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In a sequel of sorts to The Mambo King Play Songs of Love, Hijuelos examines the life of the muse of that novel as she moves from childhood to the fast lane in mid-20th century Cuba. María enchants whether she's dancing in clubs, appearing in advertisements, or walking the sweltering streets of Havana. Her story is one of fierce love, luscious sex, and otherworldly beauty, but also of heartbreak and hardness, as she carries painful memories of the death of her sister and her dear mother. The two main men in her life are Ignacio, a nefarious, strong-willed businessman who provides poor María with extravagant clothes and an apartment, and Nestor, a poor musician whom she loves passionately. Less prominent but still present is María's daughter, Teresa, and her growing up in America. Hijuelos's Havana is as much a full-fleshed character as María as it endures the rise of Castro and the mass exodus of Cubans to Miami in the 1960s. An intelligent and playful ending caps off a vivid story that should delight readers of The Mambo Kings and enthrall those new to Hijuelos's imaginative and florid voice. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Though Beautiful Maria of My Soul may not match the emotional depth of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, critics generally considered Hijuelos's new novel a success. A seasoned storyteller, Hijuelos vividly evokes the vibrant lost world of prerevolutionary Havana, the Cuban Revolution, and modern-day Miami, and he audaciously inserts himself into the narrative's contemporary scenes to bring the story full circle--a device commended by the critics. However, Maria, defined by her appearance, fails to develop into a full-fledged character, and Hijuelos's relentless reminders of her extraordinary beauty and her effect on men grow tedious. Some readers may also object to the book's robust sexuality. Despite these complaints, Beautiful Maria of My Soul is a welcome expansion on the much-loved The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, as well as a finely written novel in its own right. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
I would have enjoyed this book if the author spent more time on character development, instead of Maria's perfect "assets". Read morePublished 5 months ago by TLP
Having visited Cuba in July 2013 I looked forward to reading this book and was pleased to find it mentioned many of the places we had visited. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Rita Lucey
I would have preferred to get the Spanish edition.
I have met women like this. You can't get them out
of your mind for the rest of your life.
The first half of the book went on forever about how beautiful Maria was. The second half of the book improved somewhat, but I would not recommend this book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Betty Fullard-Leo
A tale well told with music and color and dare I say passion. This copy is now in the hands of its third reader who has sworn an oath to return it.Published 20 months ago by Judyms
This was a really good book and especially interesting because it related to people I've known about and watched on television in the past.Published on August 1, 2013 by Gramma
I haven't seen Mambo Kings, so Beautiful Maria was my introduction to the musical world of pre Castro Cuba. The novel was sexy and intimate, like reading from a forgotten diary. Read morePublished on June 10, 2013 by R. McGee
Expert prose from master storyteller. Paints a beautiful picture of Cuba and lost love. Weaves in realism and happy-idh ending to boot.Published on February 18, 2013 by Cathy Brown