I hadn’t been living in the San Francisco Bay Area all that long before I found the first “Tales of the City” book. That was back in the late 70s/early 80s. I read the next few just as soon as they came out, and many of these characters felt like family to me because I could recognize all these people in people I knew in “real life”.
I hadn’t realized the author had picked up the series again in 2007, nearly 20 years after the previous book in the series which came out in 1989, until I came across the audio version of “The Days of Anna Madrigal” in the public library. It had been SO LONG – but I instantly recognized the name. Who could forget Anna Madrigal? And now I find there are books I haven’t read, and it all makes me want to start reading them again from the beginning.
Listening to “The Days of Anna Madrigal” brought back so many memories. I’ve been thinking a lot about those days, and all the people I knew back then in all of our unconventional eccentric glory. And of thinking of the years since then, how many of them I still know, how so many old friends became lifelong friends, and how long the threads of our lives have tangled and fallen apart and crossed paths again.
I listened to the last few chapters of the book today, and what a wonderful thing it was, to revisit all these old friends. And now, when I think of monarch butterflies, I’m going to have new and lasting images in my mind from the perfect way he ended the book.
From the Amazon description:
“Alas, this is the ninth and final novel in Maupin’s beloved Tales of the City series, the first three volumes of which were made into a television miniseries starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, which has now achieved cult status. But let’s not mourn the end of this run of rich, loving novels. Instead, let’s read this tender last one as a celebration of the wonderful characters Maupin created, whose lives have centered on landlady and den-mother Anna Madrigal’s home at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. Anna is now 92 years old, as infirm as her age would dictate, but the feisty, generous, selfless spirit that has guided her and attracted so many people to her side remains unbroken. While a group of her friends heads off to Burning Man, the wild arts festival held yearly in the Nevada desert, other friends of Anna’s take her back to her hometown, also in Nevada, which she has not visited since she left there as a boy in the 1930s, and where she now hopes to reconcile a situation that has been on her mind since then. Admirably, Maupin’s last novel in the series is as compulsively readable and endearing as all previous novels have been.”