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Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos
In Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Cuban musician Nestor Castillo writes a song about his first love. It's titled "Beautiful Maria of My Soul." Is his new novel, Beautiful Maria of My Soul, Oscar Hijuelos tells the story of Maria. She is a Cuban country girl who comes to Havana and uses her beauty to her advantage. She meets a gangster who showers her with gifts, but is also abusive and controlling. Then she meets Nestor Castillo, a struggling musician who serenades her with his music. When Nestor's career takes him to New York City, Maria must choose a life with him, or to stay with her gangster boyfriend who can provide her with the lifestyle she wants. Oscar Hijuelos' novel has received positive reviews with the Portland Oregonian saying, "Beautiful Maria is a finely written novel, a nuanced and poignant meditation on the life of a woman who is, perhaps, too lovely for her own good."