Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Building on the success of 2007's "New York Times" bestseller "Michael Tolliver Lives," Maupin presents a new addition to the Tales of the City series that brings readers up to date on a beloved character: the woman who started it all, Mary Ann Singleton.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.
I have been a fan of Armistead Maupin's since the 90's, when I first saw the Tales of the City mini-series. It was so well done, and the characters so well developed, that I watched most of it in one sitting. The series is a bit dishy and trashy at times, but that's what makes it so much fun. I'll be honest and say I haven't read all of his books, but the good thing is? You don't need to. If you're familiar with Mrs. Madrigal, Mouse, Mary Anne and the rest of the original players, you'll love this book, but in my opinion, Mary Anne in Autumn is written in such a way that even someone that's not familiar with the series will still enjoy it.
It was interesting meeting these characters again so many years after the original series. Mary Anne returns to San Francisco when she finds her life in turmoil, and she finds herself living in Mouse's cottage in his back garden. Mary Anne is the main character, but we also see the story from her adopted daughter's prospective, along with Mouse's partner Ben, and Jake, a young transgendered man who is staying with Mrs. Madrigal. All of their stories merge at the conclusion of the book, and that was my only real disappointment with the book in general. I don't know how to explain it, but I guess the best thing to say is that elements of the ending felt a bit unrealistic to me.
Despite my slight issues with the ending, Mary Anne in Autumn was such a delight. I loved connecting with some of the gang from 28 Barbary Lane, and hope this won't be the last book with these beloved characters.