Book of the Week, reviews, Series I love

Book of the Week: Mary Ann in Autumn

This week’s BotW is Armistead Maupin’s eighth book in the Tales of the City series – Mary Ann in Autumn.  I discovered the series last year as book nine came out and have loved every installment so far.

  In Mary Ann in Autumn our favourite characters have reached middle age with new challenges and old ones.  Mary Ann has never been my favourite character in the series, but in this she comes across as the most human and real that I’ve seen her.  It does make me sad that Mrs Madrigal is much older and frailer in this book, but that’s life and that’s aging.  And it means we get more of Jake.

I think it’s a real testament that Maupin has been able to keep the series feeling fresh and real and relevant 30 years after it started.  Not all authors would have been happy to keep bringing their characters up to date – and still less of them would have been able to do it and make it beliveable and true.  The “final” book in the series is just out in paperback and I need to get my hands on a copy asap.  Although with the current state of the to read pile I may try to hang fire on that for a week or two.

You should be able to get Mary Ann in Autumn from all the usual sources, but do yourself a favour and start from the beginning of the series. Even The Boy likes them!

Authors I love, books, reviews

2014 Highlights: Discoveries

Every year there are a couple of authors I discover and then rattle through their back catalogue – in 2013 it was Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books and Ann Granger’s Mitchell and Markby series.  So now we’re at the end of 2014, I had a look back at who my big discoveries have been this year.

Armistead Maupin – I read seven of Maupin’s Tales of the City books this year and only the fact that the others haven’t yet been published in covers that match the ones I already have stopped me buying the rest – my mania for sets and the size of the to-read pile have trumped my need to know what happened next for once!  This is another case of me kicking myself for not reading them sooner.  Several people I work with were so excited when The Days of Anna Madrigal came out in January that I had to go and see what it was that they were so enthusiastic about.  And I’m so glad I did – but equally perplexed that I hadn’t come across them before – this year I’ve seen so many articles about them or references to them in so many places, that I wonder if I was stupid not to have got on this band wagon earlier.  I lent Tales of the City to The Boy – and he rattled through it and loved it too.  Please Transworld, can we have Mary Anne in Autumn and The Days of Anna Madrigal in the same style as the others soon?

Angela Thirkell – I’ve now read all of Angela Thirkell’s books that have been reissued by Virago and am in the tricky position of trying to work out whether to start looking for the rest in second hand editions or wait for more reissues.  They are exactly the sort of book that appeals to me – witty comedies of manners set in a period of history that I love (hence my passion for Golden Age detective stories).  Having read Nancy Mitford’s novels this year as well (finally got around to them!) which are similar in some ways, I think I actually like Thirkell more – her characters are more sympathetic even if the world is a little too soft focus and happily-ever-after at times.

Gail Carriger – I discovered Ms Carriger and her works much later in the year than these other two – and have rattled my way through her back catalogue at breakneck speed.  Since I read a copy of her first Finishing School YA novel through NetGalley in late September I’ve read practically everything she’s published – that is to say two more Finishing School books, four Parasol Protectorate novels and three short stories.  I’m saving the last Parasol Protectorate novel and the novella prequel though – because I don’t want Alexia’s story to be over.  Unless something dreadful and disillusioning happens in Timeless, I suspect Carriger is going to join the list of authors that I pre-order as soon as the titles are announced so that I get their books asap.  She’s also my first venture into the world of Steampunk – and so who knows 2015’s discoveries could feature more authors from this area of fiction.

So thank you 2014 and here’s to 2015 and its discoveries – who knows what I’ll be raving about in twelve months time – it really could be anything!