The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin

The Tales of the City saga draws to a close in this novel, in which our titular 90-something heroinemadrigal explores her present and her Depression-era coming of age – a past that she experienced as a teenage boy.

Anna Madrigal has been the matriarch of 28 Barbary Lane since the 1970s, when her (now) far-flung clan began to coalesce.  Some of them still reside in San Fransisco, and soon come calling when Anna gets premonitions of death and feels the need to address past issues.  She’ll have to do some traveling, though – to her hometown of Winnemucca, Nevada, where Anna grew up as the child of a brothel’s madam, and then abruptly ran away at the age of sixteen.

Her former tenant Brian and his newlywed buxom wife Wren gladly come and drive Anna to Nevada – everyone else they are close to is heading in that direction, albeit to Burning Man, a yearly outdoor festival where creativity reins supreme and spontaneity rules the game – and the endless sand plays a major part.

Our friends do make it to Winnemucca.  Anna finds out more than she expected, and gains a real sense of resolution.  She, Brian, and Wren also have enough time to make the detour to Burning Man, where lots of surprises are in store.

When reading this book, it helps if you’re a Tales of the City fan and knowledgable of the back stories on the characters.  I read the first four books years ago, so had some inklings as to what was going on.  The Days of Anna Madrigal continues on the themes of the previous books, addressing gender issues with witty yet naughty repartee.  Long live the spirit of Mrs. Madrigal!

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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