" The divinely human comedy that began with Tales of the City rolls recklessly along as Michael Tolliver pursues his favourite gynaecologist, Mona Ramsey uncovers her roots in a desert whorehouse, and Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with the amnesiac of her dreams."
The first instalment in Maupin’s Tales of the City series was one of my best finds of the year. I loved every moments of it and raced through it in just a day or two. With eight novels to follow in the series I was both thrilled and nervous about continuing. Thrilled because I had so much time with these wonderful characters still ahead of me, nervous that the story might not live up to my initial hype as I continued on.
If this second instalment is anything to go by, I have nothing to worry about as this book was just as wonderful as the first.
The book features the continued adventures of the multiple residents of 28 Barbury Lane and the interweaving lives of San Francisco citizens.
For this instalment ,the absurdity of the storylines have been ramped up and we get to see Mouse and Mary-Anne go on a cruise and meet an amnesiac with a phobia of roses, Mona travels out of the city, getting a job as a secretary in a Winnemucca brothel with surprising ties to her own history and Brian starts a relation ship with a woman he views through binoculars.
It’s soap opera storytelling, each plot thread taken on its own would make for an unbelievable novel but taken together they’re absolutely ridiculous. What saves the book from this fate however is its characters. As I said in my first review, every one of these characters are absolutely fantastic. It’s a rare and difficult thing to create an ensemble cast where you like every character equally, yet that’s what Maupin has managed to do with this series. Even the new characters he brings in are all wonderful and not once did I find myself wishing I could skip over a characters plot to get back to another one I was enjoying more.
Even during the books goofier moments it never feels completely unbelievable. Somehow it all works, nothing ever feels like something that wouldn’t happen to these characters. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like you’re watching a plot unfold. It really does feel like you’re simply dropping in on these characters at a moment in their lives. Where characters in novels and movies usually only have life within that one story, the residents of Barbury Lane have lives that continue on long after this novel finishes, this isn’t the main event in these peoples lives, it’s just one of many events that will unfold for them. It’s because of this that these ridiculous plotlines feel like they could really happen, it’s just one chapter of a greater whole.
It should be obvious by now that I’d happily recommend this book. I normally like to give both sides of the argument in these reviews, the pros and the cons but honestly, I don’t know what faults I could possibly point out in this book. If there were any, they left no impact on me as I was so absorbed in the plot and the characters. Tales of the City is quickly becoming one of my favourite series of books and I can’t wait to jump into book three.
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