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Babycakes

Tales of the City, Book 4
Narrated by: Alan Cumming
Series: Tales of the City, Book 4
Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4.5 out of 5 stars (60 ratings)

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Summary

Inspiration for the Netflix Limited Series, Tales of the City

The fourth novel in the beloved Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin’s best-selling San Francisco saga.

When an ordinary househusband and his ambitious wife decide to start a family, they discover there’s more to making a baby than meets the eye. Help arrives in the form of a grieving gay neighbor, a visiting monarch, and the dashing young lieutenant who defects from her yacht. Bittersweet and profoundly affecting, Babycakes was the first piece of fiction to acknowledge the arrival of AIDS.  

©1984 The Chronicle Publishing Company (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

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    5 out of 5 stars

A great book, but...

I love Armistead Maupin and I really like Alan Cumming, but I'm really not convinced on this pairing. Having listened to the other books thus far this one jolts.. It feels like he is trying too hard with the characters.

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Profile Image for Scott
  • Scott
  • 07-04-13

Maupin's 4th "Tales" Book with a Male Narrator

See previous reviews for discussion of the characters. The big difference in this book is that the subject matter begins to get more serious as the author and our country began to come to grips with the crisis of AIDS. Since the series was originally published in a newspaper is was necessary to follow current events which makes it all that much more realistic. The other big difference in this audiobook is the male narrator which probably seemed appropriate since the series begins to revolve more around Michael and less around Mary Ann. Alan Cummings can be a bit hard to take at first since you are, by now, likely used to the gentler tones of Ms. McDorland or Ms. Nixon narrating. He's not THAT bad, it's just that he takes his voice acting a bit over the top to the point where his voice is grating for brief moments which is why I knocked a star off the performance. He lands solidly on the acting side of the narrator/actor balance but he gives us stereotypes. As the book goes I adjusted and he does excellent British accents which are necessary and appropriate to the story. Still, he gets four stars. Some will give worse but while the narrator may slightly diminish, he will by no means ruin your enjoyment of this book. (He's still a *lot* better than the alternative which was Maupin reading his own work.) Here Mary Ann struggles with trying to balance a career and pressures to be a parent. There isn't as much of a fantastic mystery at the heart of this fourth book as there were in the previous two. It is again recommended that you start with the original Tales of the City before listening to the subsequent tales of Mr. Tolliver, Mary Ann, Brian, et. al. The standard warning is issued against the prudish & close-minded as these books are nothing if not frank about sexual behavior both gay and straight and in-between. If you are eager, as I was, to revisit the original series but with no time to sit and read it, you'll be satisfied with this book which follows Michael to England during the year of the Queen's visit to America back in the Regan era. If you haven't read this series, as Rachel Maddow says, "you lucky dog" you are in for a treat.

5 people found this helpful

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  • DickensRocks
  • 05-05-15

Alan Cumming ROCKS

All the narrators of this series have been terrific, but Alan Cumming is spectacular. Good series, too; heartwarming characters and hilarious hi jinks.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Kathleen
  • Kathleen
  • 20-01-16

Wonderful book

Classic Armistead Maupin, Babycakes is a wonderful book. The storyline takes you on outrageous twists and turns but all of it is believable because of Maupin's richly developed characters. Nothing about them is forced or stretched to fit the story, they are already more than enough.
While Alan Cumming narrates very well for the most part, his low voice does not lend itself to doing female voices. Most come across as caricatures, undermining the written strength of the characters. (They can also really grate on your nerves.) Don't give up on the book because of the performance, you'll miss out on so much more! (And take comfort in the fact that he doesn't narrate any other books in the series.)

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kent Valandra
  • 31-12-15

Only Maupin

This wonderful col!section of lovable, dreadful characters are the special provenance is Armistead Maupin. If you laugh at and delight in them half as much as I, you will put this book on a special shelf of yout library.






1 person found this helpful

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  • Catnip
  • 03-11-16

I ordinarily love Alan Cumming, but...

I've listened to other books narrated by Alan Cumming and loved them, but this one not so much. His British accents in Babycakes are (as you would expect) excellent, but he manages to make every single female character in this book sound extraordinarily shrill. It marred the experience for me.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert R.
  • 27-05-13

Fun Book in the Series Destroyed by Poor Narration

Would you listen to Babycakes again? Why?

No, because I can't take Alan Cumming's narration. He's ruining the book and doesn't seem to understand the first thing about acting or character. All of his female characters, regardless of their age, sound like an overly effete, drunk, air-headed, lush of a 13 year old girl. This one's definitely better in book form.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

See above.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but Alan Cumming made it a chore. His amateurish narration was jarring and pulled me out of the book (which I have happily read at least eight times, like the rest of the series, since it was released).

Any additional comments?

Most of these books are better read than listened to, but this one is the most poorly narrated of all. It's impossible to love the characters the way you do in the book when they all talk like completely gushy drunken idiots.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ron C. Weber
  • 19-07-19

wonderful story

love these books. Great narration. very easy to listen to. love Maupin and his Stories.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kristyn Rose
  • 29-06-19

I love Alan Cumming, but....

The brilliant stories of these characters continues unabashed! They are poignantly human. We get to see years of change and upheaval through their eyes, through loving portrayals of imperfect people, making their way through what life throws their way.
My only issue is with the narrator. I love Alan Cumming, completely. However, I found his narration a bit lacking. To be blunt, he voices all the female characters like they are caricatures of drag queens. Their dialogue is over dramatized and brash, no matter the context, which is unfortunate. If you know these characters already, then you can imagine the delivery as it was probably intended.

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  • Maurizio
  • 21-05-18

Wonderful book - horrible reader

Another fantastic novel in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Unfortunately, Alan Cumming - usually a fantastic actor - ruins almost completely the book with his interpretation.

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Profile Image for Kathleen Fuller
  • Kathleen Fuller
  • 15-10-16

Great fun to listen to

Would you listen to Babycakes again? Why?

YES

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mrs. M of course

Have you listened to any of Alan Cumming’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I like the way he can switch back and forth with each character's voice

Who was the most memorable character of Babycakes and why?

Wilfred a definite child abuse survivor with a happy ending

Any additional comments?

I love the series