Corduroy Mansions: 1

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9780349122397: Corduroy Mansions: 1

Following on from the huge success of the "44 Scotland Street" series, Alexander McCall Smith 'moved house' to London's Pimlico and into his brand new daily novel, "Corduroy Mansions". The building itself - described in a guide to the architecture of the area as 'a building of no interest whatsoever' - is believed to have been built as an asylum, or possibly a school, or maybe it was a mansion block - nobody is very sure. In fact, nothing of its history is known, although it does have some nice Arts and Craft features. At the moment it is inhabited by an assortment of characters - including amongst others a literary agent, a wine merchant, one accountant, possibly the first ever nasty Liberal Democrat MP and his long-suffering PA, and a small dog in his prime. At least one character is on a voyage of self-discovery, which has taken him to Cheltenham so far. Although Corduroy Mansions is a nickname, it is now recognized by the Post Office.

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Review:

Alexander McCall Smith on Corduroy Mansions

When I started writing serial novels in newspapers six years ago, I had no idea that the whole business would rapidly become addictive. My initial foray into this genre of fiction began after a conversation with Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City, which was a saga of life in San Francisco that ran to several volumes. The idea was implanted of starting a daily novel set in Edinburgh, and a few months later I embarked on 44 Scotland Street. After five years of producing a chapter a day for six months of the year, I decided to give Edinburgh a rest for a while and start a tale set in London. Corduroy Mansions, published each day in the online edition of The Daily Telegraph, was the result.

Like any saga, there is a story--but it is not a complicated one. These stories are character-based: what interests me is what makes the characters tick rather than intricate and potentially confusing plots.

There are quite a lot of characters in the story, many of them occupying a rather run-down block of flats in Pimlico that gives its name to the series. We are introduced to William French, a wine merchant who has just turned fifty, but who is in denial about that. He is a widower with a dreadful son, Eddie, who sees no reason to leave a comfortable home and set up independently, in spite of every encouragement by his father. William is admired by Marcia, a caterer who would like to marry him--or anybody really.

William lives at the top of the building. On the floor below is a shared flat lived in by four young women. One of these, Dee, runs a vitamin and health food shop not far away and is a keen exponent of alternative medicine in its various guises, and in particular of colonic irrigation. Then there is Caroline, who is studying for a master’s degree in fine art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Caroline is fond of James, who is doing the same course as she is. James is very artistic, with a particular interest in the work of the French artist, Nicolas Poussin. James likes Caroline a great deal, but is unsure as to what his real proclivities are. Caroline is optimistic that she can confirm him in the direction she would like him to take, that is as one who is interested in women, but will she succeed?

William, at least, is quite unambiguous in that department: he wants to find a woman. His long-time friend Marcia, however, thinks she just may be his match. In the meantime, William has for company a remarkable dog, Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico Terrier.

Then there is Oedipus Snark, a Liberal Democrat MP. He is so unpleasant that his mother, Berthea Snark, is writing his unauthorized biography in which she has the intention of dishing every bit of dirt on her son that she can muster. Berthea is the sister of the mystically-inclined Terence Moongrove, an exponent of Bulgarian sacred dance and the unexpected driver of a Porsche.

That is probably all that one needs to know. But even if one cannot be bothered to absorb even those few facts, the story will, I hope, be abundantly clear. This is light social comedy, I suppose, but while I admit that the whole point of the exercise is for the reader to have fun, I hope in this story, nonetheless, to say something about how we live and about how finding love and meaning in the very small things of life may transform us, may make our ordinary lives more bearable.

About the Author:

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over fifteen million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, and the Von Igelfeld series. Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Welcome to Corduroy Mansions in Pimlico: a temple of Arts and Crafts architecture, with comforting, weathered brickwork and frankly frivolous dormer windows, it is home to a delightfully eccentric cast of Londoners.In the top flat lives William, with a faithful ex-vegetarian dog named Freddie de la Hay and a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest. Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including twinset-and-pearls Caroline from Cheltenham, Dee, vitamin addict and avid subscriber to Anti-oxidant News, and Jenny, a put-upon PA. And round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP, possibly the world s only loathsome Lib Dem, who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows, and many others besides. But what dark revenge is being plotted by his mother, Berthea Snark, and by his girlfriend, Barbara Ragg.?. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780349122397

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Welcome to Corduroy Mansions in Pimlico: a temple of Arts and Crafts architecture, with comforting, weathered brickwork and frankly frivolous dormer windows, it is home to a delightfully eccentric cast of Londoners.In the top flat lives William, with a faithful ex-vegetarian dog named Freddie de la Hay and a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest. Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including twinset-and-pearls Caroline from Cheltenham, Dee, vitamin addict and avid subscriber to Anti-oxidant News, and Jenny, a put-upon PA. And round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP, possibly the world s only loathsome Lib Dem, who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows, and many others besides. But what dark revenge is being plotted by his mother, Berthea Snark, and by his girlfriend, Barbara Ragg.?. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780349122397

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Book Description Abacus. Book Condition: New. 2010. 1St Edition. Paperback. *The new London-based series from Alexander McCall Smith, comparable in warmth and humour to 44 Scotland Street Series: Corduroy Mansions. Num Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 196 x 128 x 21. Weight in Grams: 254. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780349122397

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