Mary Ann In Autumn – Book Review

There should be something about this hillside, some lingering sense memory – the view of Alcatraz, say, or the foghorns or the mossy smell of the planks beneath her feet – that would lead her back to her lost wonderland. Everything around her was familiar but somehow foreign to her own experience, like a place she had seen in a movie but had never actually visited. She had climbed these weathered steps – what? – thousands of times before, but there wasn’t a hint of homecoming, nothing to take her back to where she used to be. The past doesn’t catch up with us, she thought. It escapes from us. – from the ARE of Mary Ann in Autumn, page 1 –

Armistead Maupin’s latest installation of the Tales of the City series brings back Mary Ann Singleton, one of the original characters in the early books. More than twenty years have passed since Mary Ann left San Francisco, abandoning friends to seek a television career in New York. But now her marriage is failing and she is facing a potentially fatal health crisis which drives her back to San Francisco and her good friend Michael Tolliver. Once there, Mary Ann reconnects with Anna Madrigal (her former landlady from Barbary Lane), DeDe Halcyon-Wilson, and Shawna (her estranged daughter)…and an old mystery resurfaces that could be more of a threat to her than her fragile health.

As in all of Maupin’s books, the characters are who drive the story and draw the reader in. Flawed, original and wholly likable, Maupin’s characters are a joy to spend time with. Maupin captures the essence of San Francisco with its old, quirky neighborhoods, narrow streets and interesting people; and he has some fun with plot, weaving individual stories together and causing the unexpected to happen. Even when coincidences seem to stretch reality, the characters are who rescue the story. This is not a serious read – Maupin’s wit oozes through the story line – and for readers looking for something that glides along the edges of a cozy mystery, this book will be certain to fit the bill.

Mary Ann in Autumn is the tenth book in the Tales of the City series, and for readers new to the books I would recommend reading the earlier installations before tackling this one. Although this novel could stand alone, having the background from the previous books would make it a more enjoyable read. Either way, readers who enjoy light, fun books with interesting characters will find this to be a delightful read. Maupin does not shy away from exploring alternate lifestyles, and this (along with all of the books in the series) would be a terrific read for Amanda’s GLBT Challenge.


*FTC Disclosure: This Advance Readers Edition was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

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    • Cass on November 28, 2010 at 10:36

    I’m a bit serious about reading books in a series in order, so I do have the first book in this series on hold at the library. I love books about community and friendships.

    This book qualifies for the Indie Lit Awards…perhaps you’d like to nominate it?

    • Melanie on November 28, 2010 at 12:04

    B&N offered Micheal Tolliver Lives free for the Nook. I just started it today and can tell I’m going to enjoy it. I’m on chapter 4 – should I stop reading and start with the first book?

    • Wendy on November 28, 2010 at 14:55

    Cass: I think you’ll really enjoy this series – it is so much fun. I love Maupin’s writing style. And thanks for the nudge to go over and nominate a book for the Indie’s award!

    Melanie: You don’t HAVE to read them in order…but I think they are best read that way because each book builds on the one before it…glad to hear you are enjoying the book 🙂

  1. I love the entire TotC series and have read them all multiple times. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one – I’ve put it on my Christmas wish list (in hardcover, yet!). But I’m a bit surprised Mrs. Madrigal is still around – she must be one heck of an old lady by now!

    • Wendy on November 28, 2010 at 17:59

    Oh Yah, Florinda – she is ancient in this book…but still as sassy as ever!! It is a wonderful series, isn’t it? I read most of the books when I first moved to San Francisco in 1989…and it was so great to have those books as I was getting to know the city myself! Brings back fond memories for me.

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