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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 "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.

Topics: California

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062020147
List price: $9.99
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more fun + intrigue from the inhabitants of Barbary Lane more
Twenty years ago, Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and daughter behind to pursue her dream of a career in television. Things were going well until she was diagnosed with cancer, and then discovers the her husband is sleeping with her therapist. That final straw convinces her to leave New York for a while and to return to San Francisco hopefully to find some comfort from her long-time friend, Michael Tolliver. But even that won't be easy because of resistance to her from Michael's partner Ben and from the memories of a past failed romance brought to the present thanks to a seemingly random connection on Facebook.For fans of the "Tales of the City" series, such as myself, this novel fits in nicely, continuing with the stories and the live of characters we know and love. Even if you've never read one of the earlier books, the characters feel like old friends, that you're catching up with them after a short break. That makes this a comfortable, easy read. But, I felt that the three different stories -- Mary Ann reconnecting with Michael, Anna Madrigal's roommate Jake meeting with a closeted Mormon, and Mary Ann's estranged daughter Shawna trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend -- should have intersected more as they progressed. In the earlier books, all the characters interact with one another at various times, making their stories interconnected, but with this book, they definitely seemed separate, as if they had no bearing on one another, until the last-minute revelations in the final chapters -- and then it felt a bit coincidental.Still, "Mary Ann in Autumn" is a good read, and those already familiar with the characters will enjoy it. And those who've never read the prior novels will want to go back and discover the characters' histories.more
I find this was a darker and more intense Maupin. It's been years since I read the first tales, but they definitely had a lighter spin. With cancer at its core, I had the sense that the author was ready to grapple with aging, disease, death. The Norman episode was downright terrifying.I guess therein lies Maupin's genious, despite this darkness, despite the doubts that plague Mary Ann and Jake, despite Michael's age and creaking bones, there is still an ability to laugh at life, to revel in the quiet moments of togetherness and to live with dignity and wisdom.The story structure is fantastic: it kept me on the edge of my seat - perhaps a bit too complex, but masterfully executed.more
Brilliant, and the ending was so shocking.I hated Mary Ann for the last two books and never thought I would like her again, but this book completely redeemed her and now I love her as much as Michael and Anna Madrigal.My favourite "new generation" character is Jake. I really wish his story got some more closure. Here's hoping for a 9th TotC novel.more
Maupin comes back to the short chapters, multiple POV, third person formula of the original Tales of the city for this second 21st century reunion of the folks from 28 Barbary Lane. The story this time also reverts to the more melodramatic, Hitchcockish plots of the first books. There's maybe not quite as much humour as there could be, but we do get plenty of sentiment: a definite nostalgia trip. Apart from the gadgets-of-the-moment — iphones and facebooks instead of pet rocks and rolodexes — we could easily be back in the seventies.I doubt if this would be much fun for anyone who hasn't grown up with Maupin's books (or at least come out with them), but for those of us who have, it's a most necessary fix. Thank you, Mr M!more
Mary Ann, much maligned in the second 'Tales of the City' trilogy but redeemed somewhat in 'Michael Tolliver Lives!' returns to San Francisco, is reunited with many of her old friends, and also, more alarmingly, with an old and almost-forgotten enemy. To a great extent, the joy of this book is the reader’s own reuniting with the familiar and much-loved characters – all ageing now; I fear Mrs Madrigal won’t last another volume. Woe! If Maupin is now inclined to be a little kinder to Mary Ann, he also seems to have fallen somewhat out of love with the annoying Shawna, which can only be a good thing. ('Grrrl on the Loose'? Could that be any more 90s?)The reason for Mary Ann’s return, by the way, is that she has ovarian cancer and wants to have the operation in San Francisco – DeDe Halcyon Day acts as her support here. I have to say, Mary Ann has the best cancer ever: barely has she been diagnosed than she goes in for a teeny-tiny op that goes perfectly, needs almost no recovery time, and is given a clean bill of health thereafter. Lucky bloody Mary Ann, I say.more
Yet another delightful foray into the world of Maupin's San Francisco! I have loved all of the books in the Tales of the City series, and this one is no excpetion! I have to admit, I entered it with a little trepidation, as Mary Ann was always my least favoured and sympathetic character in the books, and knowing this one centred on her was a worry, but those worries were instantly banished! Age has mellowed Mary Ann into a much more likeable character, and I found myself really identifying with her and rooting for her all along!Michael is his usual jovial self, and I really like the younger characters that have been introduced into the series, and can see new stories emerging through them as the older ones bow out slowly, especially Jake Greenleaf, Michael's transgender business partner.It's testament to the way Maupin draws you into his characters world so completely that the line "He's getting his hysterectomy" doesn't feel odd at all, and fits perfectly! I did however have one small gripe, I found the continued references to things like i-pods and blackberry's and the use of "youth" language, like "sick" and "word", really annoying! It felt a bit too much like Maupin was trying to prove that he was, to use some of that language myself "down with the kids!" Personally, I just don't find that works in a novel, product placement is all very well in movies, but I don't want it in a book thanks!!more
Last but far from least in th marvelous Tales of the City trilogy. Mary Ann's story and the stories of all the people in the trilogy are riveting. The series and the book have a Dickensian feel about them in the way that the characters connect to one another.more
As ever from Maupin, an enjoyable read with superb dialogue. It's like meeting up with old friends for a comfortable and unchallenging chat around the fire.more
The old characters are back again. They are older, but are they wiser?more
I didn't feel right at home when I began Mary Ann in Autumn. I thought I would. I expected to. I always have before. Each new addition to the Tales of the City books felt like bumping into a bunch of old friends I hadn't seen in a while. All of us grabbing a cup of coffee together so we could have a chance to catch up. (Since we all know each other from San Francisco none of us actually drinks coffee. Lattes, mochas, cappacinos, a chai maybe, but never just coffee.)Mr. Maupin abandoned Mary Ann Singleton several books back. She left San Francisco, her "husband" and their adopted daughter and headed off to New York City hoping to make it big in television. She didn't, but she married well and settled down to the life of a Connecticut housewife. That's tantamount to treason for someone from San Francisco.It's clear in the first few pages that this will be Mary Ann's farewell book. She begins by going back to the old homestead, 28 Barbary Lane, where we first met the main cast of characters living with the magical Mrs. Madrigal in the 1970's when we read Tales of the City in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mary Ann is looking for a past that's gone. Someone else lives there. They've fixed the place up. Most of her old haunts have changed hands and changed names. In an echo of the first novel's opening line she considers going to the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. She's not wearing a mood ring this time around, but if she were it's color would be misty blue. (You can look it up here.)My problem is that Mr. Maupin has been saying farewell to these characters for the past three or four novels. We've been saying goodbye to 28 Barbary Lane every couple of years since Significant Others (book 4) came out. Then, some 60 pages into the book or so, Mary Ann gets a phone call from a stranger who asks if she remembers someone long dead and a mystery is a-foot. I'd forgotten that Mary Ann's story lines always involved some sort of mystery, something like a high camp Hitchcock. A child pornographer who wears clip-on ties, a homeless mystic who might be the Rev. Jim Jones, a secret cult engaging in cannibalistic communion high in the rafters of Grace Cathedral. Absurd plots that Mary Ann stumbles into while looking for Mr. Right. And I felt at home again.more
I didn't like this book very much at first, but I made myself keep reading, because I love Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City. I think Maupin has a real gift for tying together seemingly random and disparate plot points and having them interconnect in a satisfying way, and ultimately I'm glad I kept reading. But while I love knowing what Mrs. Madrigal and Michael and Mary Ann are up to these days, having them speak in a contemporary voice still feels weird to me.more
Before there was Sex and the City, there were Tales of the City. Granted, it was a different city...and some different sex in that city. Armistead Maupin’s stories of singles and couples - gay, straight, and either/or - navigating their way through San Francisco over the course during a decade that went from the disco dazzle of the mid-70s to the AIDS crisis in Reagan’s America were originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle and collected into six novels. I read and re-read the series every couple of years throughout the 1990s - they’re probably the books I’ve read most as an adult. The plots were often outlandish - Episcopal cannibal cults! - and sometimes very specific to a certain time period - escapees from the Jonestown massacre! - but I grew to love the characters, and I got most of my education in gay culture from Maupin’s Tales.After almost two decades away from the City’s characters, Maupin revisited some of them in 2007’s Michael Tolliver Lives, and now he’s back with them again, effectively coming full circle. The original Tales of the City opened when twentysomething secretary Mary Ann Singleton decided, on the last day of her San Francisco vacation, that she wasn’t going back home to Cleveland. And she never did, although twelve years later she did leave the city - and her husband, adopted daughter, and AIDS-infected best friend - for an East Coast career opportunity. That fizzled, but Mary Ann stayed on, marrying a wealthy businessman and becoming stepmother to his young son, while life went on without her in the City by the Bay. The aforementioned Michael benefited from breakthroughs in AIDS treatments and eventually found a much younger husband; ex-husband Brian raised daughter Shawna on his own and, once she was on her own, took off by himself to explore the USA in an RV; and Shawna became “Grrrl on the Loose,” a high-profile sex blogger. But having reconnected with them all a few years earlier, Mary Ann doesn’t think twice about flying back to San Francisco in the wake of two major personal crises.All of the preceding plot discussion is meant to set the scene for this novel...but since, like the preceding Tales, Mary Ann in Autumn is strongly driven by plot, I won’t say more. Maupin continues to be tuned in to contemporary culture; as mentioned, Shawna is a blogger, and Michael’s husband Ben introduces Mary Ann to Facebook. That introduction leads to a mysterious connection that becomes an unwelcome reminder of a thirty-year-old loose end - something Mary Ann does NOT need to deal with on top of the marital and health crises that sent her back to San Francisco in the first place.While Maupin has brought some newer, younger characters into the fold, it’s my familiar favorites that keep me reading. I do consider the Tales books to be plot-driven, but the plot wouldn’t drive me if I didn’t care about the characters - and I do love these folks. Mary Ann and Michael are well into middle age now, facing - and talking about - the changes that come with it as they draw on their long history together. There are three major plot threads in the novel. One essentially stands on its own, but the other two begin to overlap and integrate as the novel progresses - and as they do, they pull in that thirty-year-old loose end and circle back to the very first Tales. Having said that, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the earlier books in the series before picking up this one. But if you have, you’ll make some connections that a newbie wouldn’t, and that will enhance your enjoyment of the story. And if you haven’t, you’ll probably want to go read them all anyway, just to fill in the backstory.I had thought that Sure of You (1990) would be the last of the Tales of the City, but now I’m glad it wasn’t. If Mary Ann in Autumn turns out to be where the story ends, I’m quite satisfied with where Armistead Maupin is leaving it.more
fun to see this series again and all the characters and see what happened to them. i am mary ann's age so we are all older but that's better than the alternative!i remember this series more from tv although i did read the books. mary ann and her stories were very clear in my memory. also mrs madrigal. i wish we could have seen more of her here. not so clear was michael.more
Another classic from Maupin. Left me wishing I had the next in the series already.more
I’ve read many, though not all, of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” books – and as I started into this one, it was wonderful to read about these characters again.I think that the title is very appropriate – there is definitely an autumnal feel to the book. Throughout this – there is a feeling of things ending, a sense of letting go although that isn’t necessarily true in the storylines of all the characters. Regardless, as I read through the book, I found myself feeling more and more nostalgic and a bit sad.“It all goes so fast, she thought. We dole out our lives in dinner parties and plane flights, and it’s over before we know it. We lose everyone we love, if they don’t lose us first, and every single thing we do is intended to distract us from that reality.”Maybe that’s what dampened my enthusiasm for this book. When I picked it up – I thought it would be another chance to enjoy characters and stories that I had loved in the past, and instead it felt like another chance to say goodbye.Anyway, I enjoyed Maupin’s writing style just as much and just wish I could have found the same enjoyment in what transpired in “Mary Ann in Autumn”.more
Did I love it because of the way it was written or because it brought back the feelings when I read Tales of the City in the Chronicle years ago? His dialogue is the best. The humor he puts into his work is always entertaining.more
Armistead Maupin just can't seem to let the characters from his "Tales of the City" series go, and for that, I am very, very glad. In this installment, Mary Ann returns to San Francisco with her marriage in tatters and a big health problem. Many of our old friends from the previous books - Michael Tolliver, Dee De Halcyon, d'Or, Anna Madrigal (although poignantly aged) and Mary Ann's estranged step-daughter Shawna - make their appearance here. And there is the usual sinister element which, thankfully, is nicely resolved by the end of the book.Reading a new installment in this series is like getting together with old friends after a long absence. One falls into familiar rhythms & soon it's like there hasn't been an absence at all. Here's hoping that Maupin will never abandon these characters and will continue their stories into many more volumes.more
I have taken some time to think about this, as I do not wantmy review to contain a "spoiler". I will do the best that I can. This is mainly a story about Mary Ann, one of the characters in the beloved Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. It was in 1976that the first book of this series was released. That is when we first metMary Ann. We also met Michael Tolliver, the main character of the book thatprecedes this one. Anna Madrigal, a flamboyant landlady if a rather spectacular set of flats in San Francisco was introduced in that first book. She, along with Mona, Michael, Brian Mary Ann and others became a sort of family. The series carries us along and shows us what is happening in the lives of the people who first came together at 28 Barbary Lane. I think that thisbook will be most enjoyed by those who are familiar with Mary Ann from herdays on Barbary Lane. In my opinion, this book falls just a little bit short when compared to the books written around the full cast of Barbary Lane character. Even though you will findmany of them here, it isn't quite the same. I loved the full, rich characters and still do when they are presented here. I feel that the effort made to focus on a single charactertakes a little something away from the ensemble that we have come to know and love. Do I think this is a worthy read? Absolutely! Is it as good as the first six books of this series. Not quite. Nor was Michael Tolliver Lives, but it too is a rich and worthyread. If you have not read any of the other books in this series, do yourself a favor and beginat the beginning. You will find characters that you will think of as friends. You willbe richer for having known them and you will return to them again and again. I know I have.more
Oh I was so happy to hear a new Armistead Maupin book was coming out and that it continued the Tales of the City series I have loved and read and re-read... I pre-ordered it and it was delivered with a colourful cover which confirmed that San Francisco is the best city in the world... Anyway. The book is set 20 years after Mary Ann has left the town to pursue fame on the east coast and finds her returning to SF with a heavy heart and in need of good friends. She's not a particularly likeable person now but eventually relaxes (like she did when she first came to SF) and builds up some of the relationships she has let drift since she left.Like the other books, there are challenging events which are narrated well - hinting at the awfulness but managing to cover them with a light touch - and we get to meet some new characters along the way. It all ties up, coincidences are not so coincidental but you are left with a feeling of happy contentment and wishing for yet another book in the series. I couldn't really picture Mary-Ann, Michael and Anna as in their middle and old ages, despite references to their hair colour, but maybe that's because I am just too familiar with their young selves in previous books. But anyway, a highly recommended read, especially if you have enjoyed Maupin's other work.more
Maupin has done a good job re-starting the Tales of the City series especially after a lengthy hiatus. It looks as if he is going to continue it beyond this book, given the number of unresolved issues in this novel, e.g. Jake's transition. I'm looking forward to the next one.It's not necessary to have read the previous books in the series (although it helps piece the stories together) but they are good reading too.more
Revisiting old friends is one of life’s great pleasures. This has certainly been no exception. I anticipated this reading from moment I became aware of the book and was not disappointed. I find Maupin’s style easy to read which makes getting lost in the lives of these characters a pleasant indulgence. If you follow Tales of the City you will find a lot of little familiar references. It was interesting to reflect on the journey, from discos, poppers and sex in the 70s, to Facebook, blogging and, well, sex in the new millennium. A great joy.more
It was sheer pleasure reading about all of these wonderful characters again. As I turned the last page, I wanted more. I hope there will be more. I hope these TALES of the CITY novels will go on forever. Mary Ann, Mouse and Anna Madrigal all resonate as real people to me, from the first time I was introduced. These are much more then just characters in a book, at least to me anyway. They are old friends. And I want to spend more time with them.more
I liked this book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as its predecessor, Michael Tolliver Lives. This story was much darker and seemed to have an underlying message that you shouldn't trust the people around you. It did make me like Mary Ann much more; the narrative really humanized her.more
One of the best things is to sit down with a book by Armistead Maupin, and crack the cover to peak inside for the first time. It is like coming home and opening the door and finding all of my closest friends waiting there with open arms. No matter what he writes about, it is sure to be filled with real people. Bazar maybe, but real none the less. Mary Ann in Autumn does not disappoint. Old characters who we have loved from book to book returning, new ones cropping up where you least expect them. Welcome home Armistead Maupin!!! Thank you for another rich, lyrical, filled with jeweled elephants, book to add to a wonderful collection of novels filled with old friends. Keep them coming- Please!more
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Reviews

more fun + intrigue from the inhabitants of Barbary Lane more
Twenty years ago, Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and daughter behind to pursue her dream of a career in television. Things were going well until she was diagnosed with cancer, and then discovers the her husband is sleeping with her therapist. That final straw convinces her to leave New York for a while and to return to San Francisco hopefully to find some comfort from her long-time friend, Michael Tolliver. But even that won't be easy because of resistance to her from Michael's partner Ben and from the memories of a past failed romance brought to the present thanks to a seemingly random connection on Facebook.For fans of the "Tales of the City" series, such as myself, this novel fits in nicely, continuing with the stories and the live of characters we know and love. Even if you've never read one of the earlier books, the characters feel like old friends, that you're catching up with them after a short break. That makes this a comfortable, easy read. But, I felt that the three different stories -- Mary Ann reconnecting with Michael, Anna Madrigal's roommate Jake meeting with a closeted Mormon, and Mary Ann's estranged daughter Shawna trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend -- should have intersected more as they progressed. In the earlier books, all the characters interact with one another at various times, making their stories interconnected, but with this book, they definitely seemed separate, as if they had no bearing on one another, until the last-minute revelations in the final chapters -- and then it felt a bit coincidental.Still, "Mary Ann in Autumn" is a good read, and those already familiar with the characters will enjoy it. And those who've never read the prior novels will want to go back and discover the characters' histories.more
I find this was a darker and more intense Maupin. It's been years since I read the first tales, but they definitely had a lighter spin. With cancer at its core, I had the sense that the author was ready to grapple with aging, disease, death. The Norman episode was downright terrifying.I guess therein lies Maupin's genious, despite this darkness, despite the doubts that plague Mary Ann and Jake, despite Michael's age and creaking bones, there is still an ability to laugh at life, to revel in the quiet moments of togetherness and to live with dignity and wisdom.The story structure is fantastic: it kept me on the edge of my seat - perhaps a bit too complex, but masterfully executed.more
Brilliant, and the ending was so shocking.I hated Mary Ann for the last two books and never thought I would like her again, but this book completely redeemed her and now I love her as much as Michael and Anna Madrigal.My favourite "new generation" character is Jake. I really wish his story got some more closure. Here's hoping for a 9th TotC novel.more
Maupin comes back to the short chapters, multiple POV, third person formula of the original Tales of the city for this second 21st century reunion of the folks from 28 Barbary Lane. The story this time also reverts to the more melodramatic, Hitchcockish plots of the first books. There's maybe not quite as much humour as there could be, but we do get plenty of sentiment: a definite nostalgia trip. Apart from the gadgets-of-the-moment — iphones and facebooks instead of pet rocks and rolodexes — we could easily be back in the seventies.I doubt if this would be much fun for anyone who hasn't grown up with Maupin's books (or at least come out with them), but for those of us who have, it's a most necessary fix. Thank you, Mr M!more
Mary Ann, much maligned in the second 'Tales of the City' trilogy but redeemed somewhat in 'Michael Tolliver Lives!' returns to San Francisco, is reunited with many of her old friends, and also, more alarmingly, with an old and almost-forgotten enemy. To a great extent, the joy of this book is the reader’s own reuniting with the familiar and much-loved characters – all ageing now; I fear Mrs Madrigal won’t last another volume. Woe! If Maupin is now inclined to be a little kinder to Mary Ann, he also seems to have fallen somewhat out of love with the annoying Shawna, which can only be a good thing. ('Grrrl on the Loose'? Could that be any more 90s?)The reason for Mary Ann’s return, by the way, is that she has ovarian cancer and wants to have the operation in San Francisco – DeDe Halcyon Day acts as her support here. I have to say, Mary Ann has the best cancer ever: barely has she been diagnosed than she goes in for a teeny-tiny op that goes perfectly, needs almost no recovery time, and is given a clean bill of health thereafter. Lucky bloody Mary Ann, I say.more
Yet another delightful foray into the world of Maupin's San Francisco! I have loved all of the books in the Tales of the City series, and this one is no excpetion! I have to admit, I entered it with a little trepidation, as Mary Ann was always my least favoured and sympathetic character in the books, and knowing this one centred on her was a worry, but those worries were instantly banished! Age has mellowed Mary Ann into a much more likeable character, and I found myself really identifying with her and rooting for her all along!Michael is his usual jovial self, and I really like the younger characters that have been introduced into the series, and can see new stories emerging through them as the older ones bow out slowly, especially Jake Greenleaf, Michael's transgender business partner.It's testament to the way Maupin draws you into his characters world so completely that the line "He's getting his hysterectomy" doesn't feel odd at all, and fits perfectly! I did however have one small gripe, I found the continued references to things like i-pods and blackberry's and the use of "youth" language, like "sick" and "word", really annoying! It felt a bit too much like Maupin was trying to prove that he was, to use some of that language myself "down with the kids!" Personally, I just don't find that works in a novel, product placement is all very well in movies, but I don't want it in a book thanks!!more
Last but far from least in th marvelous Tales of the City trilogy. Mary Ann's story and the stories of all the people in the trilogy are riveting. The series and the book have a Dickensian feel about them in the way that the characters connect to one another.more
As ever from Maupin, an enjoyable read with superb dialogue. It's like meeting up with old friends for a comfortable and unchallenging chat around the fire.more
The old characters are back again. They are older, but are they wiser?more
I didn't feel right at home when I began Mary Ann in Autumn. I thought I would. I expected to. I always have before. Each new addition to the Tales of the City books felt like bumping into a bunch of old friends I hadn't seen in a while. All of us grabbing a cup of coffee together so we could have a chance to catch up. (Since we all know each other from San Francisco none of us actually drinks coffee. Lattes, mochas, cappacinos, a chai maybe, but never just coffee.)Mr. Maupin abandoned Mary Ann Singleton several books back. She left San Francisco, her "husband" and their adopted daughter and headed off to New York City hoping to make it big in television. She didn't, but she married well and settled down to the life of a Connecticut housewife. That's tantamount to treason for someone from San Francisco.It's clear in the first few pages that this will be Mary Ann's farewell book. She begins by going back to the old homestead, 28 Barbary Lane, where we first met the main cast of characters living with the magical Mrs. Madrigal in the 1970's when we read Tales of the City in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mary Ann is looking for a past that's gone. Someone else lives there. They've fixed the place up. Most of her old haunts have changed hands and changed names. In an echo of the first novel's opening line she considers going to the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. She's not wearing a mood ring this time around, but if she were it's color would be misty blue. (You can look it up here.)My problem is that Mr. Maupin has been saying farewell to these characters for the past three or four novels. We've been saying goodbye to 28 Barbary Lane every couple of years since Significant Others (book 4) came out. Then, some 60 pages into the book or so, Mary Ann gets a phone call from a stranger who asks if she remembers someone long dead and a mystery is a-foot. I'd forgotten that Mary Ann's story lines always involved some sort of mystery, something like a high camp Hitchcock. A child pornographer who wears clip-on ties, a homeless mystic who might be the Rev. Jim Jones, a secret cult engaging in cannibalistic communion high in the rafters of Grace Cathedral. Absurd plots that Mary Ann stumbles into while looking for Mr. Right. And I felt at home again.more
I didn't like this book very much at first, but I made myself keep reading, because I love Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City. I think Maupin has a real gift for tying together seemingly random and disparate plot points and having them interconnect in a satisfying way, and ultimately I'm glad I kept reading. But while I love knowing what Mrs. Madrigal and Michael and Mary Ann are up to these days, having them speak in a contemporary voice still feels weird to me.more
Before there was Sex and the City, there were Tales of the City. Granted, it was a different city...and some different sex in that city. Armistead Maupin’s stories of singles and couples - gay, straight, and either/or - navigating their way through San Francisco over the course during a decade that went from the disco dazzle of the mid-70s to the AIDS crisis in Reagan’s America were originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle and collected into six novels. I read and re-read the series every couple of years throughout the 1990s - they’re probably the books I’ve read most as an adult. The plots were often outlandish - Episcopal cannibal cults! - and sometimes very specific to a certain time period - escapees from the Jonestown massacre! - but I grew to love the characters, and I got most of my education in gay culture from Maupin’s Tales.After almost two decades away from the City’s characters, Maupin revisited some of them in 2007’s Michael Tolliver Lives, and now he’s back with them again, effectively coming full circle. The original Tales of the City opened when twentysomething secretary Mary Ann Singleton decided, on the last day of her San Francisco vacation, that she wasn’t going back home to Cleveland. And she never did, although twelve years later she did leave the city - and her husband, adopted daughter, and AIDS-infected best friend - for an East Coast career opportunity. That fizzled, but Mary Ann stayed on, marrying a wealthy businessman and becoming stepmother to his young son, while life went on without her in the City by the Bay. The aforementioned Michael benefited from breakthroughs in AIDS treatments and eventually found a much younger husband; ex-husband Brian raised daughter Shawna on his own and, once she was on her own, took off by himself to explore the USA in an RV; and Shawna became “Grrrl on the Loose,” a high-profile sex blogger. But having reconnected with them all a few years earlier, Mary Ann doesn’t think twice about flying back to San Francisco in the wake of two major personal crises.All of the preceding plot discussion is meant to set the scene for this novel...but since, like the preceding Tales, Mary Ann in Autumn is strongly driven by plot, I won’t say more. Maupin continues to be tuned in to contemporary culture; as mentioned, Shawna is a blogger, and Michael’s husband Ben introduces Mary Ann to Facebook. That introduction leads to a mysterious connection that becomes an unwelcome reminder of a thirty-year-old loose end - something Mary Ann does NOT need to deal with on top of the marital and health crises that sent her back to San Francisco in the first place.While Maupin has brought some newer, younger characters into the fold, it’s my familiar favorites that keep me reading. I do consider the Tales books to be plot-driven, but the plot wouldn’t drive me if I didn’t care about the characters - and I do love these folks. Mary Ann and Michael are well into middle age now, facing - and talking about - the changes that come with it as they draw on their long history together. There are three major plot threads in the novel. One essentially stands on its own, but the other two begin to overlap and integrate as the novel progresses - and as they do, they pull in that thirty-year-old loose end and circle back to the very first Tales. Having said that, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the earlier books in the series before picking up this one. But if you have, you’ll make some connections that a newbie wouldn’t, and that will enhance your enjoyment of the story. And if you haven’t, you’ll probably want to go read them all anyway, just to fill in the backstory.I had thought that Sure of You (1990) would be the last of the Tales of the City, but now I’m glad it wasn’t. If Mary Ann in Autumn turns out to be where the story ends, I’m quite satisfied with where Armistead Maupin is leaving it.more
fun to see this series again and all the characters and see what happened to them. i am mary ann's age so we are all older but that's better than the alternative!i remember this series more from tv although i did read the books. mary ann and her stories were very clear in my memory. also mrs madrigal. i wish we could have seen more of her here. not so clear was michael.more
Another classic from Maupin. Left me wishing I had the next in the series already.more
I’ve read many, though not all, of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” books – and as I started into this one, it was wonderful to read about these characters again.I think that the title is very appropriate – there is definitely an autumnal feel to the book. Throughout this – there is a feeling of things ending, a sense of letting go although that isn’t necessarily true in the storylines of all the characters. Regardless, as I read through the book, I found myself feeling more and more nostalgic and a bit sad.“It all goes so fast, she thought. We dole out our lives in dinner parties and plane flights, and it’s over before we know it. We lose everyone we love, if they don’t lose us first, and every single thing we do is intended to distract us from that reality.”Maybe that’s what dampened my enthusiasm for this book. When I picked it up – I thought it would be another chance to enjoy characters and stories that I had loved in the past, and instead it felt like another chance to say goodbye.Anyway, I enjoyed Maupin’s writing style just as much and just wish I could have found the same enjoyment in what transpired in “Mary Ann in Autumn”.more
Did I love it because of the way it was written or because it brought back the feelings when I read Tales of the City in the Chronicle years ago? His dialogue is the best. The humor he puts into his work is always entertaining.more
Armistead Maupin just can't seem to let the characters from his "Tales of the City" series go, and for that, I am very, very glad. In this installment, Mary Ann returns to San Francisco with her marriage in tatters and a big health problem. Many of our old friends from the previous books - Michael Tolliver, Dee De Halcyon, d'Or, Anna Madrigal (although poignantly aged) and Mary Ann's estranged step-daughter Shawna - make their appearance here. And there is the usual sinister element which, thankfully, is nicely resolved by the end of the book.Reading a new installment in this series is like getting together with old friends after a long absence. One falls into familiar rhythms & soon it's like there hasn't been an absence at all. Here's hoping that Maupin will never abandon these characters and will continue their stories into many more volumes.more
I have taken some time to think about this, as I do not wantmy review to contain a "spoiler". I will do the best that I can. This is mainly a story about Mary Ann, one of the characters in the beloved Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. It was in 1976that the first book of this series was released. That is when we first metMary Ann. We also met Michael Tolliver, the main character of the book thatprecedes this one. Anna Madrigal, a flamboyant landlady if a rather spectacular set of flats in San Francisco was introduced in that first book. She, along with Mona, Michael, Brian Mary Ann and others became a sort of family. The series carries us along and shows us what is happening in the lives of the people who first came together at 28 Barbary Lane. I think that thisbook will be most enjoyed by those who are familiar with Mary Ann from herdays on Barbary Lane. In my opinion, this book falls just a little bit short when compared to the books written around the full cast of Barbary Lane character. Even though you will findmany of them here, it isn't quite the same. I loved the full, rich characters and still do when they are presented here. I feel that the effort made to focus on a single charactertakes a little something away from the ensemble that we have come to know and love. Do I think this is a worthy read? Absolutely! Is it as good as the first six books of this series. Not quite. Nor was Michael Tolliver Lives, but it too is a rich and worthyread. If you have not read any of the other books in this series, do yourself a favor and beginat the beginning. You will find characters that you will think of as friends. You willbe richer for having known them and you will return to them again and again. I know I have.more
Oh I was so happy to hear a new Armistead Maupin book was coming out and that it continued the Tales of the City series I have loved and read and re-read... I pre-ordered it and it was delivered with a colourful cover which confirmed that San Francisco is the best city in the world... Anyway. The book is set 20 years after Mary Ann has left the town to pursue fame on the east coast and finds her returning to SF with a heavy heart and in need of good friends. She's not a particularly likeable person now but eventually relaxes (like she did when she first came to SF) and builds up some of the relationships she has let drift since she left.Like the other books, there are challenging events which are narrated well - hinting at the awfulness but managing to cover them with a light touch - and we get to meet some new characters along the way. It all ties up, coincidences are not so coincidental but you are left with a feeling of happy contentment and wishing for yet another book in the series. I couldn't really picture Mary-Ann, Michael and Anna as in their middle and old ages, despite references to their hair colour, but maybe that's because I am just too familiar with their young selves in previous books. But anyway, a highly recommended read, especially if you have enjoyed Maupin's other work.more
Maupin has done a good job re-starting the Tales of the City series especially after a lengthy hiatus. It looks as if he is going to continue it beyond this book, given the number of unresolved issues in this novel, e.g. Jake's transition. I'm looking forward to the next one.It's not necessary to have read the previous books in the series (although it helps piece the stories together) but they are good reading too.more
Revisiting old friends is one of life’s great pleasures. This has certainly been no exception. I anticipated this reading from moment I became aware of the book and was not disappointed. I find Maupin’s style easy to read which makes getting lost in the lives of these characters a pleasant indulgence. If you follow Tales of the City you will find a lot of little familiar references. It was interesting to reflect on the journey, from discos, poppers and sex in the 70s, to Facebook, blogging and, well, sex in the new millennium. A great joy.more
It was sheer pleasure reading about all of these wonderful characters again. As I turned the last page, I wanted more. I hope there will be more. I hope these TALES of the CITY novels will go on forever. Mary Ann, Mouse and Anna Madrigal all resonate as real people to me, from the first time I was introduced. These are much more then just characters in a book, at least to me anyway. They are old friends. And I want to spend more time with them.more
I liked this book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as its predecessor, Michael Tolliver Lives. This story was much darker and seemed to have an underlying message that you shouldn't trust the people around you. It did make me like Mary Ann much more; the narrative really humanized her.more
One of the best things is to sit down with a book by Armistead Maupin, and crack the cover to peak inside for the first time. It is like coming home and opening the door and finding all of my closest friends waiting there with open arms. No matter what he writes about, it is sure to be filled with real people. Bazar maybe, but real none the less. Mary Ann in Autumn does not disappoint. Old characters who we have loved from book to book returning, new ones cropping up where you least expect them. Welcome home Armistead Maupin!!! Thank you for another rich, lyrical, filled with jeweled elephants, book to add to a wonderful collection of novels filled with old friends. Keep them coming- Please!more
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