Saturday, November 13, 2010

book review: maryann in autumn

I confess...this is another book review and, after reading other folks' thoughts on the book, I realize I am again out of the target market. But, again, I still enjoyed the read (and, again, this was a book sent to me by the lovely folks at Harper with my agreement to review it but no limitation on content or nature of the review). Mary Ann in Autumn is a recent release from Armistead Maupin and is part of a long-running Tales of the City series. I think I may have read one of the books 15 years ago or so, but I'm not a follower....clearly, the series has MANY fans from my perusal of other reviews.

The book is built upon the return of Mary Ann to San Francisco from twenty or thirty years away on the East Coast. It follow her plotline as she reunites with friends, deals with crises in both her health and her marriage, and evaluates where she is in her life. Other characters include her estranged daughter who writes a sex blog and is drawn in by a homeless woman and a transsexual man who becomes acquainted with someone very much outside his world. From other reviews, it is clear that most of these characters are "known" to followers of the series but you can certainly catch on and enjoy the book without that familiarity. The book can stand alone (though I think it might contain "spoilers" if someone read this and then went back to the prior books) and does so as an enjoyable tale of deep friendship and identity (that's my theme lately, I suppose). It is an easy read with inviting prose and well-constructed characters.

I do think you'd enjoy the book more if the characters were old friends, but I still enjoyed the visit. I gave it 4 of 5 methodical mind wants to say 3.75 stars but I think the last 1/4 would be an easy give for fans of the series. For those unfamiliar with the Tales, it's still enjoyable. It clearly operates from a very open-minded position on sexuality and gender...that fits with my views but it might not be for everyone so I do want to include that proviso.

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