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Download Beautiful María of My Soul Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Beautiful María of My Soul Audiobook, by Oscar Hijuelos Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (332 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Oscar Hijuelos Narrator: Armando Durán Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781455197699
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The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a contemporary American classic, a book that still captivates and inspires readers more than twenty years after its first publication. Now, in Beautiful Maria of My Soul, Oscar Hijuelos returns to this indelible story, to tell it from the point of view of its beloved heroine, María.

She’s 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 and living in Miami with her pediatrician daughter, Teresa, María remains a beauty, still capable of turning heads. But she has never forgotten Nestor, and as she thinks back to her days—and nights—in Havana, an entirely new perspective on the Mambo Kings story unfolds.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I fell instantly in love with the glorious soul of Beautiful María of My Soul. Hijuelos has created and brought to life two beloved characters, a heart-stealing heroine and Havana during an epoch of changing fate.”

    Amy Tan

  • “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…Hijuelos’ 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’ imaginative and florid voice.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Armando Durán’s interpretation couldn’t be more sensitive, more evocative, or more erotic as he tackles the complexities and contradictions of Beautiful Maria…Durán maintains a narrator’s objective distance yet creates unforgettable characters brimming with passion…Durán’s sensual performance will melt your earbuds. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”

    AudioFile

  • “Yes, it is a story of grand passion found, lost, and mourned, but it is also the story of a young, illiterate girl escaping a life of rural poverty and making a career for herself in the city. Nobody writes sex scenes like Hijuelos—graphic and poetic at once, a symphony of lush language, both sweaty and transcendent—but he brings the same passion to his descriptions of María…To fully appreciate this novel’s wondrous language and its multifaceted story, it needs to be read in tandem with Mambo Kings; to do otherwise would be like listening to a symphony through only one speaker.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The novel, which takes Maria from Havana to Miami and from uneducated girl to experienced woman, is elegantly written and dramatic. Duran effortlessly switches from Cuban to American accents, masterfully representing the large cast, especially Cuban characters, who receive differing, recognizable voices. A rich and compelling performance.”

    Booklist

  • “A sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love that sings with the sweet sensuality of its predecessor…the novelist returns to tell the story of María, to render her as flesh and blood as well as exotic (and erotic) inspiration…the novel shows how the beautiful María chooses her destiny, rebels against it and makes peace with it. The prose combines the simplicity of a folk tale with the lyricism of a romantic balladeer and the depth of a philosopher, as it encompasses what María considers ‘her holy trinity: God, love, and death’…The result is a sequel that can be relished independently of the first volume while harmonizing with it. More than worth the wait.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • AKirkus Reviews’ Best BooksKirkus Reviews’ Best Books
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • ABooklist Top 10of2010: Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alecia | 2/20/2014

    " I read The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love years ago and enjoyed it very much. This novel about "beautiful Maria", a character in the first novel, tells her story in detail. I liked the book, but found it less compelling than the first. It is a highly sexualized tale, and it almost got a little boring in it's repetitive telling. I found it interesting how the author inserted himself in the last part of the book. He really feels close to his characters! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jody | 2/9/2014

    " Hijuelos' prose is great. But for a good part of this book he used that prose to lamely tie together extremely graphic sex scenes. It got old fast. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 2/6/2014

    " A great sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise Psoinos | 1/28/2014

    " Almost finished. Love it and recommend it. I love the character Maria and her complexity and Hijuelos' honesty in writing. I love the honesty of the romance, the dirtyness of the sex scenes, the corruption, the sexism, everything and not trying to gloss it over. Also love the use of Spanish words throughout the dialogues that give you a more authentic look into the characters understanding them in thier native tongue. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Suzanne Perkins | 1/24/2014

    " The book is a sequel to Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. I haven't read that. I found this one on closeout so I thought I would try it and read the first if I was lost. It does fine as a stand alone book. The story is sections. The entire last section when the family is in Miami should have been cut. It's not very interesting at all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie Ellis | 1/18/2014

    " I didn't find this book as compelling as its predecessor, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Somehow, I never found Maria to be a likable character. The author also overemphasized her beauty, such that it made her seem a characiture. I did enjoy how he tied this book to the previous one. He also did a very postmodern bit in the last section, putting himself in the book. Definitely a comment on the boundary between fact and fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Vince | 12/28/2013

    " Hijuelos tries his hand (probably both of them) at pornography. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cara Lipshie | 12/25/2013

    " This is a wonderful book full of passion and life and sadness. I have never read "Mambo Kings...." This is the story told from Maria's point of view and begins in pre-Castro Cuba and ends in post-Castro Miami. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 JoAnn Jordan | 12/19/2013

    " This is a good novel. I enjoyed reading it. It is well written and the prose is of high quality. The ending is well done. I would recommend it to someone interested in a literary read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 12/8/2013

    " Music, sex, Cuba, Florida. Must get around to reading Mambo Kings one of these days. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Irma | 11/11/2013

    " Hijuelos wrote a passionate and heart-breaking love story. Maria in Cuba is the inspiration for the Mambo Kings' success in America. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Polly | 10/16/2013

    " This is the first book in a long time that I haven't finished. I usually really love Hijuelos' book but I just couldn't take one more description of Maria and her beautiful breasts or Nestor's wonderfully large penis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 7/24/2013

    " Just lovely. I really enjoyed this one; I think I'll have to track down some of his others now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 4/2/2013

    " Not as good as The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, but an interesting look at the story through the character of Maria. But be prepared . . . it get's a little lame at the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Terry Dullum | 1/22/2013

    " A little disappointing, but considering how brilliant "The Mambo Kings" was, it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Arcelia | 7/11/2012

    " I couldn't even make it through the book. I will admit I never read the first book only saw the movie, so I had no clue what his writing style would be like. I thought it was completely sexist & overly sexually graphic. So I had to put it down. I prefer to remember the mambo kings through the movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bruce Hopkins | 3/2/2012

    " My mother was born 100 years ago in Cuba of Scottish parents so I'm starved for interesting stories of life on that beleaguered island. Maria not necessarily a sympathetic character but a intriguing story nonetheless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel Sharf | 11/26/2011

    " Interesting sequel to "The Mambo Kings"; Lyrical story of the Cuban experience in Cuba before Castro and in Miami, through the eyes of the woman who inspired the song, Beautiful Maria of My Soul. A little too graphic for my taste, but enjoyable as a love story with a surprising ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 10/19/2011

    " Not quite in the same league as "Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love", still its a worthy companion that tells Maria's story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cara | 4/30/2011

    " This is a wonderful book full of passion and life and sadness. I have never read "Mambo Kings...." This is the story told from Maria's point of view and begins in pre-Castro Cuba and ends in post-Castro Miami. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claire | 3/18/2011

    " I'd give it 3.5. It was pretty good, but with lots of sex and I didn't like the ending too well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 2/8/2011

    " A great sequel to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 danielle | 2/3/2011

    " Less sexist, still written by a man who seems to have no conception of what or who women are. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Yarel | 1/16/2011

    " Beautiful Maria of My Soul is just as tedious as the first book. Starts off pretty good but too many sexual references and it dragged on a bit too long. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Irma | 11/29/2010

    " Hijuelos wrote a passionate and heart-breaking love story. Maria in Cuba is the inspiration for the Mambo Kings' success in America. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 11/24/2010

    " This story was disappointing. I had read and loved The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love. I have a longer review that I'll post here when and if I find it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 8/25/2010

    " Interesting sequel to "The Mambo Kings"; Lyrical story of the Cuban experience in Cuba before Castro and in Miami, through the eyes of the woman who inspired the song, Beautiful Maria of My Soul. A little too graphic for my taste, but enjoyable as a love story with a surprising ending. "

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About the Author
Author Oscar HijuelosOscar Hijuelos (1951-2013), was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and receipient of the Rome Prize. He also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His nine novels have been translated into more than 30 languages.
About the Narrator

Armando Durán has appeared in films, television, and regional theaters throughout the West Coast. For the last decade he has been a member of the resident acting company at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 2009 he was named by AudioFile as Best Voice in Biography and History for his narration of Che Guevara. A native Californian, he divides his time between Los Angeles and Ashland, Oregon.