Mary Ann in Autumn and The Days of Anna Madrigal

Over the years I’ve read the first six novels in the Tales of the City series three times. Number 7, Michael Tolliver Lives arrived a long time after its predecessors and was a bit of a disappointment. I found it pleasant, but not particularly memorable. Mary Ann in Autumn is Number 8 in the series and has everything I found so wonderful about the first six: a brisk, light pace; off-beat humour; outrageous coincidences; and a loving – if not always forgiving – focus on people living outside the mainstream. Maupin likes these people, and he knows how to make you like them, too. Even Mary Ann. (If you’ve read the other books, you’ll know what an achievement that is.)

The Days of Anna Madrigal is Number 9, and the last. And while it – for me, at least – takes a little while to get going, once it does it’s as good as anything AM has written. And the end, the last two pages, is just absolutely wonderful. A totally inspired celebration of everything all the stories were about. A fabulous note to go out on.

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