Mambo queens A new novel by Oscar Hijuelos can make any season splendid. The Empress of the Splendid Season (6 hours), his latest, read here by Rita Moreno, an empress of audio presentation if ever there was one, is indeed no exception. Hijuelos takes us back to Mambo Kings country, New York City's Cuban emigre community, and takes us into the life of Lydia Espana, into the frustrations of assimilating into a new culture, into her amorous reminiscences and memories of home. The once luscious Lydia left Cuba for New York in the late '40s; now a cleaning lady to help support her husband and children, she has to deal with a son and daughter who are far more American than Cuban, with aging, with yearnings, with disappointments. Hijuelos gets into her head and heart as this audio presentation will get into yours.