Cuban, and they are poetic and non-linear and many characters only speak Spanish. But they just do it all so much better.

  • Marsha
    2019-05-21 23:05

    I'd like to give this a 4.5. Hijuelos beautifully crafted novel that seems to ramble, but never leaves the crux of its story gives the reader a birds eye view of what it is to be a emigre-in this case Cuban-in the US. And it is more than that, as it is novel that deeply probes its characters through the passage of their day, their inner thoughts and the stories they tell about others that people their life. I am a fan of Latin American writers and Hijuelos is a star among them.

  • Karen
    2019-06-15 22:01

    Another wonderful book! This woman is from Cuba--she was banished by her angry father for a youthful sexual indiscretion. She lives in Spanish Harlem and works for a wealthy NYC family. The story tells about her family--her husband who calls her his "Empress--of the splendid season which is love" and has a chronic illness which limits his $$ contributions to the family. Her children struggle to grow up with varying amts of pain and drama--it all adds up to another wonderful read. She works so hard--these women all brought to my mind and my heart the helping people that have always been part of my life and reminded me of how I loved each one of them--Sara, who worked for my mother and grandmother as well as for me and always had a day for me when I would come back to NY state while my husband had an "overseas" (read "went to war" tour. Mary, who did all the work in the house for 7 years when we lived in NC--and all in one day a week for $35.00. Mrs. Martin, a 70 yr old widow sat for my children while I did Marine Corps wife things in Kansas, Suchiko, who cleaned and ironed for us in Okinawa, and my sweet Lorena who does it all here in Phoenix. It's been my privilege to know and love these women, and they have each one given me gifts of the spirit as well as organizing me and keeping me going! That's why I have enjoyed this series of books so very much.

  • Olivia
    2019-05-19 21:11

    I keep thinking maybe I didn't get what I was supposed to get out of this book. I kept waiting for something plot-like to happen, and it never really seemed to. It jumps around chronologically and I couldn't figure out why. Perhaps there were common themes connecting the vignettes, but if so they weren't obvious to me. I wondered if the time-jumping was just to make it seem like there was more to the book. I finished it and said, "That's it?" I still recommended it to a few family members. I thought maybe being Cuban (instead of just half-Cuban) they might get more out of it. We'll see.

  • Karen
    2019-05-30 22:10

    I took this out of Elizabeth's famous book box. It actually looked dull and doesn't start fast, but I'm hooked. I love books about people who are very average but with some kind of special spark. I shouldn't have picked this up right now though. I need to start and /or finsh three others.Finished some time ago-- WOW! I wish I could find a copy of Mambo Kings. The Empress is a wonderful book-- now one of my very favorites. Many books I love but don't press on others. This one though-- READ IT!!!

  • Whitney
    2019-05-22 20:06

    There is something beautiful about following this woman's life as a New York house cleaner, but it doesn't exactly push forward very quickly and it seems to lack in plot. I thought it was good but I subtracted a star because I don't know who I would recommend it to. I suppose I would give it to an avid reader who is looking for something slow and steady, but if I tried to give it to a young adult I can almost guarantee they would get bored with it.

  • Marguerite
    2019-05-19 20:13

    I liked it, but nowhere near as much as I expected I would. Lydia comes off as more annoying than anything else -- unless it's haughty without reason. A couple of scenes in the latter third of the book -- one involving voyeurism and the other religion -- seem gratuitous, even faked. The pacing was decent, and there was a nice story arc. I especially liked the New York details.

  • itpdx
    2019-06-10 21:03

    Nothing much happens in this book--just a whole life time. Lydia is a delightful woman who comes from a privileged Cuban family. She ends up as a cleaning woman in New York City. She has her strengths and weaknesses (why must we repeat the errors of our parents when we raise our own children?). Senor Hijuelos is good story teller.

  • Kristin
    2019-05-25 20:04

    Pretty good book about the immigrant experience. Reading it while living in Berlin, I can really relate to alot of the language difficulties that the characters deal with. I thought it would have more of a magic-realist element so I was disappointed in that vein.

  • Ak
    2019-06-05 15:15

    eh... it was not well shaped, and the omniscient voice wasn't very convincing; sometimes its tone was jarringly current. Still, I liked it better than most novels that are so devoid of dialogue, and the characters were reasonably absorbing.

  • Martine Taylor
    2019-06-11 19:13

    Somewhat disjointed and unfortunately lacks some of the energy of the Mambo Kings. Liked the mom reflecting on her life, her marriage, kids, aging.

  • Crystal
    2019-05-27 15:13

    I loved one of his later works - Beautiful Maria of My Soul. One of his first works, Empress of the Splendid Season, just wasn't as good. I couldn't even finish it.

  • Glenna
    2019-05-22 18:59

    The main character is fascinating and all the characters and situations are very believable. I really enjoyed the author's asides and commentaries about New York and the culture.

  • Bonnie G
    2019-06-05 22:24

    I have enjoyed this author in the past and I love the NYC setting, but the plot just lingers, moving forward by millimeters.

  • Nissa Gossom
    2019-05-29 16:15

    Hated it, could finish it

  • Jack Goodstein
    2019-05-30 20:23

    Story of Cuban cleaning lady's struggles to make a life in the United States.

  • Georgiana
    2019-05-30 18:17

    A tugging, poignant account of the immigrant experience in America.

  • Jackie
    2019-05-31 14:57

    LOVE this book, and love other works by this author! I read it while laying on the beach in Chicago and got terribly sunburned because I kept reading and lost track of time.

  • Rudy
    2019-06-05 15:57

    Without plot

  • Steph
    2019-06-11 20:54

    How I love the beautiful prose and finely constructed sentences of Oscar Hijuelos. Then there are his characters! Lydia is a rich (if sometimes shallow) character whom the reader cares about.

  • Laura Edwards
    2019-05-22 19:02

    Beautifully written. My favorite of all his books.