Beautiful Maria of My Soul


By Oscar Hijuelos

Foreword by Lori Marie Carlson-Hijuelos

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$14.99 CAD

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In this mesmerizing sequel to a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, the "heart-stealing heroine" (Amy Tan) and muse of Cuban musician Nestor Castillo takes readers on the journey of a lifetime with this story of reinvention, romance, and revolution. 
In The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, María is the great Cuban beauty who stole musician Nestor Castillo’s heart and broke it, inspiring him to write the Mambo Kings’ biggest hit, ‘Beautiful María of My Soul.’” Now in her sixties, María García y Cifuentes is the lady behind the song, living as an exile in Miami. But while she left Cuba decades ago, she has never forgotten Nestor.

We now see the Mambo Kings’ story through Maria’s eyes—and as she thinks back to her days and nights in Havana, an entirely new perspective on the story unfolds. We meet her as an illiterate young woman with unspeakable, head-turning beauty who meets and falls in love with Nestor in Havana, but ultimately chooses to stay involved with a cruel, wealthy lover.

When the Cuban Revolution intervenes, Maria and her daughter seek refuge in Miami. And as she finds community with other Cuban women and begins to take lessons at a local college, Maria finally goes from muse to the writer of her own story.

Beautiful María of My Soul is a stunning act of reinvention, and another contemporary classic from an extraordinarily talented writer.

Includes a Reading Group Guide.

  • "I fell instantly in love with the glorious soul of Beautiful Maria of my Soul. Hijuelos has created and brought to life two beloved characters, a heart-stealing heroine and Havana during an epoch of changing life."
    Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife
  • "Beautiful Maria is the Queen of the Mambo Kings! Oscar Hijuelos brings this magnificent character to life in this lyrical novel."
    Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life
  • "[A] warm, exuberant triumph . . . Savor the mysterious power of a master's pentimento."
    Los Angeles Times
  • "It takes a lot of nerve and skill to pull off something as rich as Beautiful Maria of my Soul, but pull it off as Hijuelos does."
    Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • "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."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Vividly evokes the vibrant lost world of prerevolutionary Havana, the Cuban Revolution, and modern-day Miami . . . 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."
    Bookmarks magazine
  • “Ultimately, these final encounters achieve a complex intimacy that has been decades in coming, born of palpable yearning, as is apt in a book that is, after all, named for a song of love.”
    Chattanooga Free Press
  • “An affecting portrait of broken dreams and regret, hope and despair, rediscovery and renewal, Beautiful María ties up the loose ends of a love story that died with Nestor in The Mambo Kings, but is still very much alive in the heart and soul of his song, 'Beautiful María.'"
  • “ A Cuba-set tale of sex, beauty, and dancing, the vibrant sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love will guarantee you’re Havana good time this summer.”
    Entertainment Weekly
  • "A musically infused tale reflecting the boleros’ themes of love and longing.”

On Sale
Jun 1, 2010
Page Count
352 pages

Oscar Hijuelos

About the Author

Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013), a native New Yorker and the son of Cuban immigrants, was a Pulitzer Prize winning author of nine novels and a memoir and a recipient of the Rome Prize awarded by The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He became the first Latino winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990 for his international bestseller The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love and his novels have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Arturo O’Farrill, eight-time Grammy-winning pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. His professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (now called Belongó) as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. Arturo has been a Steinway Artist for many years and is a Blue Note Records Recording Artist.

Learn more about this author