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Significant Others

(Tales of the City #5)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  8,150 ratings  ·  273 reviews
8 hrs and 37 mins

The fifth novel in the beloved Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin’s best-selling San Francisco saga, soon to return to television as a Netflix original series once again starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis.

Tranquillity reigns in the ancient redwood forest until a women-only music festival sets up camp downriver from an all-male retreat for t
Paperback, 322 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 1987)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,150 ratings  ·  273 reviews

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Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's this fifth one that (finally) falters...

I read the first four Tales of the City books last year, and just to inject this year with that same sense of plot/character preposterousness, I get to this one, the one that actually has two characters seriously contend with the AIDS epidemic. As the series gains heft in terms of drama and historical importance, it suffers from making the situations (the different vignettes that portend the picaresque appeal) all-too familiar to previous installments
Nov 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
This is book 5 in the Tales of the City series.Critics are full of praise for the author.My impressions are mixed.

In terms of coherent storytelling,this book doesn't deliver.But what the author does have is a wicked sense of humour.There are some hilarious,laugh out loud moments and that is the saving grace of the book.

2.5 stars,rounded up.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this one and thought Maupin did a great job with the new character of "the world's most beautiful fat woman" - because introducing a character into the mix of well-established characters is a tricky proposition, but she was a welcome addition. Also, even though it's a bit disconcerting, I like how the characters reveal new and unexpected facets in each book - and I think that Maupin does a great job in switching things up while remaining true to his characters.

At any rate, one of my peev
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another enjoyable installment in the "Tales" series. Being based around a "Wimmin's" camp and a businessmen's summer retreat, it seems slightly odd and out of step with the other books, but marks Maupin's growing interest in the inner lives of the characters, rather than the fantastic exploits that they get up to. Even though the experience is unmistakeably American, it still resonates with the Gay and gender politics of the 1980s in the UK.

I particularly remember one year when we were g
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I'd review these in preparation for the Anna Madrigal book coming out in January 2014. I honestly didn't expect to be catapulted head over heels back to Barbary Lane, back to the late 80s. Some of my intense reaction to this story/timeline must be attributed to my recent reading of the unutterably brilliant Two Boys Kissing, but much of it is down to Maupin's lovely writing. The narration is great, too. ...more
From BBC Radio 4:
More from the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Here Lin Coghlan dramatises stories from the novels Significant Others and Sure of You . Back in Barbary Lane, Mrs Madrigal is still attending her sensamilla plants .. Michael has found love again with his new boyfriend Thack. Brian and Mary Anne have gone to higher ground. living in a house which looms over Barbary Lane on The Summit .

Produced by Charlotte Riches
Directed in Salford by Susan Roberts.
Richard Moss
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
When in search of a lighter read, Armistead Maupin never fails, or at least he hasn't up to now.

Not that there aren't serious events taking place in the fifth Tales of the City book. We are now in the era of Aids and it is having repercussions for gay and straight characters.

But what I come back to these novels for is the family of familiar characters who I have grown to love and cherish, as well as the wit and humanity of Maupin's writing.

Significant Others doesn't disappoint on that score. Mau
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light
I've now reread a couple of these in less than a week. They're really a delightful and distracting read. On one level they read like a form of trashy fiction. But they also serve as time capsules to a particular time and place. And it's San Francisco during the AIDS epidemic--at least in this one. That makes them of more substantive interest, I think. While I remember that time there is an immediacy to reading about it in these books that is quite thought-provoking. ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this series about every 2 years or so. Never ceases to make me laugh or cry. I love all these characters.
Mark Hiser
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1985, and AIDS holds San Francisco in its grip. Life is fragile. Relationships are fragile. Even the wooden stairway leading to 28 Barbary Lane is fragile. People must learn how to live fully in a time of fear, how to commit to one another, and how to protect one another.

This fifth entry in the Tales of the City series begins when Brian learns that a woman with whom he had slept is dying of AIDS related complications. Fearfully, he asks his HIV+ friend Michael Tolliver to go with him for an HIV
Lauren Burlew
I liked this book a lot better than the last. This one was more substantial, set in the shadow of the AIDS crisis, while the last seemed more hijink-y. I don't rate these books individually very highly, but I rate the series as a whole highly. I like seeing the characters grow. ...more
3.7, As usual Tales of the City brings the comfort reading I need. I continue to enjoy seeing how Maupin's writing and characterization has progressed and the topics he explores through his books. Still so many subjects in this book remain relevant. On the other hand why does he have such a soft spot for Brian? Other Brian's good relationship with Mouse, he is such a dirtbag to the rest of the characters.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to see this one made into a movie, it would be hilarious.
This may be my favorite one so far. He tells great stories. Loved Wren and her individuality.
Tansy Hepton
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love portrayed in many forms. It continues to be a joy to follow these characters as they develop and grow.
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the “Plant Parenthood” nursery name!
Eve Kay
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, gayness
Thank you mister Maupin for restoring my faith in you.
I'm gonna start with the bad, coz honestly, the book starts bad, and end with the good, coz, well, you get it.
Babycakes had left a foul taste in my mouth and starting Significant Others was a chore. I wouldn't have ever started it if I hadn't already bought it.
In the beginning we leave a bitchy Mary Ann and the always lovely Mrs. Madrigal behind and follow some guy Brian (I know who Brian is) who I've up until now always thought of as a sid
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reminded of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City characters during a conversation with a friend so when I walked into my favorite & only remaining bookstore that features second hand books and is shutting its doors soon I looked for some of his titles. This one falls somewhere in the middle of the novels that continue the Tales of the City columns about life on Barbary Lane in San Francisco of the late 70's. If you've never met Mary Ann, Brian, Michael, Mrs. Magrigal et al it matters not a ...more
Dannii (lilbob1980)

Significant Others - Armistead Maupin.

Like usual Maupin left me laughing and reading this book incredibly quickly. It was great to have DeDe as a more prominent character as she has always been in the background (apart from Further Tales, but that was a very specific story). It was also great to see Mouse taking a chance on love. I also thought that AIDS was handled really well. At the time the book was written i was a child and i remember all the TV programmes that tried to raise awareness abou
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
First off, I was hesitant to read this installment due to the blurb on the back, which made it sound just dreadful about a women-only, men-only clash in the Redwoods. But it was NOTHING like the blurb, it was Barbary goes up-river, with the characters we know and love going to the wilderness. I actually think that the 4th and 5th volumes in the series are just as good if not better (cough, Babycakes, cough) then the more touted first 3. My one major grip, Wren, the worlds most beautiful fat wome ...more
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After all those reviews about how Babycakes was the weakest book of the series, I'm kind of wishing I had stopped at Further Tales of the City. The whole charm of the series was backdrop - San Francisco in the swinging 70s, and the characters used to embody this time wholeheartedly. Now, everyone is kind of dreary in the 80s, the relationships are strained, there aren't the clever twists and mysteries that were in the first 4 (counting Babycakes), and to be truthful, it's no longer fun. I'm givi ...more
Julia Putnam
This was a bit better because we didnt have to deal with any of MaryAnn's crazy b.s. I can't believe how much she's sold out, though. And her negative attitude towards Barbary Lane and Mrs. Madrigal pisses me off. I enjoyed the new chaecters and hope at least one of them makes a return appearance. I don't care enough about DeDe and D'or's to really have an opinion about their messed up situation. I'm glad DeDe seems to be a good mom though.

I'm still not sold but I do still really like Michael an
I have now read all of the Tales of the City series. It has taken me 13 years, and I've read them completely out of order. Some day, I will read them all in order, and make much more sense of them. Of course, they stand alone well enough to be engaging. In capturing the essence of the time and place, they come close to stereotyping, yet manage to stay on the light, humorous side. ...more
Davie Bennett
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice, quick read. There isn't much to say, really; this is book five in the Tales of the City series, so you've got to be pretty invested in these characters to make it this far. I enjoyed that this one was set in 1987, a year in which I was both alive and slightly more cognizant of culture and the world, so I was able to understand some of the political and pop culture references. ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-in-english
I'm on a roll with this series right now. Focus is more and more on Michael Tolliver as AIDS is becoming a serious issue and causes pain and anxiety among the characters. There are hints (more than that, actually) of unresolved conflicts between some of the main characters, and I'm looking forward to see how they play out in the next volume.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this entire series. I have read all 8 books and want to go back and read them again. The only "fault" I can complain about is too much life detail is skipped in between books. I think he could have brought even more depth into the main characters. Now I can't wait to actually go to San Francisco! ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still love Mouse to pieces, and I liked the redwoods setting for the three parallel stories. I hate what Maupin has done with Mary Ann, and there was almost no Mrs. Madrigal in this one.

Also: now that Frannie Halcyon has been dubbed "Gangie" by her grandchildren, I can only picture her as Jessica Walter, which is really perfect.
David Schwan
A good installment in the series. Most of the story takes place in the Russian River Valley with two large events being described, one a feminist/lesbian music festival and the other the annual get together of the Bohemian Club (of SF). As the series progresses the story line revolves around a smaller group of people.
Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one out of order, kinda wish I hadn't, but no big deal. Same as before, love the characters, love the way Maupin paints the City. Totally books I keep on my bookshelf. Now I need to watch the miniseries again! ...more
My least favorite in the series so far.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I skipped the two books in the middle and went right to the fifth when I found this at (insert independent bookstore here, I forget.) I just didn't want to pass it up! This was my favorite of the bunch. Much moodier and sadder than the other two. [SOPHIE, SPOILER ALERT.] The AIDS crisis is in full swing now, Michael is positive, Jon died in one of the books I didn't read, Mary Ann is oddly a talk show host and married to Brian who is still sleeping around although says he's happy with her. Meanw ...more
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Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.

Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 19

Other books in the series

Tales of the City (9 books)
  • Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)
  • More Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #2)
  • Further Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #3)
  • Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)
  • Sure of You (Tales of the City, #6)
  • Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7)
  • Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8)
  • The Days of Anna Madrigal (Tales of the City, #9)

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