When an ordinary househusband and his ambitious wife decide to start a family, they discover there's more to making a baby then meets the eye. Help arrives in the form of a grieving gay neighbor, a visiting monarch, and the dashing young lieutenant who defects from her yacht. Bittersweet and profoundly affecting, Babycakes was the first work of fiction to acknowledge the arrival of AIDS.
©1984 The Chronicle Publishing Company (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
Don't you just love a great story well told?
See previous reviews for discussion of the characters. The big difference in this book is that the subject matter begins to get more serious as the author and our country began to come to grips with the crisis of AIDS. Since the series was originally published in a newspaper is was necessary to follow current events which makes it all that much more realistic. The other big difference in this audiobook is the male narrator which probably seemed appropriate since the series begins to revolve more around Michael and less around Mary Ann. Alan Cummings can be a bit hard to take at first since you are, by now, likely used to the gentler tones of Ms. McDorland or Ms. Nixon narrating. He's not THAT bad, it's just that he takes his voice acting a bit over the top to the point where his voice is grating for brief moments which is why I knocked a star off the performance. He lands solidly on the acting side of the narrator/actor balance but he gives us stereotypes. As the book goes I adjusted and he does excellent British accents which are necessary and appropriate to the story. Still, he gets four stars. Some will give worse but while the narrator may slightly diminish, he will by no means ruin your enjoyment of this book. (He's still a *lot* better than the alternative which was Maupin reading his own work.) Here Mary Ann struggles with trying to balance a career and pressures to be a parent. There isn't as much of a fantastic mystery at the heart of this fourth book as there were in the previous two. It is again recommended that you start with the original Tales of the City before listening to the subsequent tales of Mr. Tolliver, Mary Ann, Brian, et. al. The standard warning is issued against the prudish & close-minded as these books are nothing if not frank about sexual behavior both gay and straight and in-between. If you are eager, as I was, to revisit the original series but with no time to sit and read it, you'll be satisfied with this book which follows Michael to England during the year of the Queen's visit to America back in the Regan era. If you haven't read this series, as Rachel Maddow says, "you lucky dog" you are in for a treat.
Classic Armistead Maupin, Babycakes is a wonderful book. The storyline takes you on outrageous twists and turns but all of it is believable because of Maupin's richly developed characters. Nothing about them is forced or stretched to fit the story, they are already more than enough.
While Alan Cumming narrates very well for the most part, his low voice does not lend itself to doing female voices. Most come across as caricatures, undermining the written strength of the characters. (They can also really grate on your nerves.) Don't give up on the book because of the performance, you'll miss out on so much more! (And take comfort in the fact that he doesn't narrate any other books in the series.)
This wonderful col!section of lovable, dreadful characters are the special provenance is Armistead Maupin. If you laugh at and delight in them half as much as I, you will put this book on a special shelf of yout library.
All the narrators of this series have been terrific, but Alan Cumming is spectacular. Good series, too; heartwarming characters and hilarious hi jinks.
I DO intend to buy and listen to the next books in this series.... as long as they are not read by the whimpering Alan Cumming, an actor I DO like on the stage and screen.
Cumming has a weird notion of what American men AND women sound like when they converse. He makes the author's language sound trite, self-pitying, and childish. It will be a pleasure to return to Cynthia Nixon's narration for book FIVE of the series.
Bohemian Bon Vivant
No, because I can't take Alan Cumming's narration. He's ruining the book and doesn't seem to understand the first thing about acting or character. All of his female characters, regardless of their age, sound like an overly effete, drunk, air-headed, lush of a 13 year old girl. This one's definitely better in book form.
Yes, but Alan Cumming made it a chore. His amateurish narration was jarring and pulled me out of the book (which I have happily read at least eight times, like the rest of the series, since it was released).
Most of these books are better read than listened to, but this one is the most poorly narrated of all. It's impossible to love the characters the way you do in the book when they all talk like completely gushy drunken idiots.
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