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Retro Reading: Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin


Technically, I should have been cutting the grass, but I read about Michael and Jake doing yardwork, so that counts, right?

Mary Ann Singleton Carruthers finds herself back in San Francisco wandering the familiar haunts of the past as she gets ready to meet with her best friend, Michael Tolliver. The last time she was in town was when her "family" from 28 Barbary Lane called to tell her about the stroke Mrs. Madrigal had.

At that time, she flew into town (with her husband Bob) on his private plane but this time, he doesn't know that she's left him. Plus, he doesn't know about her cancer diagnosis.

Over at Michael's house, Mary Ann unloads on him about her health and how she found out that Bob and her life coach, Calliope had been having an affair. The two were in Venice and Mary Ann witnessed the indiscretion via Skype.

After packing her bags, she felt that it was best to come home to San Francisco and have the hysterectomy that she needs. Had she been in Connecticut, word would have gotten out and she didn't want to hear the whispers behind her back.

Ben, Michael's much younger husband, isn't too thrilled with the drama queen coming to town, but figures that it'll be okay since she'll be staying in the converted cottage (really a modified shed) behind their house. He tells Michael that he'll try to be on his best behavior and even shows her how to set up a Facebook account.

Like most people, Mary Ann becomes addicted to the website and uses her maiden name when setting up the account. She's even more thrilled when she's able to reconnect with fans of her old morning show but starts to get odd personal messages from someone from her past.

Before her surgery, she reconnects with DeDe Halcyon-Wilson who recommends the best surgeon and after setting up the surgery, Michael and Ben whisk her away for a couple of days to see their property in Pinyon City, an extremely small town up north.

The couple always rent a small house across the street from a general store and when Mary Ann goes across the street to get some supplies, she's stopped in her tracks when she hears a howling. On the street is a man who she saw in the store and when she looks at him, she casually waves to him to let him know that she heard the howling also. He doesn't acknowledge her and resumes his walk down the street.

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Back in the city, Shawna and her boyfriend, Otto, are stopped by a homeless woman and she gives her money, but after driving off, she can't get the woman out of her mind. The next day, she returns to the intersection and is told that the woman goes by the name Leia and later Otto tells her that he saw her earlier in the day.

They go to her last known sighting and spot her in an alley turning a trick and then after a scream, Shawna rushes to her and discovers that she's been stabbed.

Once they come back from their little get away, DeDe takes Mary Ann to the hospital for her surgery and Shawna visits Leia, until she finds out that she passed away.

Shawna, who's been writing a blog about the woman, takes responsibility for her and has her cremated. She also "inherits" a Star Wars lunchbox and finds a letter in a secret hiding spot with an address.

She and Otto go to the address, but no one is there, and she leaves a note letting the occupant know that Leia has passed away.

Following her surgery, Mary Ann is back at Michael's house and while the two are out to dinner, Mary Ann is forced to confront her past and the secret that's been haunting her for a majority of her life.

This installment in the series really brings a lot of the past together and provides a really good mystery along the way. And surprisingly, Mary Ann isn't as bad of a character as she had turned into in the earlier installments.

Maupin also brings a lot from the past into this installment which has you stopping and thinking about certain books.

Since the series was originally to have ended with Sure of You it's a treat to get your mind going back to the other books and see just how little things have come together.

Some of these elements are used in the 2019 reboot of Tales of the City (available only on Netflix) which makes a lot of sense after having watched the reboot.

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