Michael Tolliver Lives is a touching novel with a cast of unforgettable characters. Michael himself is fifty-five years old and happily married to his much younger partner, Ben. It seems like life is on a good streak for Michael. He is happy and thanks to the AIDS-cocktail, his battle agaist HIV is going great.
Then comes a phone call from his family in Florida. His brother Irwin informs him that he should think about coming home to see his mother, as she is seriously sick. The idea doesn't go over too well. Michael isn't sure he wants to deal with his family who are fundamentalists and have never been really accepting of his life choices.
He would much rather stay in San Francisco, working on his freelance gardener business and sharing his time with his logical family as Anna calls them. Anna Madrigal is a darling woman who you can't help but adore. She smokes pot and has a genuine love for life which seeps from the pages. Brian Hawkins is a down to earth guy who has overcome so much and has been a steadfast friend for Michael through the years. He shares his life with his daughter Shawna as they both lives their lives under a shadow, cast by the leaving of Shawna's mother so many years ago.
When Michael and Ben finally go to Florida, so begins a truly heartwarming tale of friendship, love, loss, forgiveness, trust and more. Still more characters are introduced - my favourite being Patreese, a gay hairdresser who just lights up the pages with his personality. It's written in a revealing and oftentimes comical way which seems to make the darker subjects contained within the novel, so much lighter and easier to take.
What I loved most about this book, is the fact that it shows so clearly the love between two men in a truly positive light.
I have seen reviews with sexual content warnings and sure enough, there is sexual content within the pages of this novel. However - to me at least - it's tastefully done and doesn't take away from the novel at all.
It's a fantastic book and though I haven't read any of the original Barbary Lane novels containing this character, I know I shall be looking them up at some point. It is important to note though, that this book, while containing many of the same characters from the Tales of the City Series, is not a sequel. If you go into this book knowing that, you will enjoy it so much more.
Author's website: http://www.armisteadmaupin.com/
Author's blog: http://www.armisteadmaupin.com/blog/