You gotta read the whole set of books by Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City series). Truly wonderful characters, set in San Francisco. If you watched the British broadcast of Tales of the City, and loved it, then these books are for you! The last couple of books was written after the mini-series, so there's lots of laughs & heartaches from there. He writes beautifully, has some excellent wit, and deals with major problems in the process. I give it more stars than Amazon has, it's like you live there with those crazy characters. What a deal that is! Pick them ALL up and read them in the series, I promise you won't be sorry!
When I first started reading Significant Others, I didn't think I would like it. First off, two of the residents of Barbary Lane moved to another place, which kind of broke up the family feel of the story. The time is supposed to be either '85 or '86 and there is one main character who seems to be regulated to the background (I'm not talking about Mona).
But as I kept on reading, the story lines sucked me back in. Maupin is a great story teller that keeps the reader hooked, even though the time is different, places are different, and the beloved characters are different. Remember, the story takes place nine or ten years after we've been introduced to the Barbary Lane family, and they're not the same people they were in '76.
I'm not going to give away any secrets from SO. Just know that although the story and characters have evolved, Barbary Lane retains that human interaction/warmth(?) element, which seems to be the thread linking all of the Tales of the City books together.
But on the other hand, SO does feel like a "darker" book. Perhaps it's because the characters have grown up. Maybe it's because they've become cynical. Maybe it was the disease that was devouring the city. Or maybe, I feel that SO is darker because I know it's the second to the last of the TOTC series...and the realization that nothing lasts forever, finally hit me.
As always, Armistead Maupin's writing is superb and his characters intriguing. The story line moves away from 28 Barbary and into the countryside, so we sort of lose touch with some of our favorite people. Even so, Maupin introduces us to some hilarious characters and situations - a women's camp and a high-falutin' men's retreat, both of which are populated with wild and crazy people. I simply loved the first three books in this series, which brought back all those good memories of San Francisco, but I'm also enjoying the "spreading out" of the setting and feel I'm getting to know more about the people who live in the city and what they do and what makes them who and what they are.
I would recommend this book to Maupin readers who enjoy the entire Tales set, which will conclude this very month. My husband and I have come to enjoy the characters very much; some people would be uncomfortable with the frank and honest--and relaxed, but never graphic--portrayal of gay life as normal life. That would not be Maupin's problem. It's a fine series, and it inspired to some degree Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street series, which has a similar affectionate tone and appreciation of people.
I have read these books completely out of order but it has not made one iota of difference in the quality or excellence of the material. I have come to know and love all of the amazing characters. I have become invested in their lives, their loves and their emotional highs and lows.
I am going to be extraordinarily sad when I finish the last volume. Although I am a gay woman, your life experiences cross paths with our daily life. Familiarity is nice sometimes. Thank you.
It continues the saga and is a delight to read. After the initial 3 Tales of the City, you kind of want to know what was next for the main characters and Maupin provides wonderfully. Each character is well defined and you come to feel you know these people. I'm glad he continued the saga even if these last 4 books will never be televised.
A year ago when I was thinking about relocating to the SF area, I picked up the first book in this series, got hooked, and bought the entire series. It made me fall even more in love with the city I knew I had to be a part of. I year later, I do work in SF and live very close by (rental market in SF is a whole other story - if only Mrs. Madrigal had a place available!!). Light, fun reads - I really enjoyed the entire series.