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Showing 1-10 of 445 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 542 reviews
on February 25, 2015
The first time I read it, I was angry. Without giving away any spoilers, I was angry because it didn't end the way I was SURE it was going to end - with all the loose ends neatly tied up in a bright red shiny bow. Just like all the other books in the series were - especially the early ones.

So I finished it, and deleted it from my Kindle, and growled and cussed under my breath (and sometimes over it) about how Armistead had "lost it" and "ruined the series" and all the other comments you can see from the one-star reviews - I agreed with all of them.

Then - the past week or so - I was feeling really melancholy. For some reason, "life" was just hitting me hard, and I found myself thinking about Anna Madrigal, and how she would respond to some of the problems I was having.

And I put the book back on my Kindle, and started reading it again.

And when I got to the end ... I wept. Not from sadness (though that's there too), but from joy, and gratitude. To Anna, and to Armistead Maupin, for giving me a book - and a way of seeing things - that was completely different from my expectations - and yet which had it all. Joy, and pathos, and humor and love.

It's all there. THEY are all there - all the characters you remember and love from Barbary Lane and vicinity. They're there - and this book contains them all, and more.

And if this review sounds a bit incoherent, well ... it's just because I know now what I need to do, to break free from this melancholy.

I need to do what Anna did. Look back ... and then look forward.
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on March 10, 2014
What started out as a series in the San Francisco Chronicle, turned into a national favorite, became two television mini-series and a musical is now considered complete. Armistead Maupin's novels have become more reflective as he and they matured, mostly in part due to living through and surviving the AIDS crisis. In a way this novel is saying farewell to the last of the old San Francisco that the Internet chased away. However hope exists for the next generation to experience their own growth in ways only the City by the Bay can ever provide.

The focus is on Jake, a FTM transgender gardener and Shawna, Brian and Mary Ann's adopted daughter as they struggle with the next phase of their lives. Counterpoint is provided in a flashback to the early days of Anna Madrigral as the son of a whorehouse madam. We learn about why Anna came to San Francisco. In addition Michael and Brian struggle in their relationships - Michael's marriage to a younger man and Brian's newest bride. All,the characters struggle to find their place amongst the current SF backdrop and during a trip to Burning Man.

Armistead writes in touching language and as always you feel the characters and their identity struggles as they love and learn. There isn't any grand farewell to SF, but the loss is still there. Armistead wonders as many do what is to become of his beloved city. It should be noted he moved to New Mexico recently.
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on May 4, 2015
Whoops! Thought there were only 7 books in this series. Yea, this was a nice graceful way of saying goodbye. It all started with Mrs. Madrigal so it makes sense it'd have to close with her too. Maupin shows the changing attitude of the city, the changing laws and such. Things are no longer the free for all they used to be. Everyone is aging. But most are finally finding themselves, finally accepting who they are and loving it. Mrs. M is at the end of her days but she's surrounded with people who truly care about her (an enviable situation). And most of her former tenants show up too. They are a family. And no matter what each has gone through and what bad things each may have done, because Mrs. M saw something special in them originally, you find they come to be the good souls Mrs. M saw in them. This is a lullabye.
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on January 21, 2014
I wish I had not read other reviews first, to be sure my opinion is all me. Oh well. Live and learn.

I was happy to see old friends, but think new readers should definitely start with the first book. Maybe it's just me, but my old friends didn't seem quite themselves at times, or a bit like a cardboard cutout of themselves. Not as much telling detail as in previous books, or something?

I dunno - I'm a reader, not a literary analyst. And I've only read it once so far, so I could be way off. But I must say I have the desire right now to reread the first six rather than this one. Although I read this one in one sitting......!

I was very interested to learn about Andy, and I definitely enjoyed meeting Margaret. Mother Mucca was another character who didn't seem quite herself to me, but of course she would have changed after Andy left.

The last few chapters seemed kind of rushed and contrived to me (although the "contrived" part is not necessarily a complaint - the first six books certainly had their share of coinkydinks), but I was sure happy with the outcome.

One thing I've always appreciated about Maupin is the way he shares his experiences with us. I was interested to learn about Burning Man.

I also enjoyed the occasional references to earlier books, as a reward for having read them. I found one inconsistency with previous books, but I've forgotten what it was, so I guess I'll be re-reading this book soon for my own curiosity.

Random observation: This book nails the current economic situation at page 104 location 1536, per my Kindle. Sadly.
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on August 31, 2017
I admit I am an addict. I have read the entire series of Tales of the City and all the sequels, and watched the series several times (who better than Olympia to bring Anna Madrigal to the screen). The Days of Anna Madrigal filled in a lot of background and history and is filled with the wonderful touch of life that TotC brought. A must read for fans!
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on February 25, 2014
No review of this book should reveal too much about the plot apart from then fact that we get to revisit our old friends, find out more about Mrs. Madrigal, and go on one, last journey into the world that so many of us wish we could live in.
This is written in true Maupin style, with humor, sadness, and impossible plot contrivances that would lead to a one star review for any other book, but in his world, just seem to work perfectly.
I laughed, I cried (and books don't normally make me cry), and I don't think that this series could have ended on a different note. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Armistead for the most wonderful series of books ever written. If you ever read these reviews, you sir are responsible for me moving to San Francisco and spending some of the happiest years of my life there.
Now, maybe you could write just ONE more ..... :-)
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on February 20, 2014
I started reading this series last year and it's a staggering piece of work. These later three books are even deeper and richer than the first six (and that's nothing against the earlier books, I hasten to add). I don't know what I can say about this one without spoiling it, so I'll make two points:
1) Don't bother if you haven't read the previous eight or you won't understand what's going on.
2) Read all nine of these novels. I can guarantee that once you're hooked, you'll fly through them and have an exceptional reading experience.

There's so much to love and admire in "Tales of The City". It's the whole package. If this is the end of the series, it's a fitting one, but as a fan I'd love one more. Brian is the only one of the original characters whose story doesn't quite feel complete. Enjoy!
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on June 18, 2014
Once upon a time there was a magical city called San Fransisco. This was before the monsters and space aliens and super villains all rotated through for their free shot at the Golden Gate Bridge.
This San Fransisco was a city of love, friendly casual drugs, sex as exercise or as tenderness, and infinite tolerance for all of the strange, mostly nonviolent variations found in humans. Armistead Maupin was the author of this place and in a series of books, originally written as a newspaper column we came into a lotus eater's entrancement. The still quiet center of this mythical place was a boarding house and more particularly its landlady: Anna Madrigal.

Using a combination of humor, clever plotting and a sincere desire to share with the reader the character of interesting and likable people, I among millions of others found ourselves wishing there was this place and these people. As Maupin added to his Tales of the City books he would add in some of the darker realities, always few blocks from Ms Madrigal's. There was cancer, and religious villainy; un-happy love, creepy commercialism and child abuse. Through it all Anna Madrigal, sometime with the help of her home grown strains of Marihuana was the hip, thoughtful den mother, friend, confidant adult we all wish we had to help us once we were too old to depend on our real parents.

And so the original Tales of the City ran through 6 titles, each exploring and exhausting the variations on life that always seemed about right for his characters. After a hiatus of several years, Maupin returned to the survivors of his Barbary Lane stories to tell us something about how these character will resolve their last issues.

I have had some reservations about these books. Mary Ann in Autumn and Michael Tolliver Lives seemed somewhere between vindictive and mean. Good reading but flavored with a need to strike out at the sexually straight community in general and the previous generation in particular.

Ok Sex. For the few people who do not know Armistead Maupin is openly gay. He grew up in a time when homosexuality was thought to be a disease. He survived the worst of the AIDS deaths and the murder of friend (not lover) and community leader Harvey Milk. Maupin's real San Francisco was almost as mythical as his mythical world, but Maupin only draws form real life. Sexual identity and self-awareness of sexuality are perhaps the most serious theme though out what are now nine books.
If these words worry or scare you, you had best read other books.
Anna Madrigal was born male, and is by book 9 one of the oldest surviving trans-sexual. Among the other characters are homosexual married couples, a vigorously active bi sexual, A transsexual survivor of the Iraqi War, an over-weight, retired beauty queen and a steady flow of people whose preference in partners pretty much exhaust the choices available.
If the reader insists on declaring heterosexual the only right choice, Anna was the child to a whorehouse madam; reminding us that there is little moral high ground to be owned to one whose only claim to such is a more usual preference for bed mates.

If you are still fixated on sexual mores, Maupin will remind you that there are other weightier matters in human existence, disease, death, and perhaps worst of all, the prospect of living out old age without love.

For all this discussion of heavy philosophic and political topics, The Days of Anna Madrigal is not a heavy read. It is Maupin's skill that allows us to confront our own attitudes or to stay in the story. In fact this book is to assure us that Anna will not pass from literary life without love or with the burdens of her past.

The book will move between the various surviving members of Anna's tenants, reminding us of how much she had improved their lives. The story line will alternately tell her complete back story; a confession made in detail and at length to the reader and introduces us to a new mythological place, the annual Burning Man Festival.

We are advised that the secret to enjoying Burning Man is to "let it go", "let it happen" and to "roll in the dust". Anna has lived her life that way. Maupin will give us a way to apply the Secret of the Festival , to the festival that is , or could be our lives.
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on July 24, 2016
It's difficult to write much about this story without possibly 'spoiling'. I say story because I think Mr. Maupin is one of the very best story tellers from now or ever there has been. I wonder what it would be like for someone to pick up this book first without beginning with "Tales of the City". Well, it would certainly send you back to the beginning of the series to get to know this "logical family". I'm guessing most readers of this book already know what I'm talking about. "The Days..." are brilliantly brought to a close? The question mark isn't about the brilliant part. And it's not just that I always want more. Mr. Maupin always makes me want more of this epic story, and of course Anna Madrigal. I'm just not sure that the ending of this book is really the end of her. You have to read it and decide for yourself.
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on March 3, 2017
The main characters in this anthology are so lovable and relatable that anything new about them is a welcome addition, this book included. Anna Madrigal is a shadow of her younger self now, but she is still the lunch-pin of the group of people who love her. This book is mostly about them.
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