Mary Ann Singleton was twenty five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.
It was the 70s, and exactly the time of Jimmy Carter for President.
She came to the city alone for an eight-day vacation and after her vacation, she decided to start making her own life there.
It was nothing to do with her parents, but she wanted to have her own apartment and all.
She was a grown woman.
Here she became in touch with a lot of people, but above all with the tenants of 28 Barbary Lane.
She knew Anna Madrigal ,the landlady of 28 Barbary Lane. Anna had a tender and maternal relationship with each of her tenants. She encouraged Mary Ann to develop relationships, as the girl was sick and tired of being dumped on—romantically, emotionally and every other way. Wasn’t it time to take control of her life again? To deal with her problems directly and experience each moment to the fullest?
Mary Ann had a series of relationships, the first one with Beauchamp Day a narcissistic and philandering man. A graduate of Groton and Stanford and the handsome young Bostonian
She liked Beauchamp Day, actually, despite his irresponsibility. He was the husband of post-post-debutante DeDe Halcyon, but he had also an affair with Jon Fielding, his wife's gynecologist.
Jon was a discreet, dispassionate, noncommittal man. He could diddle away a frenzied hour or two, then return unblemished to the business of being a doctor.
He had also a love affair with Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver.
Mary Ann seemed to become most comfortable with Michael, perhaps because they were both from more conservative parts of the U.S. They belonged to nobody, and nobody belonged to them.
Michael Mouse was a positive and friendly gay man. He lived with Mona after his then-boyfriend ends their relationship.
Mona Ramsey was Mary Ann's spacey, bohemian neighbor She was thirty-one years old. She had lost her job at and she needed a new one. Her mother in Minneapolis had somehow lost the power to communicate with her.
And when D'orothea Wilson called her after many years, she decided to go to live with her. D'orothea was a successful model who come back to San Francisco to restore her love affair with Mona.
Mona was sick of buying clothes at Goodwill and pretending they ere funky. She wanted a bathroom and a microwave oven and a place to plant roses and a goddamn dog.
D'orothea Wilson was an image of grace and sophistication, dark and sleek as a patent-leather dancing slipper.
D’orothea had worked in New York for five years, peddling her polished onyx features to Vogue and Harper’s, Clovis Ruffin and Stephen Burrows and “everybody else who was hopping on the Afro bandwagon.”
Mona wished D’orothea could let her share her life, introduce her to her friends … and her family. Her parents were in Oakland and Mona never had even seen them.
But D’orothea didn't talk to her parents. She hadn’t exchanged a word with them since she got back from New York. Not a word.
But why? Was she afraid to let them know she was a lesbian? Was she really an Ebony Idol? Only at the end of the novel we know the truth about her.
She really wanted to help Mona and she said to her that she could talk to Edgar Halcyon about her job.
Mona worked for Edgar Halcyon.
Beauchamp was Edgar Halcyon’s son-in-law and employee; he had put the badmouth on Mona, and the old man tossed her out on her can.
Edgar Halcyon was the head of Halcyon Communications. He was married with Frannie. They were DeDe's parents.
Frannie spent most of her day in an oblivious, alcohol-induced haze. She was lost in another time, when loneliness wasn’t barren but beautiful, when snapshots and love letters and the honeyed voice of Bing Crosby had eased her gently through the most difficult winter of her life.
When Edgar Halcyon discovered that he was dying, begins an affair with Anna Madrigal and Frannie missed him terribly.
But D’orothea and Edgar were not the only ones to have secrets in that town.
At 28 Barbary Lane there was another tenant, Norman Neal Williams, a skittish recluse of a man; he was cruelly referred to as Boo Radley by the other tenants.
Mary Ann started a relationship with him and Norman, who was older than her, forty-four years old and he always asked her why did she go out with him.
Mary Ann considered him a very strong, gentle and masculine and appealing man and moreover, according to her, he believed in a lot of traditional values and he didn’t make her feel like he was out of it all the time.
So she liked to stay with him, even if she had a lot of guys are after her.
One of this was Brian Hawkins, a waiter and ex-lawyer.
Boris was beautiful, independent and loved. He belonged to no one in particular, but he moved freely through a wide circle of benefactors and friends.
Considered a womanizer by nearly everyone he knows, he spent much of his time searching nightclubs and taverns for women.
There was no stability there, in that town. Everything was too easy. Nobody sticked with anybody or anything, because there was always something just a little bit better waiting around the corner.
There was a theory,” said Anna, “that San Franciscans are all Atlanteans. In one of their last incarnations, we were all citizens of Atlantis. All of us. You, me, Frannie, DeDe, Mary. We all lived in this lovely, enlightened kingdom that sank beneath the sea a long time ago. Now we’ve come back to this special peninsula on the edge of the continent because we know, in a secret corner of our minds, that we must return together to the sea.”...Continua
What a fun read! Witty, well-written, with likeable characters that bring up that feeling of peace and excitement you have when you feel in control of your life. Reading about Ms Madrigal and Mary Ann especially made me feel they were my friends. I was so sad when I finished it that ran to the bookshop to get More Tales of the City....Continua
Adorabile affresco delle peripezie di Mary Ann, giunta dalla periferia degli U.S.A., nella San Francisco degli anni ’70. Incontri e piccoli scontri con una fauna etero e omosessuale alla ricerca del proprio partner, per una fantastica notte, o per numerosi anni, o solo, come più spesso accade, per quello che la vita ci concede, ma con spirito allegro, ora ironico ora solo ilare anche quando da ridere non ci sarebbe molto, ma ecco che poco dopo arriva un sorriso ed un “cannone” ad aiutare a sbirciare la vita con ottimismo.
Le ripide strade di San Francisco sono proprio quelle, così come l’odore dell’oceano ed insieme agli incontri dolci ed amari dei protagonisti ci aiutano a dare una virata verso un eccellente buon umore che ci pervade durante la lettura di questo romanzo che da oltre 35 anni viene pubblicato in numerosi paesi.
A very fun book, hard to put down. Maybe not a literary masterpiece, but more enjoyable than a lot of books that pretend they are.
The book is quite enjoyable, and the writer style is absolutely nice, but I can't tell this book was fantastic as I was told before reading. I know that a city is never big enough, but it seemed to me quite odd that all the characters in the book were related somehow... too many coincidences! I must admit that the end of the book was surprising, though....Continua