The Days of Anna Madrigal

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City novels began as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1970s. The Days of Anna Madrigal, the ninth book in the series, may truly be its finale, yet it's as good a place to start as any of its predecessors.

Maupin's core group of characters--Michael, Mary Ann, Brian and their landlady Anna Madrigal--left their apartments on San Francisco's Russian Hill long ago, but they've remained connected as what Anna describes as a "logical" (as opposed to biological) family. Biology, however, is staking a claim on Mrs. Madrigal now. Having surprised nearly everyone, including herself, by making it to the age of 92, she's begun to feel an urgent need to deal with loose ends. The entire family will soon be off to the Nevada desert for a week at Burning Man, and the trip offers Anna the opportunity for a detour to Winnemucca, Nev., and a visit to her past.

While much of The Days of Anna Madrigal explores Anna's Depression-era youth, the novel is firmly set in the present. Maupin strikes a good balance with just enough background to clarify the story for newcomers while rewarding longtime readers with new insights into characters they know and love. If The Days of Anna Madrigal really is the last of the Tales of the City, the ending offers readers old and new the chance to revisit it all from the very beginning. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

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