The tenants of 28 Barbary Lane have fled their cozy nest for adventures far afield. Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with a forgetful stranger, Mona Ramsey discovers her doppelgänger in a desert whorehouse, and Michael Tolliver bumps into his favorite gynecologist in a Mexican bar. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of all - without ever leaving home.
©1980 The Chronicle Publishing Company (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
Don't you just love a great story well told?
Maupin hits stride in his second book with Mary Ann, the archetypal young single woman, continuing to loosen up in San Francisco in the seventies with the help of the residents of the Barbary Lane including the gay but fretful Michael, the slightly lost Mona, the carnally hungry Brian, and the extremely well adjusted but mysterious Anna Madrigal. These characters, their lovers, and friends make for a most realistic, funny, and charming portrait of gay and straight life in the seventies in San Francisco. The overall plot involving a nice guy with serious enigmatic phobias is the least reason for enjoying these books. The real reason to enjoy these books is to see the various character's lives intersect in the most unexpected ways and for them to treat each other with all the respect, dignity, and kindness that nice people of any sort deserve. (which excludes the dastardly Beachamp Day) The narration by Cynthia Nixon is the best so far. (I've heard four of these books now.) Nixon's tender voice is an excellent match for the gentle souls of this series. She reads with the perfect blend of narration and acting skills. Rachel Maddow's (oh and that's... "sweet but all-too-short") preface hits just the right note for this ground-breaking series that, rightly, treats being gay as a perfectly normal preference given to some people at birth. If you are considering this, be sure to buy the first book "Tales of the City" first. The whole thing makes far more sense when experienced in order. Not recommended for the close-minded or prudish with lots of frank sexual discussion.
Fabulous characters to follow through the city and the tale. Lots of fun for San Francisco residents or frequent visitors of the 1970's. Enjoyed reading the series in the SF Chronicle years ago, and love revisiting via audiobook. Cynthia Nixon is terrific!
What a treat to listen to Cynthia Nixon PERFORM all the parts, rather than just read them as so many narrators do! I lived in San Francisco when Tales of the City ran in the Chronicle each week so this is a walk down memory lane for me. I doubt it will resonate with a young reader (it's set in the 1970s and boy, have times changed) but the story is vivid, the characters quirky and appealing, and the reading, superb. This is light but very satisfying listening.
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