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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.