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A hilarious and touching new installment of Armistead Maupin's beloved Tales of the City series Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mo A hilarious and touching new installment of Armistead Maupin's beloved Tales of the City series Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, a gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband. Mary Ann finds temporary refuge in the couple's backyard cottage, where, at the unnerving age of fifty-seven, she licks her wounds and takes stock of her mistakes. Soon, with the help of Facebook and a few old friends, she begins to reengage with life, only to confront fresh terrors when her checkered past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined. After the intimate first-person narrative of Maupin's last novel, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn marks the author's return to the multicharacter plotlines and darkly comic themes of his earlier work. Among those caught in Mary Ann's orbit are her estranged daughter, Shawna, a popular sex blogger; Jake Greenleaf, Michael's transgendered gardening assistant; socialite DeDe Halcyon-Wilson; and the indefatigable Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann's former landlady at 28 Barbary Lane. More than three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin's legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent, and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion, and mordant wit.


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A hilarious and touching new installment of Armistead Maupin's beloved Tales of the City series Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mo A hilarious and touching new installment of Armistead Maupin's beloved Tales of the City series Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, a gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband. Mary Ann finds temporary refuge in the couple's backyard cottage, where, at the unnerving age of fifty-seven, she licks her wounds and takes stock of her mistakes. Soon, with the help of Facebook and a few old friends, she begins to reengage with life, only to confront fresh terrors when her checkered past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined. After the intimate first-person narrative of Maupin's last novel, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn marks the author's return to the multicharacter plotlines and darkly comic themes of his earlier work. Among those caught in Mary Ann's orbit are her estranged daughter, Shawna, a popular sex blogger; Jake Greenleaf, Michael's transgendered gardening assistant; socialite DeDe Halcyon-Wilson; and the indefatigable Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann's former landlady at 28 Barbary Lane. More than three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin's legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent, and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion, and mordant wit.

30 review for Mary Ann in Autumn

  1. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    A beautiful conclusion to the series. (I assume it's the conclusion, only because it also concludes a dangling plotline from the first book.) The complete Tales of the City cycle is an astonishing one, good-humoured, great-hearted, and written with wit and humanity. Maupin makes you turn the pages because you care about the characters and you want to spend time with them, which may be the best way there is. A beautiful conclusion to the series. (I assume it's the conclusion, only because it also concludes a dangling plotline from the first book.) The complete Tales of the City cycle is an astonishing one, good-humoured, great-hearted, and written with wit and humanity. Maupin makes you turn the pages because you care about the characters and you want to spend time with them, which may be the best way there is.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    Is "autumn" simply code for... a hysterectomy?! Well, even if it's not, the beloved characters in Armistead Maupin's ol' San Fran are all getting pretty long in the tooth. On our last foray into the Tales of the City, Michael Tolliver gave us a 1st person account of his goings on. Very vanilla, very tepid. In this one, Maupin returns to the various narrative strand structure, and we all sigh one huge collective sigh of relief! It's back to the endearing interconnectedness of characters, the happ Is "autumn" simply code for... a hysterectomy?! Well, even if it's not, the beloved characters in Armistead Maupin's ol' San Fran are all getting pretty long in the tooth. On our last foray into the Tales of the City, Michael Tolliver gave us a 1st person account of his goings on. Very vanilla, very tepid. In this one, Maupin returns to the various narrative strand structure, and we all sigh one huge collective sigh of relief! It's back to the endearing interconnectedness of characters, the happy returns to previous installments & the rambunctious, gay times! Instead of putting them in graves, like he's known to do, he has tried to capture his characters in their later years, taking nothing away from their original patina of fabulousness. It's pretty hard to stop reading these. (Obviously.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    So I made a big mistake with this book. I got this from the library not fully aware that it is the 8th in the series. So, I haven't read anything in the series and I started with the last book. It took some time to get into the story. I love all the characters and the San Francisco setting. I enjoyed the Queer community so much. A lot happens in this story and I'm sure it would mean so much more if I had read everything preceeding it. I have seen the Tales of the City TV show a while back. I lov So I made a big mistake with this book. I got this from the library not fully aware that it is the 8th in the series. So, I haven't read anything in the series and I started with the last book. It took some time to get into the story. I love all the characters and the San Francisco setting. I enjoyed the Queer community so much. A lot happens in this story and I'm sure it would mean so much more if I had read everything preceeding it. I have seen the Tales of the City TV show a while back. I love the relationship between Mary Ann and Michael. I will have to start at the beginning of this tale. I love the trans characters in it and talking about life for them. It's too bad I started at the end of the story. At least I don't mind some spoilers. Michael and Ben are such a cute couple. I love San Francisco and if I had money I would live there. This is a great taste of the city.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This book can stand alone, but after reading the other 7 books in the series , over the years, I really enjoyed this one....hated to see it end....... I read another review that said they tired of the brand name references of things, but if you've read the other books, brand name dropping,and cultural references of the time period the books are set, was the norm,and part of their charm...... I long to feel the cool San Fransisco breezes off the bay while lounging on the porch of 28 Barbary Lane, This book can stand alone, but after reading the other 7 books in the series , over the years, I really enjoyed this one....hated to see it end....... I read another review that said they tired of the brand name references of things, but if you've read the other books, brand name dropping,and cultural references of the time period the books are set, was the norm,and part of their charm...... I long to feel the cool San Fransisco breezes off the bay while lounging on the porch of 28 Barbary Lane, hearing Anna singing in the night air.....you feel like a part of the characters lifes,and this is what makes the story so charming,and makes you want to experience life of a time and place such as San Fransisco....... If you enjoy reading of a time forgotten,and a time of complete and utter carefree living, this whole series is for you...... and do see the movies, after you read the books. This one was a welcome addition to the series.....they say it's the last, but Armistead, what makes these books so great is I could continue to read about your fantastic characters, in many books to come, and never tire of those delightful people you write about bringing their joys,and sorrows to the surface.....

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I think for all of us who have lost our hearts in San Francisco through the pages of the Tales of the City books it is as though we are back in the arms of great friends when a new book comes out. With such a long gap between ‘Sure of You’ and ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ we were in for a real treat when just this Thursday ‘Mary Ann in Autumn’ was released. I wanted to get my copy of the book somewhere special, where it is welcomed with the knowledge of it’s place in our history, where it meant some I think for all of us who have lost our hearts in San Francisco through the pages of the Tales of the City books it is as though we are back in the arms of great friends when a new book comes out. With such a long gap between ‘Sure of You’ and ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ we were in for a real treat when just this Thursday ‘Mary Ann in Autumn’ was released. I wanted to get my copy of the book somewhere special, where it is welcomed with the knowledge of it’s place in our history, where it meant something. So on a cold wet and windy London morning I braved the elements and got on a bus and a couple of trains and found myself in the warmth of the ‘Gays the Word’ bookshop. There followed a wonderful conversation about the goings on in 28 Barbary Lane and also the great excitement that the said shop is hosting a book reading with Mr Maupin himself on the 28 November. Liz and I will be lucky enough to be there to hear him read from the book and maybe even an autograph or two! So having picked up my copy of the book plus tickets I retraced my steps back home As the wind raged outside I settled down on my settee with Poppy and read and read and immersed myself in that world once again. As ever I was far from disappointed, all the characters were there, age had changed them but they were still the people we know and love. Their lives had taken different roads but as ever they all led them to the same place. Armistead has such a wonderful way of bringing you into that world, secret links to past books. It would be ok if this were your first trip down Barbary Lane but it is much better to have trodden that path before or you would miss out on a few of the stories. I only paused my reading for sleep and finished it the very next day. Mary Anne returns from New York to her ‘real’ family in a time of need and they are all there for her. Mrs Madrigal still holds all her wisdom and Michael still calls her Babycakes. It has a great twist at the end that will surprise you! I was touched with great sadness as I closed the pages I wanted to linger in their world a while longer, a wondeful book! go and get your's now!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Michael Tolliver lives! … Again! A three year gap is significantly less than eighteen years. On top of that, this is the first Tales of the City book that I have read contemporaneously. Do you have any idea how strange it is to shift from Maupin speaking to people who predate me to him speaking directly to me, the world in which I’m living? It’s a stretch. I think that Tales of the City books work best as capsules of their time, which of course means, except for Sure of You, they improve with age Michael Tolliver lives! … Again! A three year gap is significantly less than eighteen years. On top of that, this is the first Tales of the City book that I have read contemporaneously. Do you have any idea how strange it is to shift from Maupin speaking to people who predate me to him speaking directly to me, the world in which I’m living? It’s a stretch. I think that Tales of the City books work best as capsules of their time, which of course means, except for Sure of You, they improve with age. That Maupin now speaks of Twitter and Facebook with varying degrees of understanding feels strange to me. Did readers thirty years ago think that D’orothea and DeDe’s involvement with Jonestown was simply bizarre (well, it was by default, but … more bizarre?)? All this is not to say that Mary Ann in Autumn is a bad book or disappointing. For me, at least, it is essential for its service in returning Mary Ann to her figuratively ancestral home. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you how badly betrayed I felt by her in Sure of You. Mary Ann is not absolved of her sins, but it seems she may well be redeemed. Mary Ann comes to San Francisco seeking cancer treatment and escape from her (Republican) husband. She further reconnects with Michael, and … kind of ignores everyone else. Her estranged daughter Shawna becomes fascianted by a homeless woman, and nothing else specific happens but, in a return to classic Tales form, the threads of coincidence ridiculously intertwine into a somewhat cohesive whole. Mary Ann in Autumn is deliberately more sprawling than Michael Tolliver Lives and consequently significantly less personal. It would perhaps be indulgent for Maupin to start producing first person novels for each of the major characters he has introduced along the way, but it would have been nice to get a feeling for Mary Ann’s inner self. In fact, I think that may have made an overall more satisfying work here, but it would also have meant sacrificing the plot threads. Would they have been sorely missed? On reflection, definitely, but they are not without their own flaws. Shawna frequently doesn’t quite seem like a real character, but rather more of a construct to represent what Maupin considers the “zeitgeist” (having subconsciously realised that he has written her into a corner as a “grrrl”, which must make him cringe deep in his heart of hearts). Her pursuit of Leia is little more than a whim used to power Maupin’s enormous six degrees machine, and she doesn’t come into her own until she’s following up on actual human relationships, both with her estranged mother and her clown boyfriend Otto. There is subtlety and nuance to Shawna, but Maupin wants to bury it underneath her cool facade. He acknowledges this much, and that sparkle of honesty towards the end carries a character that had come dangerously close to caricature over the line. Jake Greenleaf’s own story, though less “common”, seems more topical and relevant in the scheme of the universe, if not the novel. Jake’s story is worthy and carries with it overtones of Mormonism and Proposition 8, which were probably more closely intertwined to the citizens of San Francisco than they were to anyone else. Away from the prism of Michael, Jake is given room to breathe. This isn’t really Michael’s story at all, although he does feature prominently. Giving Jake agency to do things outside the aegis of his boss was a smart move on Maupin’s part and is a valuable part of the novel, but at the same time Jake’s own story has no bearing on Mary Ann’s own through-line. Worthy in its own way, but discardable in the novel’s larger context. So I guess that’s the problem with Maupin as he’s advanced his career: he’s given us knowledge of a different way to consume his work. The irony is that a scant two weeks ago I was complaining that the use of Michael’s voice in Michael Tolliver Lives was uneasy, a pedagogue in search of an audience that he never quite finds. In Mary Ann in Autumn, at least, we don’t have to worry about that. The matter of fact narration leaves no room for worry or questioning. As to Mary Ann herself: it’s good to see her back, and human again. I felt that Maupin had stripped her of humanity twenty years ago and, at the time, I couldn’t forgive a fictional character for compromising herself so severely in pursuit of an ill-informed dream. She has felt her age differently to Michael, in part because she threw away almost twenty years of her life. For Mary Ann, a return to San Francisco is a return to a dreamlike state where only important things matter and nothing hurts. This is different to the escapism that Maupin used to promote, but that was compromised understandably and irrevocably by the intrusion of AIDS into the characters’ milieu. Escapism seems that much more heavy when you have something that you need to escape, and she certainly does. It would be stupid to say that Mary Ann “finds” herself, but she definitely rediscovers what made her likeable in the first place. That Maupin has made me blur the lines between the way that the character is written and the way that the character is tells me that he has done an excellent job over the last 33 years (even if I only read all of the books last year). It’s just a pity that Mary Ann decides to expend so much of her energy on the blue glow of Facebook rather than showing slightly more of herself to the characters and, consequently, the reader. Mary Ann’s representation is definitely not shallow, but it could certainly be somewhat deeper than it has amounted to. The other thing is that Armistead Maupin is now legitimately older himself, if not simply old. This reflects in his cluelessness as to the cluelessness of younger people. The older generation of characters express frequent frustration that the younger don’t understand their cultural points of reference anymore. In Michael Tolliver Lives, Ben didn’t know who Sally Bowles is, which must be some sort of crime, and in Mary Ann in Autumn Jake has no idea who Scarlett O’Hara is, which is definitely a felony. Everyone knows who Betty Page is, for some reason. Maupin writes the younger characters as if he believes that they belong to a new world, and doesn’t consider that they might simply be ignorant. Still, Mary Ann in Autumn is welcome: the prodigal daughter has truly returned after too many years in the wilderness, and she has not been found wanting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Bynum

    Part of the magic of the Tales of the City series is how timeless the distance can be; reading the books now is sort of like taking part in a time travel vacation, where you're going to a new place AND a different time. But Mary Ann in Autumn loses some of the because it's so timely - Mary Ann shouldn't be on Facebook, Shawna shouldn't have a blog, Ben (who's Ben?) shouldn't shop at "Whole Paycheck." But I wonder if someone reading this book thirty years from now would feel the same way about it Part of the magic of the Tales of the City series is how timeless the distance can be; reading the books now is sort of like taking part in a time travel vacation, where you're going to a new place AND a different time. But Mary Ann in Autumn loses some of the because it's so timely - Mary Ann shouldn't be on Facebook, Shawna shouldn't have a blog, Ben (who's Ben?) shouldn't shop at "Whole Paycheck." But I wonder if someone reading this book thirty years from now would feel the same way about it as I feel about the earlier series. Is it magical? No. But does it feel like a gift, getting an answer to how everybody's doing all these years later? Yes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    The Book Report: At fifty-seven, Mary Ann Singleton Hawkins Caruthers has blown up her life again and come running back to the loving, welcoming arms of Mouse Tolliver, her first friend in San Francisco. The catch is, Mouse is now happily married to thirtysomething bear-daddy fancier Ben, who is less than enthralled with Mrs. Caruthers. Considering the dual crises buffeting Mary Ann, she feels entitled to come on in and set a spell anyway, and thus the plot starts moving. Mary Ann's crises, one The Book Report: At fifty-seven, Mary Ann Singleton Hawkins Caruthers has blown up her life again and come running back to the loving, welcoming arms of Mouse Tolliver, her first friend in San Francisco. The catch is, Mouse is now happily married to thirtysomething bear-daddy fancier Ben, who is less than enthralled with Mrs. Caruthers. Considering the dual crises buffeting Mary Ann, she feels entitled to come on in and set a spell anyway, and thus the plot starts moving. Mary Ann's crises, one real and the other simply her drama queen self coming to the fore, cause some tensions in San Francisco; she doesn't have to deal with her ex-husband, but pretty much all the other Barbary Lane survivors show up and interact with her, though less so with each other. A bomb from the past shows up. A BIG bomb. The resolution of that dangling storyline from book 2 (More Tales of the City), I believe, is as messy as the original ending was tidy...though both were very *purses lips* tidy-tidy in their own ways. A fitting end to this book, though, clearing the decks for Mary Ann to return to the fold. And so set us up for another book. My Review: Maupin's trademark suds; if you like it (and I do), you'll like this latest entry in the "Tales" saga. I wondered as I wandered if some of these plots were strictly speaking *necessary*, but honestly I felt so smoothly engulfed and solicitously engaged by the mother-henning of Maupin's consistently high quality writing about these dear and familiar and aging, even becoming elderly and frail, characters that, well, I checked my coincidence-flensing knife at the door. I missed it a few times, but at the door it stayed. I'm growing older. I find that fact reasonably agreeable most of the time, except that every once in a way I feel left out of the storytelling that makes younger people sit up and take notice. Usually it's because I've been there and done that and even have the copyright-1975 book to prove that this NEW! NOW! HAPPENIN! trope is recycled. But even the Bible is new to someone who's never read it before. And the fact is, sometimes old familiar faces are more fun to spend time with. So novelty palls, failing to be novel anymore. But the solid, tried-and-true tropes of a series of books about a group of people who remind me of me learning and groping for meaning and relevance in a world that disconcertingly looks a lot like mine but is very *un*like it in some key ways strikes a welcome chord in me. And, like my own life, Maupin injects new people into his characters' ambits, most all of them younger, most all of them groping and seeking in ways that we *think* we'll outgrow. Reading this book, I'm soothed to realize I'm not the only one who hasn't stopped groping and seeking...and that not only is that okay, but it's a large part of the reason new friendships are possible. A worhty take-away from this warm, cozy fireplace read of a book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Still with the deftly interwoven plots of the other "Tales" books, but with a bitter-sweet quality. Just like in life, some of the well-loved characters are dead, some moved away and all are growing older, without the newer characters really integrating to form a new cohesion. Once Anna Madrigal shuffles off this mortal coil, the "Tales" books will probably inevitably die with her. After re-reading this book, consecutively with all the other "Tales" books, I have had to revise my rating to 5 star Still with the deftly interwoven plots of the other "Tales" books, but with a bitter-sweet quality. Just like in life, some of the well-loved characters are dead, some moved away and all are growing older, without the newer characters really integrating to form a new cohesion. Once Anna Madrigal shuffles off this mortal coil, the "Tales" books will probably inevitably die with her. After re-reading this book, consecutively with all the other "Tales" books, I have had to revise my rating to 5 stars. Although I knew what the big reveal was towards the end of the book, (I had worked out the smaller reveal before it was made, the first time round,) the book actually benefitted from knowing what was coming. This time around, I wasn't concentrating on the plotline as before, trying to work out what was going to happen. Instead, I could concentrate on what Maupin does so well; the characterisation. It is wonderful to read the innermost thoughts of the characters, as they form and shift opinions and we also see how their desire not to hurt can conflict with their real feelings. Haven't we all, like Ben, known someone like "Cliff" who we really don't want to speak to, but do for fear of causing offence? It is also nice to see the redemption of Mary Ann, after we were led to believe she was a Queen Bitch with a capital 'B' in 'Sure of You'. On re-reading, the new characters do seem more integrated and perhaps there would be room for a world without Anna Madrigal - after all, doesn't it happen to us all?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Missyjack

    As an ardent fan of the Tales series since they appeared, this was a book I wish I hadn't bothered to read. While Michael Tolliver Lives got by on that feel of a "reunion special", and gave the reader a chance to reflect on what was different and what was the same about queer life two decades apart, Mary Ann in Autumn has nothing similar to offer. What made the earlier books so wonderful was Maupin's ability to combine over the top melodrama with relationships that had a real emotional resonance As an ardent fan of the Tales series since they appeared, this was a book I wish I hadn't bothered to read. While Michael Tolliver Lives got by on that feel of a "reunion special", and gave the reader a chance to reflect on what was different and what was the same about queer life two decades apart, Mary Ann in Autumn has nothing similar to offer. What made the earlier books so wonderful was Maupin's ability to combine over the top melodrama with relationships that had a real emotional resonance, and that is missing here. There's no insight into how aging has affected these characters beyond the most superficial observations. Every time it seems like some dramatic tension may be building, it's passed over. It feels more like the outline of a book, than a real story. Instead of reading this, go back and reread the early books.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    There is almost no way to talk about this without spoilers, so I am going to be as vague as vague can be. But oh, my dear Mr. Maupin, what a lovely present you have given us, all tied up with neat little bows- all of those dangling ends from the original series, so pretty! Where Michael Tolliver Lives was a benediction, a book I couldn't read three pages of without weeping, this is a hearkening back to the bad old days of the Chronicle serial, with odd, unbelievable plot twists that make a person There is almost no way to talk about this without spoilers, so I am going to be as vague as vague can be. But oh, my dear Mr. Maupin, what a lovely present you have given us, all tied up with neat little bows- all of those dangling ends from the original series, so pretty! Where Michael Tolliver Lives was a benediction, a book I couldn't read three pages of without weeping, this is a hearkening back to the bad old days of the Chronicle serial, with odd, unbelievable plot twists that make a person whoop with laughter. A delight, an unmitigated delight.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Jr.

    Barbary Lane Lives On It’s a complete coincidence that I ended up in San Francisco just days before Mary Ann in Autumn, Armistead Maupin’s latest installment of the Tales of The City series, was released. The trip was planned well before I ever knew the release date of the novel, but once I learned of the close proximity of the two events, my trip to the Bay Area transformed into a pilgrimage of sorts to Maupin’s endearing and iconic works, Mrs. Madrigal, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, and all the den Barbary Lane Lives On It’s a complete coincidence that I ended up in San Francisco just days before Mary Ann in Autumn, Armistead Maupin’s latest installment of the Tales of The City series, was released. The trip was planned well before I ever knew the release date of the novel, but once I learned of the close proximity of the two events, my trip to the Bay Area transformed into a pilgrimage of sorts to Maupin’s endearing and iconic works, Mrs. Madrigal, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, and all the denizens of the Tales of the City. After walking all the way from Market and Powell, getting lost, and going up and down Russian Hill at the grand old age of 46, I found myself, winded and sweating, standing on the steps of Macondray Lane—the real life inspiration for the house that has been etched into my psyche for so long—hoping to capture a little bit of the magic of that literary world. And it’s only fitting that in the opening chapter of Mary Ann in Autumn, the titular character, Mary Ann Singleton, finds herself climbing those same stairs to catch a glimpse of her former home, 28 Barbary Lane. With a wistfulness and longing, the 57 year-old stares through the locked gate of the property, similarly trying to recapture the magic that had been her past life, one she abandoned so many years ago along with her husband and adoptive daughter. With that scene, Maupin perfectly sets the tone for Mary Ann in Autumn, a sweet and solid entry in the Tales of the City mythos that is part nostalgia (for both the readers and the character of Mary Ann), and a deceptively simple exploration of the desire for one person to discover who they truly are after pursuing who they thought they wanted to be. Mary Ann has returned to San Francisco after some shocking revelations in her personal life, and the first person she contacts is her old friend, Mouse, now happily married to the younger Ben. From the moment Maupin brings the two together, their voices are as if they have never been apart, easily falling into the playful (and sometimes serious) banter that made them an endearing couple of friends in the original works. And here is where the novel succeeds best: the rekindling of that relationship and the literary rehabilitation of Mary Ann. In the original Tales novel and early sequels, Mary Ann Singleton was an immensely likable young woman, a naïve transplant to San Francisco from the bastion of conservatism, Cleveland. Her journey as she discovered who she was and how she reacts to a city as free as 1970s San Francisco was funny, charming, mysterious and a little bit sad. But starting in the 4th book in the series, Babycakes, Mary Ann found herself in search of a career and she became a not-so-likable person, one who seemed willing to turn her back on family and friends. It was disheartening for me as a reader to see Mary Ann transformed such. Now, don’t get me wrong…it was utterly true to life. How many times have we all had someone in our lives who is incredibly dear to us who gets caught up in the desire to be something more and becomes someone we don’t like so much any more? There was nothing at fault in Maupin’s writing of those later three novels. It was spot on. I simply didn’t want to see a dear, wonderful friend become someone I didn’t like. I wanted her to always stay Mary Ann. And that, alone, is a testament to Maupin and the character he created. I never wanted her to change. In Mary Ann in Autumn, though, we find a character who is, again, at a turning point. As she approaches the autumn of her life, she has obviously been taking stock, looking closely at her past choices, the repercussions of some not-so-great actions. In trying to find a way forward, she is looking back at the people she has left behind, one of whom happens to be herself. And she finds that little bit of herself, again. Don’t get me wrong, Maupin doesn’t magically convert Mary Ann back to whom she was. He doesn’t absolve her of her sins. She’s older, wiser, still a bit self-absorbed, but it almost feels as if she is exhaling all the inconsequential crap that has been in her life, so that she can breathe in again. And it is exactly in her relationship to Mouse that Maupin so expertly let’s us like Mary Ann again, perhaps understand her a bit more. Maupin also adds in outsiders, those who never knew the Mary Ann we all loved, to help in this rehabilitation, namely Mouse’s husband, Ben who is a bit suspicious of this woman and her effect on Michael. Through him—someone without the shared history—we get to learn this new Mary Ann. As Mouse himself says to Ben “Look, I know you think she’s a drama queen, but she’s had some actual drama.” Now, in any Tales novel, a reader expects some humor, a little bit of mystery and wonderful characters. Maupin is in excellent form here, capturing everything we readers have loved about Tales, but never once relying on our nostalgia for the series. His 2010 San Francisco is just as vibrant and alive as his San Francisco of the 70s and 80s. It has simply grown and changed, morphed into something different, no less charming or infections as its previous incarnation. In the mystery department, Maupin gives us Shawna, Mary Ann’s estranged, adoptive daughter, now a popular sex-blogger looking for a new direction in her life. She fixates on an old homeless woman named Leia, and stumbles onto a mystery that she must solve, a mystery that gives us readers a genuine aha! moment or two that is richly satisfying. But that’s not all…Facebook figures into it all as well, giving us yet another jolt that can’t be revealed in a review. Now I tend to pride myself on figuring out twists and turns, but Maupin honestly got me on these. I didn’t have it figured out until it was very clear that Maupin wanted me to. Perhaps I was just naive, but I was genuinely taken by surprise by the twists. In the character department, Mrs. Madrigal is still with us and although her role is somewhat limited, she’s just as pithy as always, each of her “dears” just warming my heart, and her spirit is richly pepered throughout the novel. DeDe Halcyon makes an appearance, as does D’or. And Maupin augments the Barbary Lane family with Jake Greenleaf, an immensely appealing trans-man, Michael’s Ben, and Shawna’s adorable and patient boyfriend Otto. These are all welcome additions to the family, feeling as natural as the characters we’ve all known for year. Now, I have read a few reviews that mention the conspicuous absence of Brian Hawkins (Mary Ann’s ex-husband and father of Shawna) and those who have read Michael Tolliver Lives know that the beloved Mona is no longer with us. But I never felt their absence in this novel because Maupin has expertly woven their spirits into the work. Mona is there…a large part of her spirit embodied in Shawna…and Brian is present as well, aspects of his personality richly resonant in two of the new characters. One might even spot a younger version of Mouse or, perhaps, a successor to Mrs. Madrigal. In the end, Mary Ann in Autumn is still a love-letter to San Francisco. It’s still a wonderfully magical series that, I think, Maupin has reinvented for the new millennium. He shows us that you can indeed go home again, though that home will have changed and grown just as we have. Most importantly, he shows us that while 28 Barbary Lane may have become a single-family dwelling, its spirit is still strong. Because 28 Barbary Lane isn’t so much a time or a place, some clapboard building at the top of a set of rickety stairs…28 Barbary Lane is our “logical family,” the family we’ve created and carry with us always, no matter where we may be. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC radio 4: Episode One Mary Ann returns to San Francisco with some big news to share with Michael. Episode Two Mary Ann begins to adapt to life with Michael and Ben. Jake meets a new man at Pier 39. Episode Three Mary Ann heads up to Pinyon Canyon with Michael and Ben for some time-out before her operation. Encouraged by Mrs Madrigal, Jake takes a chance on Jonah. Episode Four DeDe accompanies Mary Ann to her surgery. Jake makes a big decision. Episode Five Mary Ann has an unwelcome encounter with From BBC radio 4: Episode One Mary Ann returns to San Francisco with some big news to share with Michael. Episode Two Mary Ann begins to adapt to life with Michael and Ben. Jake meets a new man at Pier 39. Episode Three Mary Ann heads up to Pinyon Canyon with Michael and Ben for some time-out before her operation. Encouraged by Mrs Madrigal, Jake takes a chance on Jonah. Episode Four DeDe accompanies Mary Ann to her surgery. Jake makes a big decision. Episode Five Mary Ann has an unwelcome encounter with a presence from her past. Shawna is upset by Michael's revelation. Dramatised by Lin Coghlan Producer Susan Roberts Director Charlotte Riches For more than three decades, Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series has blazed a trail through popular culture-from ground-breaking newspaper serial to classic novel. Radio 4 are dramatising the full series of the Tales novels for the very first time. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07btfg3

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Reading the eighth and latest installment in Maupin’s Tales of the City series reminds me of two things. First that I’m getting older. And second of being in my early twenties as that’s when I first discovered this whimsical work of realism set initially in the late 70s and early 80s San Francisco. (The last two books set in this first decade of the twenty-first century.) By extension on this second count, I’m also reminded of my first exploration of the city by the bay at the same time as my br Reading the eighth and latest installment in Maupin’s Tales of the City series reminds me of two things. First that I’m getting older. And second of being in my early twenties as that’s when I first discovered this whimsical work of realism set initially in the late 70s and early 80s San Francisco. (The last two books set in this first decade of the twenty-first century.) By extension on this second count, I’m also reminded of my first exploration of the city by the bay at the same time as my brother had just moved there as I embarked on Maupin’s books. Although this is a slight improvement upon the rather lackluster Michael Tolliver Lives – the first three books are the best in the series, as they individual revolve around some shocking secrets that play out like classic mystery/thrillers (no surprise, there have been many comparisons between the first book and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo) – but there is a nice plotline that underlies Mary Ann’s return to the city that harkens back to an unresolved mystery that ended the book that started it all, Tales of the City itself. (And that’s about as much of a spoiler As for the potential for more tales, I’m not entirely convinced the younger cast that have emerged in these two most recent books can or will sustain my interest – Shawna, Otto, Jake, and Ben – but I’ll probably hit up the next TotC book, if there will be another, on rainy day. Even better: Might I suggest Maupin stick with his self-contained novels – like Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener – as they have show Maupin at his narrative best, with their tightly woven plots and brilliant characterization. (No surprise, The Night Listener was made into a creepy and unnerving thriller starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I have such affection and nostalgia for the Tales of the City books and the subsequent mini-series so much so that when I was in NYC this fall, it was a no-brainer that I would see Laura Linney in a play just to see "Mary Ann" in-person. So when I opened the book (well, okay clicked onto the screen) and saw that Armistead Maupin had dedicated this volume to Linney, he pretty was going to have to do something abominable to make me not love this book. The book quickly took me back into the lives o I have such affection and nostalgia for the Tales of the City books and the subsequent mini-series so much so that when I was in NYC this fall, it was a no-brainer that I would see Laura Linney in a play just to see "Mary Ann" in-person. So when I opened the book (well, okay clicked onto the screen) and saw that Armistead Maupin had dedicated this volume to Linney, he pretty was going to have to do something abominable to make me not love this book. The book quickly took me back into the lives of these characters and their beloved city of San Francisco, it was like meeting up with old friends and not missing a beat. Alas, we have all aged since the original books and while the characters are a wee bit older than myself, there was still a lot that I could personally relate to and there are a sprinkling of new characters to keep it fresh, though some(Michael's biz partner Jake and non-biz partner Ben) were first introduced in Maupin's first dip back into the Tales waters in Michael Tolliver Lives. While he provides helpful reminders of the characters' histories, I can't imagine anyone jumping into this book and knowing what the heck is going on or getting any of it, particularly Maupin's penchant for happenstance/serendipity in connecting up everything some some way, some how. I am sure even some fans may feel like Maupin should have quit while he was ahead, but for me as long as he wants to write about these characters, I'll be reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    I went into this book with so many expectations and was not disappointed. It was nice to be back in the third person, roving perspectives, multiple story lines land that I loved so much about the rest of the series. I missed Brian quite a bit, but I can understand why Maupin had him off driving from National Park to National Park for the duration of the novel (not dead, thank goodness, but alive in an RV); he did tend to steal focus from Mary Ann, and this is firmly her book. She's also complete I went into this book with so many expectations and was not disappointed. It was nice to be back in the third person, roving perspectives, multiple story lines land that I loved so much about the rest of the series. I missed Brian quite a bit, but I can understand why Maupin had him off driving from National Park to National Park for the duration of the novel (not dead, thank goodness, but alive in an RV); he did tend to steal focus from Mary Ann, and this is firmly her book. She's also completely redeemed, and not in a reversal-of-all-past-plot-lines way--her past, the good and the bad, went toward making her the woman she is--but in a way that felt very real. We all have friends like this. I could go on and on. I won't. Instead, here's a list of five things off the top of my head: 1) I actually like Ben now. After my mom read Michael Tolliver Lives she and I had a very interesting conversation about revised expectations as you get older (she liked Ben from the get-go; I didn't, longing for the days of activist Thack or hottie Jon Fielding), which I didn't entirely buy. Whatever. He's cool. "It's all good." 2) Shawna is dating a clown who got his stage name from a Tintin book. I hope I don't have to explain why this is amazing. 3) SNUGGIES. Seriously, there are like twenty mentions of Snuggies in this book. And they're mostly in praise of Snuggies. 3a) MARY ANN GETS A FACEBOOK. This is perhaps the best thing ever. And her status? "Mary Ann Singleton is drinking peppermint tea in her Snuggie, wondering if life is going to get better." 4) Jake and the Mormon. Oh man. That read like the plot-line Michael would have had if he were still Jake's age. But it was also the most heartfelt part of the book, I thought. Two thumbs up. 5) Okay. I'm just gonna say that I saw that coming from a mile away--most of it anyway--and that was fine by me. 6) (Yeah, yeah, I know I said five, but come on.) DeDe is and always will be amazing. I need to go back to the first two books and catalog her amazingness, because I caught on to this fairly late in the game and I need to take all the enjoyment out of it I can. Repeat after me: DeDe is amazing. Also, this isn't a five-star book of the caliber of the other five-star books I have listed here, but it felt wrong giving anything that put such a wide smile on my face anything less than five stars. If this is the last Tales book ever...I'll be sad, but it's a good ending, it came full circle, and it left me with a warm feeling. It was good seeing you again, guys. Don't party too hard.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The best thing about middle age? Re-reading a favorite book from eight years ago and remembering virtually nothing so what's old becomes magically new. Such was the case with Mary Ann in Autumn. I forgot Mary Ann got cancer. I forgot she came to stay with Michael and Ben. I forgot Jake met a closeted Mormon boy. I forgot he scheduled his hysterectomy shortly after Mary Ann had hers. And most importantly, I forgot Norman Neal Williams comes back from the grave. Such a great plot full of twists an The best thing about middle age? Re-reading a favorite book from eight years ago and remembering virtually nothing so what's old becomes magically new. Such was the case with Mary Ann in Autumn. I forgot Mary Ann got cancer. I forgot she came to stay with Michael and Ben. I forgot Jake met a closeted Mormon boy. I forgot he scheduled his hysterectomy shortly after Mary Ann had hers. And most importantly, I forgot Norman Neal Williams comes back from the grave. Such a great plot full of twists and turns. Armistead Maupin's really in his stride here as he rekindles Mary Ann's friendships with Michael, Dede (wish there were more of her and D'or), Anna, and Shawna. Can't wait to delve into the final chapter, The Days of Anna Madrigal. These audio books narrated by the author are the absolute best! Tales of the City continues to be my favorite book series of all time. 8/2020: Great returning to one of my most beloved fictional characters - Mary Ann Singleton - in mid-life now full of regrets and trying to reconnect. Sound familiar? I adore Maupin's series. I can't imagine my life without the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane. And with the Netflix series out, it was nice to be reminded of the delightful and accessible source material. Please Armistead - consider writing a Dede stand-alone. She has become my favorite secondary character over the years. So thrilled she made it to the Netflix show. But would love more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ruthiella

    Happily for me, Maupin is pretty much back in form with this 8th installment of the Tales of the City chronicles. I didn’t really like the previous book, Michael Tolliver Lives; it was too much Michael and his perfect husband and not enough of the cray-cray of the earlier books. In Mary Ann in Autumn, fan favorite Mary Ann, who was MIA in the last book, is reunited with her Mouse when she leaves her life in New York behind and returns to San Francisco. But will she be able to reconnect with the Happily for me, Maupin is pretty much back in form with this 8th installment of the Tales of the City chronicles. I didn’t really like the previous book, Michael Tolliver Lives; it was too much Michael and his perfect husband and not enough of the cray-cray of the earlier books. In Mary Ann in Autumn, fan favorite Mary Ann, who was MIA in the last book, is reunited with her Mouse when she leaves her life in New York behind and returns to San Francisco. But will she be able to reconnect with the daughter she left behind 20 years before? And who is stalking her on Facebook? Added into the mix are said abandoned daughter, Shawna, a blogger (think a bi-sexual Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & the City, just a different city) and her obsession with a crazy street person and my favorite character of this last trilogy, transgender Jake Greenleaf, Michael’s business partner, who is (so far!) looking for love in all the wrong places. I don’t think this book quite captures the magic of the first three, but I think it will satisfy most devoted readers of the series and I look forward to finishing this up with the ninth and last book, The Days of Anna Madrigal.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    I adore Maupin’s “Tales of the City!” It was so fun to catch up with my friends from Barberry Lane, even though they no longer live there. I hate to admit it, but Mary Ann Singleton was the character I related to most when I first started reading these stories. Although 8 years apart in age, I started reading this series when I first moved into the big city, so I could relate to the whole small town kid moves to town thing. I was also working at the MN AIDS Project at the time, so was learning m I adore Maupin’s “Tales of the City!” It was so fun to catch up with my friends from Barberry Lane, even though they no longer live there. I hate to admit it, but Mary Ann Singleton was the character I related to most when I first started reading these stories. Although 8 years apart in age, I started reading this series when I first moved into the big city, so I could relate to the whole small town kid moves to town thing. I was also working at the MN AIDS Project at the time, so was learning more about the gay community at the same time I was reading about Mary Ann’s adventures in San Francisco. Hopefully I didn’t become the pill she did. Anywho, this novel sort of redeemed Mary Ann, at the same time exposing quite the skeleton from her closet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas Chinardet

    This lastest instalment of the series feels like a return to the original formula of Tales of the City. After a slight departure from this with Michael Tolliver Lives, Maupin has again used one of his slightly unbelievable thriller-type plots to give a stage to the characters we love. The mystery part of the book is very predictable but that's not really the reason why we read those books. Possibly not the best of the series. This lastest instalment of the series feels like a return to the original formula of Tales of the City. After a slight departure from this with Michael Tolliver Lives, Maupin has again used one of his slightly unbelievable thriller-type plots to give a stage to the characters we love. The mystery part of the book is very predictable but that's not really the reason why we read those books. Possibly not the best of the series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    Mary Ann Singleton is back in San Francisco (from Connecticut) after two personal calamities have knocked her off course. She had fled the city twenty years before, to escape a bad marriage; she left her adopted daughter behind as well. Now she is staying with two old friends, Michael Tolliver and his partner Ben, hoping to sort out the mess of her life in the nurturing comfort provided by friendship. The story reveals an intriguing cast of characters that includes Michael and his business partner Mary Ann Singleton is back in San Francisco (from Connecticut) after two personal calamities have knocked her off course. She had fled the city twenty years before, to escape a bad marriage; she left her adopted daughter behind as well. Now she is staying with two old friends, Michael Tolliver and his partner Ben, hoping to sort out the mess of her life in the nurturing comfort provided by friendship. The story reveals an intriguing cast of characters that includes Michael and his business partner Jake, who is undergoing transgender surgeries, officially changing from female to male. Then there is Ben, who spends time every day in the dog park, where he meets unusual people, including a man named Cliff. And finally, there is also Anna Madrigal, who is an elderly woman who has been like a touchstone for these friends, both in the past and in the present. Meanwhile, Shawna, the girl “left behind” by Mary Ann all those years ago, is focused on her popular sex blog, much to the occasional annoyance of her boyfriend Otto. While traversing the city, Shawna connects with a homeless woman to whom she feels strangely connected. At Michael and Ben’s garden cottage, Mary Ann has discovered Facebook and in the process of accepting friend requests, she is “stalked” by a curiously disturbing person called Fogbound One. Since "Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City Novel" is part of a series called Tales of the City, all of these characters have a history chronicled in previous tomes; this one felt like a brief glimpse of a life at a particular moment in time, but with several threads from the past finally coming together in the end. Surprisingly, the connections mesh quickly in this rather short book of 287 pages, but even with just this brief look into the lives of these characters, I felt as though I had come to know them. Now I want to read the other books in the series. Five stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    I have been a fan of Maupin's "Tales of the City" series since the very first tale was serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle a bazillion years ago. I was thrilled when "Tales" was first published in book form and have followed each subsequent book as it has been published (I think I read three of them in serialized version in the Chronicle). This latest book does not disappoint. All the major characters are back, all older now. Mary Ann is pushing 60 and has returned from New York to be with I have been a fan of Maupin's "Tales of the City" series since the very first tale was serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle a bazillion years ago. I was thrilled when "Tales" was first published in book form and have followed each subsequent book as it has been published (I think I read three of them in serialized version in the Chronicle). This latest book does not disappoint. All the major characters are back, all older now. Mary Ann is pushing 60 and has returned from New York to be with her best friend Michael (Mouse) as she deals with a major life crisis. Mrs. Madrigal has sold the place on Barbary Lane, and is now living in an old house, with a roommate (new character). She's older, slower, but still rolling those funny cigarettes and giving sage advice. Mouse is happily married to Ben, whom he married before it was outlawed in California again. Mostly it's familiar characters having talks like old times and I have to admit that part of the way through it, though I was enjoying it, I was wondering what the point of it all was, as the chapters rolled by. But then Something Happened that brought all the seemingly disparate pieces together and that reminded me of why I enjoy Maupin's writings so much. I also love Maupin because he mentions places I know intimately and tosses out lines like "Was it fun...Johnny O?" and I know instantly that it's from Vertigo, a movie which has a scene filmed just a couple of blocks from the house where I grew up. If you've been a fan of Maupin's books before, you'll enjoy this one too. I don't know that he has another in the Tales series in him....everybody is getting too old for a sequel!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    "Mary Ann in Autumn" is the penultimate book in the nine-volume "Tales of the City" series, and it demonstrates how much Armistead Maupin has grown as a writer over a thirty-year period. "Tales of the City," the first book, was a jokey, rather thin narrative, but Maupin has learned how to write a book that has a lot more meat on its bones. The style of "Mary Ann in Autumn" is maturely seriocomic, the characterization is deft and economical, and the emotional climaxes are carefully prepared and d "Mary Ann in Autumn" is the penultimate book in the nine-volume "Tales of the City" series, and it demonstrates how much Armistead Maupin has grown as a writer over a thirty-year period. "Tales of the City," the first book, was a jokey, rather thin narrative, but Maupin has learned how to write a book that has a lot more meat on its bones. The style of "Mary Ann in Autumn" is maturely seriocomic, the characterization is deft and economical, and the emotional climaxes are carefully prepared and delivered. It startled me to realize that I am exactly the same age as Mary Ann Singleton and her longtime gay friend, Michael Tolliver, so accompanying these two on their journey from book to book (and I have read all of them in a short space of time) is like revisiting key milestones in my life: the hedonistic 70s, the frightening advent of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, the hallucinatory Reagan years, the go-go 1990s, post-9/11 anxiety, and finally confronting what it means to enter late middle age (or "young old age"). It's been a dizzying trip, and now I'm on the brink of saying goodbye to these much loved people and their milieu in the last book, "Anna Madrigal Lives." I'm feeling wistful and rather melancholy as I approach the end of this wonderful series of books. Thanks, Armistead Maupin, for a great ride.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    Ugh. It is like coming home, and I hate hate hate hate hate when it is over. This book was not as emotionally wrenching, to my memory, as Michael Tolliver Lives, and that was a-ok. But, as my daddy put it the "gothic" element really came back and rushed in and was wonderful and I was reading it in a bathtub in a lonely creaky house and it was a little terrifying. This book make me laugh out loud, catch my breath, and squeal every few pages without being painful, existential or anything but, well, Ugh. It is like coming home, and I hate hate hate hate hate when it is over. This book was not as emotionally wrenching, to my memory, as Michael Tolliver Lives, and that was a-ok. But, as my daddy put it the "gothic" element really came back and rushed in and was wonderful and I was reading it in a bathtub in a lonely creaky house and it was a little terrifying. This book make me laugh out loud, catch my breath, and squeal every few pages without being painful, existential or anything but, well, fun. The Jake storyline is going to stick with me -- essentially, yes, we are yearning for a strong masculine presence to hold us, but who really says what that presence has to look like? Anna Madrigal is an angel, for reals, and we're all blessed to know her. I'm glad for Mary Ann's basic redemption, and I tend to wish I lived in this easy-yet-complicated world until the gothic strikes! Finally, made me reflect on the time-bound nature of the story -- and how very "of it's time" in a time capsule way TOC was in the olden days, and how it's odd, yet fitting, that it's doing the same thing for Facebook and Blogs and Dog Parks today that it was doing for joints and grocery store cruising in the 70s. Geez. I mean, I feel old! Thanks Monsieur Maupin. Thanks a buttload.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Conlon

    Why is it that I always feel a little sad when I finish reading a Maupin book? Maupin reminds me very much of Dickens. He has these wonderful intricate, episodic plots that make you want to keep racing ahead. But it is his characters more than anything that make Maupin's books so wonderful. Maupin, like Dickens, has the rare talent for creating these wonderful characters who are all too human with their secret flaws and fears they are afraid to reveal. And if you've read all of the Tales of the Why is it that I always feel a little sad when I finish reading a Maupin book? Maupin reminds me very much of Dickens. He has these wonderful intricate, episodic plots that make you want to keep racing ahead. But it is his characters more than anything that make Maupin's books so wonderful. Maupin, like Dickens, has the rare talent for creating these wonderful characters who are all too human with their secret flaws and fears they are afraid to reveal. And if you've read all of the Tales of the City books, you come to know some of the characters in a very intimate way, and you end up falling in love with them often because of--not in spite of--their flaws. But the flaws are gradually outed, but to kindly and sympathetically received by those around them--often to the wise Mrs. Madrigal. I once heard the quote "A good book reveals us to ourselves." I don't know who said that, sorry. But I think that through Maupin's characters, we see ourselves--flaws and all. But they get the kind of resolution we wish we had in our lives. Maybe that's why I's sad when I'm done reading a Maupin book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert Starner

    Ah bliss to be back with the folks from Barbary Lane. Maupin still imbues his characters and his city with all the delights, humor, happenstance, mystic, and mystery that was prevalent in his previous Tales of City books. Mary Ann has returned to the city after being on the East Coast for way too long. Strife brings her to seek support from Michael and DeeDee and the homecoming in heartfelt, though the passages. Maupin's sparse and lighthearted style is as strong and as capitivating as ever. My Ah bliss to be back with the folks from Barbary Lane. Maupin still imbues his characters and his city with all the delights, humor, happenstance, mystic, and mystery that was prevalent in his previous Tales of City books. Mary Ann has returned to the city after being on the East Coast for way too long. Strife brings her to seek support from Michael and DeeDee and the homecoming in heartfelt, though the passages. Maupin's sparse and lighthearted style is as strong and as capitivating as ever. My heart sang and I was quite blissful for the three days that I was in this book. I didn't want it to end, and yet Maupin throws a huge plot twist in the very last moments of the book that I should have seen coming but didn't but nonetheless was quite entertaining. These characters have become so blended with the actors' portrayals in the miniseries and have meant so much to me over the years that I am always delighted to visit and revisit anytime. Bless you Mr. Maupin for such a delightful series of books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    I don't remember being particularly impressed with Tolliver's other new Tales book, Michael Tolliver Lives, but Mary Ann in Autumn was much better. On the one hand, I'd not particularly thrilled to be reading these books about young characters that I enjoyed now moving into (and beyond) middle age. I'd prefer to remember them as forever young in a way that only fictional characters can be. Despite that, I can't help myself from reading the newest. And Mary Ann in Autumn was worth it. It returns no I don't remember being particularly impressed with Tolliver's other new Tales book, Michael Tolliver Lives, but Mary Ann in Autumn was much better. On the one hand, I'd not particularly thrilled to be reading these books about young characters that I enjoyed now moving into (and beyond) middle age. I'd prefer to remember them as forever young in a way that only fictional characters can be. Despite that, I can't help myself from reading the newest. And Mary Ann in Autumn was worth it. It returns not just to the characters of Maupin's older stories, but also to the type of stories that Maupin was writing when the series was at its best, in its first few volumes. There's mystery here, very nicely setup and executed that goes hand-in-hand with the deeper character moments that exist throughout. There's also some really nice continuity. By the time it was done, the plot had become one of my favorites of the series, and one that was very deftly written in a way that Maupin might not have been able to back when he was serializing these stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    retro

    One doesn't turn to Armistead Maupin for the intense thrill of a detective novel, but rather for the warmth of familiar company. Reading Mary Ann in Autumn is like visiting with old friends: the years may have changed them, but they're still there, still living and loving and making mistakes. The plot twists are predictable and the wealth of history behind each character makes it hard to keep afloat of recent developments, but then the expectation isn't to be surprised but rather to find the com One doesn't turn to Armistead Maupin for the intense thrill of a detective novel, but rather for the warmth of familiar company. Reading Mary Ann in Autumn is like visiting with old friends: the years may have changed them, but they're still there, still living and loving and making mistakes. The plot twists are predictable and the wealth of history behind each character makes it hard to keep afloat of recent developments, but then the expectation isn't to be surprised but rather to find the comfort of the familiar echoed in the pages of this latest novel in the Tales of the City series. Without giving anything away about the plot, I do think this is a book for fans of the series. New readers are likely to find themselves lost in the backstory, while for the rest of us, the promise of a reunion with Mrs Madrigal's 'logical' family is surely enough incentive to beg for an encore. And another. And another.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave Whitaker

    I found this book in the lobby of our apartment building, where residents leave things for others in the building (we've found a lot of great stuff there). I was surprised to find this book, since I didn't know Maupin had another book in the Tales of the City series. I read it very quickly and loved it. The novel brings things full circle. I really hated to see, over the years, how Mary Ann became a not so nice person. This book redeems her character. I realized I've been reading this series sin I found this book in the lobby of our apartment building, where residents leave things for others in the building (we've found a lot of great stuff there). I was surprised to find this book, since I didn't know Maupin had another book in the Tales of the City series. I read it very quickly and loved it. The novel brings things full circle. I really hated to see, over the years, how Mary Ann became a not so nice person. This book redeems her character. I realized I've been reading this series since I was 19 or 20 and now the characters are in middel age or past middle age. It's sad and sweet to follow these characters over the years, who really mirror people I know, including myself. Although it's easy to figure out what's going to happen in the book, it doesn't really matter. It's the sweet and bittersweet moments little moments between the characters that make it a satisfying read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    R. Diskin Black

    Just as I felt after reading "Michael Toliver Lives", "Mary Ann in Autumn" is like visiting with old friends. It's comforting and immensely entertaining to curl up with these books. For me, they're Charles Dickens meets "Downton Abbey" meets Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories". I have also noticed with these last two books how much Armistead Maupin has matured as a writer. They have a beauty in their prose that the earliest books in the series didn't always possess, even though they are all Just as I felt after reading "Michael Toliver Lives", "Mary Ann in Autumn" is like visiting with old friends. It's comforting and immensely entertaining to curl up with these books. For me, they're Charles Dickens meets "Downton Abbey" meets Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories". I have also noticed with these last two books how much Armistead Maupin has matured as a writer. They have a beauty in their prose that the earliest books in the series didn't always possess, even though they are all great fun! I must add - without revealing any spoilers - that there is a story line from the very beginning of the series that comes full circle here and is exemplary of what I love, need and expect from Maupin and "Tales of the City".

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