13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book that makes you hate Mary Ann Singleton
Okay...I adored Mary Ann. I adored her for years. When I moved to NYC, I was given all six Tales of the City books as a present. I would read them and immediately recognize myself as sort of the little lost lamb. For five books, I loved her. Now I hate her. How could you make me hate her?!?!? But I am so glad you did...made me take another look at her and what she is...
Published on August 29, 2001 by Brian Devinney
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Beginnings
The Tales of The City series comes to a bittersweet, and for some devoted fans of the series, startling conclusion with Sure Of You. Maupin does have his characters and the readers who have grown to love them face some hard truths. Dramatic changes occur and old bonds are broken, but after all the upheaval, new possibilities emerge and what had seemed to be a sobering...
Published on October 20, 2007 by C. Brown
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book that makes you hate Mary Ann Singleton,
Okay...I adored Mary Ann. I adored her for years. When I moved to NYC, I was given all six Tales of the City books as a present. I would read them and immediately recognize myself as sort of the little lost lamb. For five books, I loved her. Now I hate her. How could you make me hate her?!?!? But I am so glad you did...made me take another look at her and what she is supposed to be made of. However, I think the most enduring person is Anna Madrigal. Finally finding love in Greece (she predicted it in an earlier book) and Mona coming back after being gone for so long. Sigh....it's not the best of the bunch but the door is left opento pick up for a seventh installment...just to see if Mary Ann gets her comeuppance.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a fairytale ending just painfully realistic,
The residents of 28 Barbary Lane first came into my life in 1991 and they've remained firmly amongst my favourite literary characters of all time. Having read several reviews of "Sure of You" expressing feelings of disappointment and betrayal, I felt I had to chip in with my "twopenny" worth.
The evolution of all of the main characters (guided by Maupin's prodigiously talented hand) is achingly believable and, I for one think that, as an epilogue, "Sure of You" hits exactly the right notes. The many Mary Ann fans out there who felt particularly let down are maybe in need of a reality check. Look at what has happened to these people in the 12 tumultuous years from 1976 to 1988. How can we realistically expect the warm, cosy, fun-loving and uncomplicated world of the "20somethings" in "Tales" to be untouched by the passage of time as they approach middle age. Mary Ann, in spite of flashes of good, was always an essentially selfish character (very early on she dropped the flaky, but undeniably good-hearted, Connie like a hot potato once she had no more use for her and her apartment). She only really began to warm to Brian once she found out he was an ex-lawyer giving a very early indication that social standing meant a great deal to her. By book three she was well on her way up the greasy pole and woe be-tide anyone who crossed her. The lusty, heart on his sleeve, happy-go-lucky Brian seemed always pre-destined to be left behind in her wake. None of these observations are to her credit but nor do they make her a monster, just a believable human being of the "ambitious, go-getting type" - a type, incidentally, often highly prized by a Society where people who don't achieve materially seem to be routinely referred to as "losers." Mary Ann achieved fame and fortune and I should hazard a guess that those two things change people for the worse far more often than for the better.
I absolutely agree that the last installment made for uneasy reading, but to rate this excellently written book as a one star turkey just because you don't like the direction of the story and development of the characters seems a little absurd.
Well done Armistead Maupin for so effectively holding up a mirror to our collective faces. Let's not blame him if we don't like everything we see in it. In any case Michael, Mrs M and Brian are as likeable in the last book as they are in the first - Brian perhaps more so.
I only hope Michael Mouse made it (I suspect, however, that it was unlikely that he would). The Tales Anthology is not a fairy story with a happy ending (watch the Wizard of Oz if you want that). It's simply a brilliant series of books with some of the richest characters and best dialogue ever put into print.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving on,
This is a toughie. This is Maupin's most beautifully written entry in the "Tales" series (owing partly to the fact that it was not originally written as a serial), but it's also the most disappointing. To this day, I'm still a bit confused as to why Maupin made Mary Ann turn out the way she did. Over the years, the more people I've talked to, the more I realized I wasn't alone. Some said Mary Ann was never quite the character we perceived her to be from the start but if that's so, why did so many feel so let down by her? Maybe Maupin's ideas of her and the reader's perception never matched from Book 1. Perhaps things would be different had Maupin not had Mary Ann be the first character introduced. We see San Francisco through her eyes, and we identify with her. What's that say about us when she ends up cold and unfeeling?
Time hasn't helped the case for the book either. Once the miniseries came out and Laura Linney became THE Mary Ann, it's even harder to read this final book. In the end, the fact that this book's still has people talking 18 years after it's release shows how much we grew to love these characters. This book is full of sadness, but also hope. Michael has AIDS and San Francisco is a different place than it was only a decade earlier, but we get glimmers of the new activism that rose out of the AIDS crisis, and would eventually help fuel the "gay 90s."
I am glad that Maupin will have a new book out soon that, while not officially a Tales book with its multi-character stories, will feature some of the old gang; it's been much too long. "Sure of You" may have been the end of the series but it's a classy, sad, depressing, troubling, frustrating and great finale.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Ann Singleton - the heroine who betrayed Barbery Lane,
Mary Ann Singleton first saw San Francisco at 25, everyone fell in love with the midwest transplant, but then when fame and ambition made her betray those closest to her ... she ran to New York and away from it all. It was characteristic of the ultimate lesson of the 80's. While the Tales of the City characters galavanted around in adventure during the 1970's ... the 80's greed and ambition transformed TV star Mary Ann into a cruel yuppie. Ending the saga ... culiminating in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and Mary Ann abandoning all those who supported her throughout the years. Tales began and ended with Mary Ann ... and it was all just bittersweet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Beginnings,
The Tales of The City series comes to a bittersweet, and for some devoted fans of the series, startling conclusion with Sure Of You. Maupin does have his characters and the readers who have grown to love them face some hard truths. Dramatic changes occur and old bonds are broken, but after all the upheaval, new possibilities emerge and what had seemed to be a sobering conclusion transforms into a promising new beginning.
Some cynics have claimed this is the book that turns the likeable and ambitious character of Mary Ann Singleton into a driven and cold-hearted monster. These cynical readers are wrong and have missed the nuances of Maupin's story. Admittedly, Maupin is particularly kind in his portrayal of Mary Ann; however, he is not entirely unforgiving and we can sympathize to some degree with her choices and the desires that drive them. Mary Ann does make some decisions which deeply wound those she loves and her behavior is sometimes selfish; however, there is never callousness in her actions nor does she lack regret. Furthermore, the choices she makes are driven by a desire to change a life that has fallen into a dark and unhappy rut, which she believes she can only escape by taking a new direction she hopes will finally lead to true happiness for herself, and eventually for Brian. At the end of the novel, while nothing will be the same, new bonds have been forged, some old bonds have been renewed and strengthened, and where some bonds have been severed, there remains the promise of reconciliation between two old friends.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IS THIS THE END???,
After reading all of the comments on SURE OF YOU (TOTC, #6), I was a little reluctant to read it. I hadn't even finished reading BABYCAKES(TOTC, #4) yet, and I couldn't wait to get to the sixth and final book of the series, so I peaked at the reviews.
I know, bad move--I should have waited. Well, I finished books 4 and 5 and so, with a deep breath, plunged into book 6.
Needless to say, all of Maupin's engaging writing style is still there along with all the characters we TALES OF THE CITY fans have grown to love.
But, I have to disagree with other fans that say it wasn't a fairy tale ending. It was a fairy tale ending for each of the characters, according to their own stories, being that they got what they wanted...but it wasn't the fairy tale ending I wanted.
As far as Mary Anne becoming a hated character, I don't hate her. Was I ready for what was to come? No...but I understand it.
Perhaps this is what makes Maupin's TALES...series so endearing, because the stories are about people, life and change. And unfortunately people grow apart, life around us changes, and nothing stays the same.
I know this is the final TOTC book and even though MICHAEL TOLLIVER LIVES is coming out in June '07, Maupin says it won't be TOTC #7. Hopefully, he'll reconsider that or at least write a TOTC #7.
So, if you've read TOTC up to book 5, then you might as well read the last one. No, it won't be the ending you would want or even expect, but at least you'll get closure.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Letdown after the others,
By A Customer
I loved the other "Tales of City" books. They are funny, sweet, and addictive. This rating is not meant to discourage any readers who have begun the series, since I know you could not stop even if you wanted to. It is just a warning that there is more heartbreak than laughter ahead. It has to be expected in the transition from the care-free seventies to are more responsible decade.
4.0 out of 5 stars Happily Ever After Is Only in Fairy Tales,
This review is from: Sure of You (Tales of the City Series) (Paperback)
This is the sixth, and was for sometime, final book in the Tales of the City series. Our beloved friends are all older than the bright young things they were at the series beginning. Mary Ann is no longer the naive young girl escaping from her middle class midwest roots, she has clawed her way up the corporate ladder from secretary to afternoon movie lady to reporter to hosting her own talk show. She has found love, Brian has given up his tomcat ways of the first novels to settle down as her 'house husband' and chief caretaker of their daughter, Shawna (aka Puppy) and co-owner of Plant Parenthood with Michael. Michael, has tested positive for HIV but is responding well to the latest regime of drugs so he and his partner Thack have moved to Noe Valley to their own house, complete with dog (a legacy from one of the many friends lost to AIDS). Anna is still Queen of 28 Barbary Lane with a whole new crop of her 'children'. Hew own daughter, Mona, has settled in England, minding the family estate of her husband who has moved to San Francisco courtesy of the green card obtained by his marriage to an American. So now that all our friends have reached their goals for fame, fortune, family etc we will see them all living happily ever after, right? Well maybe not because that only happens in the other sort of fairy tale.
This novel has been criticized because of the disappointment many readers felt over the actions of one of the main characters. While it is a bit of a shock, it is a very realistic development. It is just one of those nasty surprises in life when someone you know so well does something that you were sure they would never do. Happily we do not have to wait twenty years to find out what happens next, as the seventh book in this series (despite Maupin's initial denials) MICHAEL TOLLIVER LIVES is readily available and will be joined by another installment in the fall.
3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing,
The sixth and (for a time) final novel of the Tales of the City series. Things have changed DRASTICALLY this time...and not for the better. Mary Ann Singleton has been turned into an obnoxious opportunistic b*tch. I loved her in the first five but here she's just horrible. She seriously is considering moving to NYC and leaving her husband AND kid behind! Brian (her hubby) is understandbly upset. Michael has been living with Thack (intoduced in book 5) happily for a few years. Thack has changed too. He was nice in the last book--this time around he's a loudmouthed jerk. I kept wondering why Michael put up with him. Mrs. Madrigal takes a trip to the Greek isles with her (his) daughter Mona.
This was supposed to be it for the seies and a LOT of people hated it. Mary Ann was completely different and out of character here and her change into a basically cruel woman bothered lots of people. Same with Thack Still if you can ignore both of those (and it IS hard) it's a good book. The story is tight, the dialogue witty and it is fun to read. But it's easily the least of the series. Maupin did write a serventh book years later (Michael Tolliver Lives) which was a little more satisfying.
5.0 out of 5 stars more please maupin,
By A Customer
An infuriating mix. After the high-jinks and high camp of the previous five books in the series, this is a pretty sombre way to finish off. There are betrayals and recriminations, accusations and tears, and the whole thing is underpinned by a subtext of rotting friendships which easily sours the tone of the preceeding books in the series. And gee, Armistead, what did Mary-Ann ever do to you? The sweet-natured perky Cleveland girl has metamophosed into an arch bitch who'll climb over corpses to get to centre stage. I'm not sure who he's based her on (the creature from Aliens, perhaps?), but she ain't pretty!
On the upside, there's Maupin's usual incredible talent shining through - the plotting is tighter than ever, the characters are as loveable as ever (see above for the exception), his dialogue is unmatched by any other writer, the politics are laser sharp, and there are certain scenes which quiver with such restrained anger and tension that the hairs on the neck stand on end. It may not be as much fun as before, but like the wonderful Anna Madrigal, Maupin has matured with grace and style - and that alone earns the book five stars.
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Sure of You (Tales of the City Series) by Armistead Maupin (Paperback - January 7, 1994)