Sunday, March 2, 2014
THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL by Armistead Maupin
Anyone remember the 1970s when Armistead Maupin raised eyebrows and temperatures with his newspaper serial? We were introduced to an over-the-top cast of folks at Barbary Lane and the now lauded transgender landlady Anna Madrigal. Who thought, perhaps Maupin least of all, that this serial would become an internationally loved, bestselling series of eight books and a Peabody Award winning miniseries?
Today Maupin has taken us back to San Francisco in the ninth and final novel in his series - it is frosting on the cake. Anna is now 92-years-old, fragile but as plucky as ever. She’s also a realist and determined to “Leave like a lady.” Well, leave she may but she will forever be an important part of American popular literature.
In the latest story she is looked after by her much younger roommate Jake Greenleaf, the transgender gardener. Maupin reveals Anna’s early life in several chapters - back to the time when she was a boy named Andy in the 1930s. The author also brings back other characters so readers can have a last look at where they are today. There is Brian Hawkins, a former tenant who is now 67 and remarried to Wren a 50-some former plus-sized model. Shawna, Brian’s daughter, who is single, wants to have aa child and is in search of a sperm donor. As this is done it might be helpful if readers were familiar with earlier books, but whether or not it is a joyous and satisfying ride.
The Days of Ana Madrigal is an endearing story, rich with reconciliations, love, and a reminder of the unforgettable characters created by Armistead Maupin.
- Gail Cooke