Empress of the Splendid Season

by Oscar Hijuelos

Hardcover, 1999

Call number





Harper (1999), Edition: 1st, 352 pages


In 1940s New York, a rich man's daughter from Cuba falls in love with a waiter. They marry, have children and when he falls ill and is unable to work, she becomes the sole breadwinner, working as a cleaning woman. But one day her cleaning job will bring luck. By the author of Mr. Ives' Christmas.

User reviews

LibraryThing member theageofsilt
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.… (more)
LibraryThing member MsNikki
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.… (more)
LibraryThing member ninaksimon
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.




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