Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City Series #8)

( 60 )

Overview

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 gay 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 57, she licks her wounds ...

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Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City Series #8)

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Overview

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 gay 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 57, 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 speckled past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Magazine
"You don’t review a new installment of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series—you rejoice in it...[These] are not fictional characters but dear friends and soul mates, as permanently a part of this town’s heart as cable cars, the Folsom Street Fair, and Maupin himself..."
New York Times
“Mary Ann slips right back into the warm, bantering world of [Armistead Maupin’s] earlier books. All his kale-eating, sustainable-gardening, Snuggie-joke-making characters are familiar, even if this is your first go-around with them.”
Los Angeles Times
“Maupin’s quirky yet engaging characters still speak to him.”
USA Today
“Maupin cranks up the hijinks and sharpens the social commentary. . . . Fasten your seatbelts, Tales fans. It’s going to be a bumpy, but entertaining ride.”
Chicago Sun-Times
Mary Ann in Autumn is a return to form...The resulting book is a heart-warming and life-affirming tale that should please fans as well as those new to the series...[Maupin’s books] continually remind us that we are all connected.”
Booklist
“The graying of the Tales of the City cast won’t sadden readers. This affectionate novel, with its carefully unfolding story line (and perfect ending), will work its warmth and charm.”
New York Times Book Review
“Tenderhearted and frolicsome...A tale of long-lost friends and unrealized dreams, of fear and regret, of penance and redemption—and of the unshakable sense that this world we love, this life we live, this drama in which we all play a part, does indeed go by much too fast.”
Seattle Times
“[A] resilient and enjoyable series. . .”
The Seattle Gay News
“A must read for fans of the [Tales of the City] books and Armistead Maupin.”
The Oregonian (Portland)
“Fans of the [Tales of the Cities series] will be happy to climb back into the hilly city’s stories. Those new to the series will also find it easy to slip into the pace of easy charm and irreverent characters in these compassionate, unordinary lives.”
Modern Tonic
“Even more satisfying than Michael Tolliver Lives, [Mary Ann in Autumn] is a juicy, twisty tale that’s of the moment (Facebook plays an essential role) as it takes us back to the heady days of our beloved San Francisco fantasyland.”
San Francisco magazine
“You don’t review a new installment of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series—you rejoice in it...[These] are not fictional characters but dear friends and soul mates, as permanently a part of this town’s heart as cable cars, the Folsom Street Fair, and Maupin himself...”
The SunBreak.com
“No other work of fiction featuring major gay characters has been. . .so influential, as the Tales of the City books.”
The Tucson Citizen
“This sassy, irreverent book explores the boundaries of the human experience which was the hallmark of Maupin’s earlier work. The main point is that Maupin has lost none of his magic and his characters remain an indelible part of our pop culture.”
Joseph Salvatore
…tenderhearted and frolicsome…Maupin has built Mary Ann a solid narrative, has given her not only a story, but an entire life. Mary Ann's is a tale of long-lost friends and unrealized dreams, of fear and regret, of penance and redemption—and of the unshakable sense that this world we love, this life we live, this drama in which we all play a part, does indeed go by much too fast.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In the sure-to-please follow-up to Michael Tolliver Lives, the bestselling Tales of the City reboot, it's been 20 years since series anchor Mary Ann Singleton left her family and headed to New York. Maupin's San Francisco is comforting in its familiarity, and the gang is (mostly) all here, older, wiser, and settled in: Michael "Mouse" Tolliver is married to Ben; Shawna, Mary Ann's estranged daughter, is a popular sex blogger who is dating Otto, an enigmatic professional clown; and grand dame Anna Madrigal, once landlady to Michael and Mary Ann, is still kicking in her late 80s. Into this milieu returns Mary Ann, who ditched her husband and the young Shawna for a career in television. Now, nearing 60, she's back with news she can't bear to tell anyone but Michael. From the haven of his tiny garden cottage, Mary Ann regroups and confronts some uncomfortable chapters in her past. As ever, Maupin's edgy wit energizes the layered story lines. His keen eye for irony and human foible is balanced by an innate compassion in this examination of the life of a woman of a certain age. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Revisiting the characters from Maupin's (www.armisteadmaupin.com) beloved "Tales of the City" series is like reconnecting with old friends. Mary Ann Singleton and her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, are grayer in this eighth installment—following Michael Tolliver Lives (2007), also available from HarperAudio—as she returns to San Francisco after 20 years, and, faced with troubles old and new, is forced to reevaluate her life. The convergence of generations enables the novel to work in believable ways and helps to wrap up some loose ends. Created more than three decades ago, this series still resonates with humor, whether dealing with the practicalities of everyday life or the realities of aging and health-related issues. Maupin himself reads, and reads well, leaving listeners yearning for even more. Recommended as a necessary acquisition for libraries collecting the series. ["A must for fans, but new readers [, too,] will find it an accessible entry point," read the review of the Harper hc, LJ 10/1/10; a stage musical inspired by the series will premiere in San Francisco in May 2011.—Ed.]—Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo
Kirkus Reviews

Maupin continues his popular Tales of the City saga (Michael Tolliver Lives, 2007, etc.) with the return to San Francisco of Mary Ann Singleton after 20 years in the cushy Connecticut suburbs.

She's caught her retired-CEO husband cheating via Skype, and she's been diagnosed with uterine cancer, so Mary Ann heads west to take refuge with Michael, her former housemate from 28 Barbary Lane, and his much-younger husband Ben. Lesbian buddies DeDe and D'or find Mary Ann a female oncologist, and while she's waiting for surgery, Ben gets her onto Facebook so she can reconnect with people who knew her as a local TV celebrity back in the '80s. Meanwhile, Shawna, the adopted daughter Mary Ann left with ex-husband Brian when she moved east, is looking to expand her popular Grrrl on the Loose blog into subjects beyond sex. Jake, Michael's transgendered partner in his gardening firm, doesn't have the money to complete the transition from female to male because business is lousy following the economic meltdown, though San Francisco's bohemians are hopeful following Obama's election. And Cliff, Ben's casual acquaintance from the dog park, is brooding over something Ben would rather not know about, since the elderly drunk clearly has serious personal problems. Maupin's chronicle of interconnected lives and tangled personal relations is as engaging and warmhearted as ever, but he's more careless than usual with structure. Shawna fixates on a drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless woman who proves to be linked to the Barbary Lane past via an outrageous plot twist that also connects a creepy Facebook "friend" of Mary Ann's with a pedophile she once knew—who turns up toting a gun. Maupin should have trusted his fallible, lovable characters to sustain our interest; resorting to such a luridly melodramatic device detracts from the pleasure of reacquainting ourselves with them.

Agreeable entertainment until the ridiculous denouement.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062002488
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/2/2010
  • Series: Tales of the City Series , #8
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 382
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Armistead  Maupin

Armistead Maupin is the author of Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener, and the bestselling Tales of the City series. A new musical based on the first two Tales novels premiered at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in the summer of 2011. He lives in Santa Fe with his husband, the photographer Christopher Turner.

Biography

In 1976, a groundbreaking serial called Tales of the City first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. This masterfully rendered portrait of the interweaving relationships of the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco's Russian Hill was both an instant smash and a source of controversy as it paid particular mind to the city's strong gay community. In spite of naysayers such as anti-gay crusader and orange juice hawker Anita Bryant, Tales of the City attracted a legion of devoted followers. Readers of the Chronicle were known to Xerox copies of the stories and pass them on to friends. Tales of the City themed scavenger hunts were held throughout San Francisco. A local pub even named a drink after one of the serial's protagonists, Anna Madrigal. In 1978, a collection of the stories were gathered together into an extremely popular volume. Most important of all, Tales of the City became a watershed work of gay literature. Who would have thought that its openly gay author emerged from a highly conservative family in North Carolina, did several tours in the U.S. Navy, or once worked for uber-right wing future senator Jesse Helms? Well, Armistead Maupin is nothing if not an individual as complex and refreshing as one of his characters.

While Maupin's upbringing could have primed him to lean as far right as Helms, his interests lay elsewhere. Following his stint in the Navy, in which he served during the Vietnam War, Maupin moved to California. Having settled in San Francisco, he became deeply fascinated by the complexity of its community. His Tales of the City reflects that complexity. The characters are finely detailed and diverse. At 28 Barbary Lane, eccentrics live alongside naïve Midwesterners, romantics alongside skirt-chasers. Maupin infused his stories with ample amounts of humor and humanity, as well as a stiff dose of social commentary. Through six series of Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin lead his characters and his audience from the sexually free ‘70s through the disillusioning ‘80s when conservatism became de rigeur and AIDS reared its hideous head.

Tales of the City went on to spawn a critically acclaimed and successful string of novels, including More Tales of the City, Babycakes, and Significant Others. Maupin finally put his series to rest in 1989 with Sure of You, the only Tales book that had not been serialized. Although the literary life of Tales of the City had come to an end, it picked up a new life -- and many new fans -- when it was adapted into three popular television miniseries, first for PBS and then for the Showtime cable network. Meanwhile, Armistead Maupin was branching out beyond Barbary Lane with his first non-series novel. Maybe the Moon, a biting, moving, and wholly entertaining satire of the movie industry, proved that the writer had the chops to expand his repertoire without losing his edge. The fable-like tale of Cadence Roth -- actress and Guinness Book record holder for the title of the shortest woman alive -- won applause from Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Herald, Mademoiselle, and a score of others.

Following an 8-year hiatus, Maupin finally published his second non-series novel in 2000. The Night Listener, a riveting thriller about the relationship between a radio-show host and an ailing 13-year old writer, found Maupin exploring fascinating new avenues. Once again, the critics stood up for an ovation. Now, movie audiences will be getting the chance to do so, as well, as a big screen adaptation of The Night Listener starring Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin and scripted by Maupin is currently hitting theaters.

Although Maupin has more than proved that there is life after Tales of the City, his fans still want to know if he will be revisiting the folks at Barbary Lane sometime in the future. Well, all Maupin had to say on that subject on literarybent.com is, "I never say never about anything, so it's not inconceivable that at some point in the future I may get really desperate and write a stocking stuffer called Christmas at Barbary Lane. But don't bank on it."

Good To Know

When it comes to Armistead Maupin's name, don't believe the rumors. Although it has long been speculated that his moniker is an invention of the author (after all, "Armistead Maupin" is an anagram for "is a man I dreamt up"), the writer insists that Armistead Maupin is, indeed, his given name.

In 1995, Maupin lent his voice to The Celluloid Closet, an HBO documentary about the history of the depictions of gays and lesbians in American cinema.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 13, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 60 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Armistead Maupin provides his trademark wit that affirms why this sagacious saga has had a TV miniseries based on it

    Two decades have passed since Mary Ann left her husband and daughter in San Francisco for a TV career in New York. Meanwhile her ex-spouse Michael "Mouse" and Ben are married. Mary Ann's estranged daughter sex blogger Shawna is seeing professional clown Otto. Mary Ann\'s former landlady in San Francisco, octogenarian Anna Madrigal is still running wild.

    As Mary Ann nears her sexagenarian birthday, she returns to the West Coast to inform Michael about some news she cannot share with anyone else. Staying at the cottage shared by Mouse and Ben, she finds solace in the garden as she relooks the errors of her life.

    The latest Tales of the City (see Michael Tolliver Lives) is a terrific intelligent return to the Bay area twenty years after Mary Ann left and everyone moved on with their lives. The ensemble cast is full dimensional as Mary Ann in Autumn of her life is still seeking her muse, but with experience tries to rectify the errors of her youth whether any of those she hurt want her to or not. Like all of the Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin provides his trademark wit that affirms why this sagacious saga has had a TV miniseries based on it.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Another winner from Maupin

    I recently put down a book that felt like walking through thick mud. After too many pages, struggling to hang on, I finally gave up. At that point I returned to an old reliable - Armistead Maupin and felt relieved there were two books I haven't read.
    A wonderful thing happened. I sailed through the first chapter and felt like I was back home in Tales of the City. Maupin's prose swing from the present, to the past and back to the present again on a joyful ride.
    He has done something all writers should do, bring their characters to life on the page by being distinct, real and likeable. Flaws included. Wanting us to hunger for where they are and what they are doing today on a journey we enjoyed when we first met them.
    More please -

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Brilliant story. Loved every chapter of it!

    As a big fan of Tales of the city, I enjoyed this one a great deal. But it seems this is the end of the series, hopefully not. I could not put this book down, it was always making me want to read one more chapter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    Great read

    This book harkins back to the Tales of the City stories; it is like seeing a long, lost friend. This is Maupin's best novel in several years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    A good read for those missing the series

    This was a good read / not a great one. It was fun to catch up with the characters from Maupin's previous Tales of the City books. The characters are richly written and it's like going back home again.
    That said, I don't think it had the qurkiness of the other books in the series.

    I would defintely suggest reading this book if you've read the series. A new reader might be a little lost.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Not Nearly As Dreary as the Title Character

    Confession: I have never liked Mary Ann Singleton. She always seemed snooty, self-absorbed, and generally unlikable. That said, the newest installment in the Tales of the City has blown me away. Maupin has moved back from his single point of view chapter style in Michael Tolliver Lives. Although we are treated to the thoughts of several characters, the chapters are longer than in the previous Tales releases, which allows Maupin to go in much greater depth into the characters thoughts and motivations.

    The plot of the story holds the reader's attention, with the expected Maupinian plot twist for the conclusion of the story. A great read.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    Just relax

    Great read, true to the series, hope there will be more

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    The Boys Are Back in Town!

    If you've read and enjoyed the Tales of the City series, this is a must read. Michael, Mary Ann, Mrs. Madrigal, and Shawna are back in a story that has all the trademark Maupin plot twists along with a couple of genuine "Yikes!" moments. My only quibble (and it's a small one) is that I think Michael deserves to find someone who is for him and him only. But maybe that will happen in a future book, who knows? Also, it made me very happy that Mr. Maupin did not forget little Blossom at the end of the story. Bravo, and more please!

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great return to the Barbary Lane family

    In typical Maupin fashion it's tough to put down. Out most disappointing friend returns and reminds us that true connections are never severed. It's a must read for anyone who liked the series. What I like most is that it makes me think that this series will never end. Like the 80s I can't wait for what's next.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't Put It Down

    This is only the second book that I've read in this series, and I couldn't stop reading it! I actually haven't been reading the series in order either, but I'm not getting lost reading that way. I can't wait for the rest of the series to be offered for the Nook!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    THESE TALES SIMPLY GET BETTER WITH AGE

    Although it was the 1970s when Armistead Maupin first introduced readers to the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, it grew from that newspaper serial to six bestselling novels and an award winning TV series. Thanks to the skills of Maupin the story of those people is as engaging today as it was then. What a pleasure it is to be reintroduced to Mary Ann Singleton in the insightful, compassionate MARY ANN IN AUTUMN, A Tales of the City novel.

    We read Mary Ann's thoughts, "The past doesn't catch up with us.....It escapes from us. At the landing she stopped to catch her breath." Yes, catch her breath for Mary Ann is now 57-years-old. It's been some 20 years since she left her husband and daughter for New York and what she hoped would be a stellar career on television. But now luck, mostly bad, has sent her back to the place of her youth - San Francisco. There she finds refuge in the arms and cottage of her longtime friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver.

    She ponders, assess her mistakes and eventually seems to be recouping some of her energy, appears to be almost her old self when she finds that she cannot escape her past.

    Other characters who emerge and engage in this witty/touching story are Mary Ann's estranged daughter, Shawna, who is now a sex blogger; Michael's transgendered gardening assistant, Jake Greenleaf; the highly social DeDe Halcyon-Wilson; and the incredible Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann's former landlady who is now in her eighties and as irascible as ever.

    Many thanks to Maupin for one more visit with the beloved characters only he could have created.

    Highly recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

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  • Posted November 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What's next?

    Reading this right after reading Michael Tolliver lives has me totally hoping for installment upon installment to follow having initially been skeptic about returning to these characters after so much time had gone by.

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