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A delightful new setting - London - wonderful new cast of characters and one incredibly clever dog. Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant Willia A delightful new setting - London - wonderful new cast of characters and one incredibly clever dog. Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant William, who is trying to convince his reluctant twenty-four-year-old son, Eddie, to leave the nest; and Marcia, the boutique caterer who has her sights set on William. There's also the (justifiably) much-loathed Member of Parliament Oedipus Snark; his mother, Berthea, who's writing his biography and hating every minute of it; and his long-suffering girlfriend, Barbara, a literary agent who would like to be his wife (but, then, she'd like to be almost anyone's wife). There's the vitamin evangelist, the psychoanalyst, the art student with a puzzling boyfriend and Freddie de la Hay, the Pimlico terrier who insists on wearing a seat belt and is almost certainly the only avowed vegetarian canine in London. Filled with the ins and outs of neighborliness in all its unexpected variations, Corduroy Mansions showcases the life, laughter and humanity that have become the hallmarks of Alexander McCall Smith's work.


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A delightful new setting - London - wonderful new cast of characters and one incredibly clever dog. Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant Willia A delightful new setting - London - wonderful new cast of characters and one incredibly clever dog. Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant William, who is trying to convince his reluctant twenty-four-year-old son, Eddie, to leave the nest; and Marcia, the boutique caterer who has her sights set on William. There's also the (justifiably) much-loathed Member of Parliament Oedipus Snark; his mother, Berthea, who's writing his biography and hating every minute of it; and his long-suffering girlfriend, Barbara, a literary agent who would like to be his wife (but, then, she'd like to be almost anyone's wife). There's the vitamin evangelist, the psychoanalyst, the art student with a puzzling boyfriend and Freddie de la Hay, the Pimlico terrier who insists on wearing a seat belt and is almost certainly the only avowed vegetarian canine in London. Filled with the ins and outs of neighborliness in all its unexpected variations, Corduroy Mansions showcases the life, laughter and humanity that have become the hallmarks of Alexander McCall Smith's work.

30 review for Corduroy Mansions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This a London version of the author's 44 Scotland Street. It has the usual array of typical McCall Smith characters, the quirky, the eccentric, the horrendous and a dog that steals the show. They live in the flats and we get a look at their lives, relationships and problems. William is a wine merchant, who gets Freddie de la Hay, our seat belt wearing and vegetarian terrier with the aim of nudging his son, Eddie, to leave home. Marcia hankers after William and there are the young women who flat This a London version of the author's 44 Scotland Street. It has the usual array of typical McCall Smith characters, the quirky, the eccentric, the horrendous and a dog that steals the show. They live in the flats and we get a look at their lives, relationships and problems. William is a wine merchant, who gets Freddie de la Hay, our seat belt wearing and vegetarian terrier with the aim of nudging his son, Eddie, to leave home. Marcia hankers after William and there are the young women who flat share. We have a suitably horrendous MP, with a name to die for, Oedipus Snark, who is so blasted awful that even his mother cannot stand him. An entertaining and humorous book but not in my view as good as 44 Scotland Street. Thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    'Corduroy Mansions' is an apartment building in Pimlico that houses an eclectic group of people. The story revolves around the building's residents as well as their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.....and recounts entertaining anecdotes about the various characters. For example, William, who lives on the top floor of Corduroy Mansions, is a fiftyish wine shop owner who'd prefer to think of himself as forty-eightish. William is frustrated with his n'er do well son Eddie - a twentysomething 'Corduroy Mansions' is an apartment building in Pimlico that houses an eclectic group of people. The story revolves around the building's residents as well as their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.....and recounts entertaining anecdotes about the various characters. For example, William, who lives on the top floor of Corduroy Mansions, is a fiftyish wine shop owner who'd prefer to think of himself as forty-eightish. William is frustrated with his n'er do well son Eddie - a twentysomething who has no job, plays loud music, and sponges off his dad. In an attempt to get allergic Eddie to move out William takes in a dog, Freddie de la Hay, an affectionate fellow who gets involved in various sorts of mayhem. Meanwhile, William's platonic lady friend Marcia has designs on the reluctant wine merchant and Eddie has a 'bit of fun' that endangers poor Freddie's life. A group of young women share the middle floor apartment. One of them, Jenny, is an assistant to a self-absorbed, oily politician named Oedipus who makes up ludicrous excuses to avoid each and every social interaction he's invited to. For instance, invited to a function six months away Oedipus responds that he'll be busy - attending a funeral. Oedipus is so unlikable that his own mother, Berthea, can't stand him. Another roommate, art student Caroline, is toying with the idea of a romantic relationship with her friend James, who's not sure if he's gay or not. And Dee, who runs a health/nutrition shop, obtusely insists her young male assistant needs a colonic cleanse - which she'll administer. Then there's Terence (Berthea's brother), a sweet but hapless fellow who drives his antique car at about eight mph. When Terrence accidently fries the car's engine he decides to get a high-powered Porsche - with predictable (and unpredictable) consequences. And so on. The story is filled with entertaining characters and humorous stories. Highly recommended for light reading. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    2020 edit, TEN YEARS LATER: Yes it's clearly a series but it was sold to me as a standalone book and I was annoyed about it A DECADE AGO. 2010 review: This book was charming, fun and silly and enjoyable all the way through - RIGHT UP UNTIL THE END. What happened there? I bought this book as part of some special offer in a bookstore because a) I recently enjoyed the first book of his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and b) it was really cheap. But even the cheapness of the book does not m 2020 edit, TEN YEARS LATER: Yes it's clearly a series but it was sold to me as a standalone book and I was annoyed about it A DECADE AGO. 2010 review: This book was charming, fun and silly and enjoyable all the way through - RIGHT UP UNTIL THE END. What happened there? I bought this book as part of some special offer in a bookstore because a) I recently enjoyed the first book of his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and b) it was really cheap. But even the cheapness of the book does not make how irritated I am about this alright. I haven't read any of the 44 Scotland Street series, but Corduroy Mansions is based on the same kind of principal of people living in flats in a building. Is Corduroy Mansions the first in a series, like 44 Scotland Street? Because if it is, then I suppose his complete lack of resolution towards almost all of the characters could possibly be tolerated, if not exactly enjoyed. But it seemed to me to be a stand alone book - and seemed from the blurbs and reviews - and just a one-off. Anyway. You made me cross, Alexander McCall Smith. I was enjoying your fun little book until the very end. So what revenge were the ex-girlfriend and ex-employee planning to get on the MP? What are the secret that the accountant downstairs is hiding? Do William and Marcia get together? Help a sister out, here. If this is the first in a series, why wasn't it made clear that it was? I'm not reading the rest out of principal. So there.

  4. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    ‘Corduroy Mansions’ struck me as a stream-of-consciousness cozy! Experiment? I wouldn’t be surprised. Whatever the readers’ opinion of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing, uneducated provincial dullard is not where he is coming from, despite the fact his books’ characters are mostly provincial and dull. He demonstrates sly erudite intelligence in both of the series I have read. Smith strikes me as very aware of the limitations of his characters and their simple outlook on life, but he apparently lo ‘Corduroy Mansions’ struck me as a stream-of-consciousness cozy! Experiment? I wouldn’t be surprised. Whatever the readers’ opinion of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing, uneducated provincial dullard is not where he is coming from, despite the fact his books’ characters are mostly provincial and dull. He demonstrates sly erudite intelligence in both of the series I have read. Smith strikes me as very aware of the limitations of his characters and their simple outlook on life, but he apparently loves them as much as he reveals their defects. Anybody who knows me is aware of my worst defect: I hate provincial simple-minded dullard characters in real life as well as fictional protagonists (I pat myself on the back every time I restrain myself from screaming abuse at them, another defect I willingly own). Smith allows me to like them, if not love them. I tip my hat to Smith in respect. Because the other series I read is a cozy about an African detective, I was expecting another cozy mystery series, but with London as the location for the ‘action’. However, this novel is what I would categorize as a quainted-up slice of middle-class neighborhood life, photoshopped and PG-abridged, where a group of connected individuals go about existence in a pleasant glass-half-full fugue, making the best of things. Bad stuff happens, but inevitably, these characters come out the other side with their happy faces intact, usually because the impending disaster either is resolved on its own or a friend or group of friends intervene. Smith’s books do not avoid sex-violence-evil, but he writes such scenes in extremely mild, brief, heavily-edited, euphemistically-expressed versions. I admit that maybe my depressive sarcastic angry personality might be improved if I thought in such terms - but I don’t. So, why am I reading this helium-light novel? One, it was sitting on my bookshelf, probably something I picked up years ago on recommendation from one of my sunnier acquaintances. Two, I DID enjoy the lady detective series that Smith wrote. Third, I’m a sucker for stories about pets, even dogs. Unfortunately, Freddie de la Hay, the Pimlico terrier that is acquired by the main protagonist, William, a wine merchant, is not around in many scenes, although his adoption causes a lot of big changes in William’s life (I use the term ‘big’ because they would have been huge dramas in any other genre, but in cozies the action tends to told in emotional tones similar to buying a new purse). William lives in a flat at the top of a London 4-story apartment building. His family, friends and neighbors, particularly a group of 4 young girls, drive the domestic dramas. They are all currently unmarried, so there are plenty of opportunities for anxious hookups - hoped-for and messed up. The girls are starting jobs or are students, but since they are basically good girls, the mischief comes from bad bosses or bad boyfriends. William has a thug son, Eddie, but he is never described directly as evil as he obviously is. (view spoiler)[ In payback, he steals Freddie de la Hay from his father’s apartment and deliberately enters the mild gentle dog in a dog-fighting contest because William, in a round-a-bout accident, kicked the 27-year-old out of his flat, something he has wanted to do for years. (hide spoiler)] . William’s wife died, but while he misses her, he is not a man to have regrets. He works at being the most mild-mannered and inoffensive person in the world; in fact, emasculated would be too strong a word to use to describe William because that indicates an actual force of personality ever existed to be excised. Reluctantly, I intend to read the next two books in the series simply because I own them and they are also sitting on my bookshelves. Otherwise, sorry, I would not continue with this series.

  5. 5 out of 5

    SheriC (PM)

    It started out well, with a quirky cast of characters and funny little observations about people and the world in general. But it never gelled as a story, and many characters ended up feeling like having a houseful of guests who are at first amusing, then tiresome, then annoying, and who won't take the hint to leave. The clumsy attempt to tie together the characters' storylines failed, and half the plot points hinted at in the first half of the book went nowhere, and worst of all, every single f It started out well, with a quirky cast of characters and funny little observations about people and the world in general. But it never gelled as a story, and many characters ended up feeling like having a houseful of guests who are at first amusing, then tiresome, then annoying, and who won't take the hint to leave. The clumsy attempt to tie together the characters' storylines failed, and half the plot points hinted at in the first half of the book went nowhere, and worst of all, every single female character (5 of them) revolved around their desperate need for men. In the end, the only character I could even work up an interest in was the dog.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I almost gave this one star. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I got more and more annoyed with Smith's lazy, incomplete, plotting, and archaic point of view. Maybe the incomplete plotting was deliberate since this seems to be the first in a series, but there is no way I am going to pick up any more in this series (and perhaps any more AMS) just to find out what happens. Biggest problem is the way that Smith's straight white malehood makes it impossible for him to write a female characte I almost gave this one star. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I got more and more annoyed with Smith's lazy, incomplete, plotting, and archaic point of view. Maybe the incomplete plotting was deliberate since this seems to be the first in a series, but there is no way I am going to pick up any more in this series (and perhaps any more AMS) just to find out what happens. Biggest problem is the way that Smith's straight white malehood makes it impossible for him to write a female character that isn't somehow drafting behind, attached to, or otherwise wrapped up in the life of some man. I found this particularly galling with story line where the LSE-educated Jenny takes up a job in William's wine shop after she is fired by her MP boss. Essentially William saved the damsel in distress by offering her a menial job for which she has no training. Then flash forward to art historian Caroline who is saved by Tim who offers her a menial job as his photography assistant--for which she has no training. And then there is Barbara whose life is crap because of man only to be transformed instantly when she meets another man. It just goes on and on. Smith never met a woman who couldn't be saved by a man.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Not terrible, but not interesting enough to continue reading the series. I will stick to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency from Mr. McCall Smith, which I am really enjoying so far.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Another great series from Alexander McCall Smith. I'm a little late to the party, as this was published in 2010. If you enjoyed the 44 Scotland Street series, you'll like this one too. The format is very similar in that there are 100 vignettes, each focusing on one or two characters living in a building in London. There is art, love, ethical dilemmas, psychology, humor, family, friendship, and community. It is interesting, but nothing earthshaking or horrible happens, as is the case with all of Another great series from Alexander McCall Smith. I'm a little late to the party, as this was published in 2010. If you enjoyed the 44 Scotland Street series, you'll like this one too. The format is very similar in that there are 100 vignettes, each focusing on one or two characters living in a building in London. There is art, love, ethical dilemmas, psychology, humor, family, friendship, and community. It is interesting, but nothing earthshaking or horrible happens, as is the case with all of AMS's books. (I just wish he wrote the script for the world as a whole and for America in particular right now, but as he is quite prolific, I forgive him 😀) Oh, and there is a key dog character in this, just as in the Scotland Street series, as you'll note from the cover. The audiobook narration by Simon Prebble is also terrific. I'll be jumping into the second of the series soon. God bless your pen, typewriter, computer, and mind, AMS! Long may you wave. ❤️

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    I started to write that I didn't know what was so entrancing and comforting about this book, but then I realized that's incorrect. I know exactly what makes these books, largely plot-less, so attractive. Following the lives of these quirky, interesting, and interconnected people is exactly as satisfying as a long phone call with your mom, catching up on the gossip from back home. This book is largely interesting for the characters in it. Nothing earth-shattering happens (with one exception), but I started to write that I didn't know what was so entrancing and comforting about this book, but then I realized that's incorrect. I know exactly what makes these books, largely plot-less, so attractive. Following the lives of these quirky, interesting, and interconnected people is exactly as satisfying as a long phone call with your mom, catching up on the gossip from back home. This book is largely interesting for the characters in it. Nothing earth-shattering happens (with one exception), but the ins and outs of their lives make fairly compelling, very comforting reading. Though I can easily imagine people who would be bored silly by this book, I quite enjoyed it. The only exception was one stomach-dropping moment where dog fighting came up as a plot point. I do not think McCall Smith treated it with nearly the gravity such a foul, horrifying, unhuman "sport" it is, and treated it, a bit lightly, as evidence of mild moral decay in one of its characters, not as a serious sin it actually is.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    Scotland Street comes to London! Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh-based daily series for The Scotsman is being replicated south of the border, this time published in the Telegraph online and set in Pimlico. Just like 44 Scotland Street, Corduroy Mansions is split into flats - the top flat inhabited bynny William the wine merchant (Master of Wine, failed), the middle one by four young women (Caroline, Dee, Jenny and Jo), and the ground floor by accountant Basil Wickramsinghe. William is keen to Scotland Street comes to London! Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh-based daily series for The Scotsman is being replicated south of the border, this time published in the Telegraph online and set in Pimlico. Just like 44 Scotland Street, Corduroy Mansions is split into flats - the top flat inhabited bynny William the wine merchant (Master of Wine, failed), the middle one by four young women (Caroline, Dee, Jenny and Jo), and the ground floor by accountant Basil Wickramsinghe. William is keen to get rid of his wastrel son Eddie from the flat, but the means of achieving this seem to launch him from the frying pan into the fire with the arrival of Marcia, who has her sights firmly set on him, and the acquisition of a dog, Freddie de la Hay. Jenny works as PA to Oedipus Snark, possibly the only unpleasant Liberal Democrat MP (can such a thing be?). Jo is William's assistant in the wine shop, while Dee manages a health supplements shop and Caroline is an art student. We also meet Oedipus' mother Berthea, Oedipus' girlfriend and literary agent Barbara Ragg,and a whole host of other characters. The familiar McCall Smith elements are here - the day-to-day of human relationships, dogs, art, food and drink, psychotherapy - and if you enjoyed 44 Scotland Street you'll enjoy this too. There's no child at Corduroy Mansions, unlike Scotland Street's wonderful Bertie, but the adults provide entertainment aplenty.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    The first in a new series launched by Alexander McCall Smith. I have to ask--does this man sleep? This book is set in the Pimlico neighborhood of London in a cozy, yet slightly decrepit, building divided into flats. The usual quirky cast of characters are featured--William, the middle-aged widower who runs a wine shop and is trying to convince his 24 year old son to move out; several young girls who share the second floor flat; and the accountant on the first floor. There's also an obnoxious mem The first in a new series launched by Alexander McCall Smith. I have to ask--does this man sleep? This book is set in the Pimlico neighborhood of London in a cozy, yet slightly decrepit, building divided into flats. The usual quirky cast of characters are featured--William, the middle-aged widower who runs a wine shop and is trying to convince his 24 year old son to move out; several young girls who share the second floor flat; and the accountant on the first floor. There's also an obnoxious member of Parliament who has employed one of the occupants of Corduroy Mansions and his mother (who loathes him) and who is writing her son's biography in an effort to understand her feelings for him. And there is a host of others. Of course, the star of the show is Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico terrier, who is on loan to William in an odd pet-sharing scheme. Freddie has the potential to take over the series. He's intuitive, expressive, curious, insists on wearing a seat-belt, and is a vegetarian. Love you, Freddie. This series reminds me very much of the 44 Scotland Street series and is appealing in it's gentle look at life as it affects the residents of Corduroy Mansions.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda Atnip

    I found the setting and descriptions of life in London fun to read. It was quick and breezy and had the feeling of a male version of chick-lit. However, I would have preferred fewer characters to keep up with and found some of the interplay forced. For instance, I would've eliminated the accountant who didn't really bring anything to the table until perhaps the end of the book. It felt like he was dangling there with no reason for being introduced. After discovering this is a series, it made sens I found the setting and descriptions of life in London fun to read. It was quick and breezy and had the feeling of a male version of chick-lit. However, I would have preferred fewer characters to keep up with and found some of the interplay forced. For instance, I would've eliminated the accountant who didn't really bring anything to the table until perhaps the end of the book. It felt like he was dangling there with no reason for being introduced. After discovering this is a series, it made sense why there were so many plots left unresolved. So, it seems I'll need to read on ... After all, the terrier had me @ "Sit"!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen ⊰✿

    Delightful book with really no beginning or end as it simply travels through a slice of time following a group of diverse individuals who just happen to live, or visit someone who lives, in the same building in London. This is a character driven novel with plenty of humour and poignant moments and I found myself generally smiling throughout and interested in what the characters were doing next. Lovely book and I will cotinue following the characer's lives in book 2 Delightful book with really no beginning or end as it simply travels through a slice of time following a group of diverse individuals who just happen to live, or visit someone who lives, in the same building in London. This is a character driven novel with plenty of humour and poignant moments and I found myself generally smiling throughout and interested in what the characters were doing next. Lovely book and I will cotinue following the characer's lives in book 2

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathe

    Sometimes you just want a light read. Nothing too taxing, but not trashy either. Something well written, with interesting and amusing characters whose adventures you enjoy following. Enter, stage left - or in this case, online - Alexander McCall Smith. Corduroy Mansions is the first book in the fifth series from the astoundingly prolific Scottish author, who dabbles in medical law in his spare(?) time. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, chronicles the life of the wonderfu Sometimes you just want a light read. Nothing too taxing, but not trashy either. Something well written, with interesting and amusing characters whose adventures you enjoy following. Enter, stage left - or in this case, online - Alexander McCall Smith. Corduroy Mansions is the first book in the fifth series from the astoundingly prolific Scottish author, who dabbles in medical law in his spare(?) time. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, chronicles the life of the wonderful Mma Ramotswe. The Portuguese Irregular Verbs books, my least favourite of his series, involve pompous German professors. I love The Sunday Philosophy Club, starring journal editor Isobel Dalhousie and set in Edinburgh. (I'm still trying to forgive Smith for stealing the title of my forthcoming memoir, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate... but then I'm still at the research stage.) In 2004, Smith started to write the 44 Scotland Street series, which was published in installments every weekday in The Scotsman Newspaper. This latest, Corduroy Mansions, was published online in 2008, with 100 installments, rather à la Dickens. The premise is not original: we follow the interlocking adventures of the occupants of an apartment building, in this case Corduroy Mansions in London. Smith is in fine form, creating characters like Oedipus Snark, MP (the son of psychoanalyst Berthea Snark - a psychoanalyst who names her son Oedipus?!); widowed wine merchant William French, his peculiar son Eddie and his wonderful dog Freddie de la Hay; and Caroline, Dee, Jenny and Jo, who share a flat. When I looked up Corduroy Mansions after finishing it early this morning, I discovered that there are two more "volumes" in this series, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold and A Conspiracy of Friends. (Yes, Smith has a huge talent for creating titles, as witness Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, The Charming Quirks of Others and The Unbearable Lightness of Scones.) I think I paid $1.99 for this first volume in a Kobo sale, but apparently the subsequent books are available online free. I liked the characters enormously - quirky, but believable - and inhaled the book in a weekend. I'm still wondering what happens to Freddie, Barbara Ragg (a literary agent and the ex-girlfriend of the odious MP), Terence Moongrove, Berthea's brother, a hapless sort who acquired a Porsche thinking it was the same car as a Peugeot, et al. I like Smith's tangential style - I'm that way inclined myself. I suspect The Dog Who Came in from the Cold and A Conspiracy of Friends will soon be added to my summer reading list.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Not a bad book, but sort of like a casserole with your least favorite vegtable mixed in. Lots of different characters, some of whom I loved and others I didn't care at all for. Which meant at least half the book I was flipping through just to get to parts that were more enjoyable. I don't know how this author can write a series I love, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and yet all his other writings leave me underwhelmed. This book also had several long passages that felt like Smith was just ra Not a bad book, but sort of like a casserole with your least favorite vegtable mixed in. Lots of different characters, some of whom I loved and others I didn't care at all for. Which meant at least half the book I was flipping through just to get to parts that were more enjoyable. I don't know how this author can write a series I love, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and yet all his other writings leave me underwhelmed. This book also had several long passages that felt like Smith was just rambling, using the pages to vent whatever philosophical clutter was on his mind. Loved the dog though!! Truthfully, the dog was what made me give the book 3 stars and what will make me read the next in the series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Roll

    Oh dear, I am afraid that I just cannot persuade myself to like Mr. McCall Smiths writing. This is the second series of his I've tried and he is just not to my taste. Other readers have called the characters in this book charming and eccentric. I mainly found them to be either boring or downright unlikeable. I also found that the characters read as much older than their stated age. One character is 31 and yet until I was told her age I assumed we were dealing with a middle aged woman. She certai Oh dear, I am afraid that I just cannot persuade myself to like Mr. McCall Smiths writing. This is the second series of his I've tried and he is just not to my taste. Other readers have called the characters in this book charming and eccentric. I mainly found them to be either boring or downright unlikeable. I also found that the characters read as much older than their stated age. One character is 31 and yet until I was told her age I assumed we were dealing with a middle aged woman. She certainly dose not act like any 31 year old I've known, ever. I also didn't find this book to be particularly satiric but perhaps I, as the reader, need broader satire. For know I'll stick with P.G. Wodehouse and Connie Willis for my dose of British satire.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    I'll read this when I'm done with "Henry Esmond." A friend of mine is a big fan of the author so I'll give him a try. A busy and late day kept me away from reading yesterday, but I managed to read into this a ways. So far it's amusing and breezy, but not exactly a page-turner. The initial conversation with Freddie's owner is pretty funny. Mr. rude, self-absorbed and clueless ... Will there be a mystery? I don't even know ... Just when I was wondering what this book might be about, along comes(emer I'll read this when I'm done with "Henry Esmond." A friend of mine is a big fan of the author so I'll give him a try. A busy and late day kept me away from reading yesterday, but I managed to read into this a ways. So far it's amusing and breezy, but not exactly a page-turner. The initial conversation with Freddie's owner is pretty funny. Mr. rude, self-absorbed and clueless ... Will there be a mystery? I don't even know ... Just when I was wondering what this book might be about, along comes(emerges) a theme: the challenges people face in making connections with each other. Fair enough ... Bringing a doggie on board can't but help things along(entertainment-wise) of course. Another "villain" - Eddie - has emerged via the act of dog kicking - HISSSSSSSS! The brush strokes can get rather broad here and credibility suffers for it: 1) What adult non-retarded male would try to charge a car battery using a direct connection to a wall outlet and the attachment of stripped extension cord wires. Unbelievably(literally) stupid. ... 2) What even vaguely adult thirty-something woman would invite an (admittedly cute)young hitchhiker into her apartment for sex and then invite him to move in with her. 3) The caricatures of both men(aloof, stubborn, clueless, self-absorbed) and women(pushy, controlling, needy, obsessed with appearances and a bit less clueless) are a strain as well. 4) WHY does William conclude on no evidence whatsoever that the painting is stolen? Because of plot necessity, that's why. - a bit of resemblance to "The Goldfinch" - NOT a good thing. - Note to Caroline - Stop! with the expectations and control. Finished this morning(the 4th of July) during what would normally have been library time. The ending is a bit open-ended as there are several plot threads left dangling. There is a sequel(of course). Will I read it/them? Probably not. The stuff in this book is entertaining enough I suppose, but overall the thing kind of rambles about to not much purpose. For a hard-headed reader like me there's too much illogic and fluff. Much of the fluff is fun enough, but ... Just one example of dubious credibility: Eddie passes from being extremely annoying to outright criminal nastiness when he deliberately puts Freddie's life in peril(I guess kicking him wasn't enough), but at the end William seems to think (mostly)nothing of it. Makes NO SENSE! There's plenty more, but I don't have my notes with me at work. Tomorrow ... - a perfect 2.75* book - rounds up to a slight overrating of 3*. - reminds of "Monsieur Pamplemousse"(sp?), another book with an awkward sense of humor. - William the Wimp needs to tell Marcia to get the bleep out of his space and stop telling him what to do! - AMS likesto write meandering. somewhat amusing but also somewhat annoying and pointless conversation(s). Dude! It's a novel! - What's the point of including Hugh's rambling(get to the point!) S.A. story if you don't let him finish it! A cheat ... - Vis-a-vis the painting - does no one have a computer? I don't think the word was used in the entire book. - Another connection just occurred to me. A lighter-hearted Anita Brookner? Iris Murdoch?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I found this book a bit disappointing, I just couldn't get into it. I loved Freddie de la Hay but I couldn't take to any of the other characters. I found this book a bit disappointing, I just couldn't get into it. I loved Freddie de la Hay but I couldn't take to any of the other characters.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Listened to as an audiobook. Series jumps around from character to character but still entertaining.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    A dog with a surname is a rare breed. Freddie de la Hay, a terrier of the rare if not mythical Pimlico variety is no exception. His mannerisms seem almost human (he’s even a vegetarian), yet Freddie finds human motivations rather inscrutable. In this first book of McCall Smith’s trilogy, Freddie joins new owner William, a middle aged wine merchant, in Corduroy Mansions. The abode is comfortable, and not quite as posh as Tweed Mansions might be. William inhabits the top floor with his 24-year old A dog with a surname is a rare breed. Freddie de la Hay, a terrier of the rare if not mythical Pimlico variety is no exception. His mannerisms seem almost human (he’s even a vegetarian), yet Freddie finds human motivations rather inscrutable. In this first book of McCall Smith’s trilogy, Freddie joins new owner William, a middle aged wine merchant, in Corduroy Mansions. The abode is comfortable, and not quite as posh as Tweed Mansions might be. William inhabits the top floor with his 24-year old son Eddie, who he can’t seem to convince to move out and live on his own. Marcia, an upscale caterer, sees her friend William as ripe for remarriage—if only she could convince him of that. Four young women inhabit the bottom floor, including an art history student with a not-really boyfriend and a health nut with a slight obsession with colonic cleansing. Another of the girls works for MP Oedipus Snark, who is just as odious as his name. Oedipus’ mother Berthea is writing her son’s unauthorized biography to expose his corruption, while tending to her brother Terence, who has a weak grasp on reality and strong ties to a sacred dance community. The mysterious Basil Wickramsinghe inhabits the middle floor. He seems to be involved in some sort of secret society. Several other characters come and go throughout the book. “But is there any plot to speak of?” asks my husband after listening to the audiobook. True, most of the book is a series of character vignettes, and not all that much changes in the characters’ lives. It is fair to say that William and Eddie’s relationship evolves, as does William and Marcia’s, and Freddie de la Hay instigates some pivotal moments in the plot. But mostly the book is about a plethora of eccentric characters and how they interact in their day-to-day activities. The setting is familiar to those used to apartment living in big cities like London, and the writing style is droll and chuckle-worthy. Not all of the loose ends are wrapped up at the end. I suspect that these will be resolved in books 2 and 3. Simon Prebble reads this unabridged version of the audiobook most elegantly. British-born stage and television actor and narrator of over 300 audiobooks, his comic timing is perfect. His accent is essential in conveying precisely the characteristic silly-seriousness of fellow Brit McCall Smith’s writing. For this reason I recommend the audiobook over the written version. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith and readers who like character-driven fiction in a humorous vein will want to read this book. People who appreciate the British tendency to understate the eccentric and absurd will enjoy it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Austen to Zafón

    Ah...how I love reading McCall Smith's books, especially his serials. Like the 44 Scotland Street series, in which the characters live in a building of flats, the Corduroy Mansions series is also based in a building of flats, but in London instead of Edinburgh. The concept of both 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions is based on Charles Dickens’ episodic writing, in which novels were serialized through weekly or monthly journals. McCall Smith pursued this method of writing following a meetin Ah...how I love reading McCall Smith's books, especially his serials. Like the 44 Scotland Street series, in which the characters live in a building of flats, the Corduroy Mansions series is also based in a building of flats, but in London instead of Edinburgh. The concept of both 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions is based on Charles Dickens’ episodic writing, in which novels were serialized through weekly or monthly journals. McCall Smith pursued this method of writing following a meeting with San Francisco novelist Armistead Maupin. 44 Scotland Street was serialised in installments *every weekday* (does this man ever rest?) through The Scotsman newspaper. But Corduroy Mansions was released online, so readers could interact with each other and the author through online discussion boards. My favorite character in this book is Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico Terrier (no such breed) acquired by a father who is trying to get his dog-fearing, 24-year-old layabout son to move out. Freddie is a consummate scene stealer, funny and practically a mind-reader. It's clear McCall Smith loves dogs and has a lot of opinions about how they should and shouldn't be treated. In fact, McCall Smith generally uses his writing to air his views (and he has many!) on human behavior, philosophy, morality, politics, and our relationship to children and animals, among other things. While I don't agree with him all of the time, I love his characters. His sympathetic characters (which is most of them) think. They think a lot. About the world and their place in it, about art and literature, about food and wine, about what it means to be happy, to have a friend, to age. And they talk about these things too. They have gentle foibles and they are not averse to seeing them. These are my people. There's not much action. There's not much in the way of outbursts or sassiness or depressing pasts. Just ordinary people funbling through their days, portrayed with compassion and humor. If a flat opens up at 44 Scotland Street or Corduroy Mansions, I'll be packing up my family and applying for visas.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Have you ever walked down a city street and wondered about the people living in the buildings you pass? McCall Smith gives us a view into the lives of a cast of characters from the Pimlico neighborhood in London. While the book lacks a sweeping plot, it is made up of a series of vignettes featuring the various characters. We meet William, the 50-something wine merchant. And Berthea Snark, the psycho-analyst who hates her son Oedipus. And Freddie de la Hay, a vegetarian terrier. And a whole host o Have you ever walked down a city street and wondered about the people living in the buildings you pass? McCall Smith gives us a view into the lives of a cast of characters from the Pimlico neighborhood in London. While the book lacks a sweeping plot, it is made up of a series of vignettes featuring the various characters. We meet William, the 50-something wine merchant. And Berthea Snark, the psycho-analyst who hates her son Oedipus. And Freddie de la Hay, a vegetarian terrier. And a whole host of other characters. McCall Smith's characters are from from perfect, which makes them both realistic and empathetic. We see their strengths and their weaknesses played out throughout the book, in stories that seem somewhat disconnected at first, but that McCall Smith manages to weave together. While many of the characters are unknown to one another, the reader gets a real sense of connectedness, a sense that the world (and indeed a city like London) really is a small place. Through the musings of the characters, the reader can explore their own thoughts on topics that range from the mundane (the etiquette of taking wine to a dinner party) to the serious (inter-generational relations, impact of technology on society). By the end of this book, the characters will feel like old friends. Fortunately, McCall Smith lays the foundation for what will hopefully be the next book in this series.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Another Horatian satire from A. McCall Smith. He can look at apartments and a neighborhood in London and imagine the lives of characters who all have gentle foibles. A cast-off dog (named Freddie de la Hay) with super-human sensitivity adds to the mix. There are so many plot lines that, towards the end of the book, I wondered how the author would tie things up neatly for me. He didn't (because there are other books in the series), but there is this toast, given by middle-aged wine merchant Willi Another Horatian satire from A. McCall Smith. He can look at apartments and a neighborhood in London and imagine the lives of characters who all have gentle foibles. A cast-off dog (named Freddie de la Hay) with super-human sensitivity adds to the mix. There are so many plot lines that, towards the end of the book, I wondered how the author would tie things up neatly for me. He didn't (because there are other books in the series), but there is this toast, given by middle-aged wine merchant William French, on the last page: Dear friends, now in London Here and there, in their various forms Of isolation or companionship, People begin a journey into night; Happy they go to bed, or sad-- The choice to a very great extent Is theirs. Happiness is a state Which few can define-- I shall not try--but even those Who never attempt a definition Know from experience That happiness flows most readily From friendship, from the company Of those we would rather not Be without: a double negative Is a way of saying that which You really believe: And I believe that, I really do. Friendship is a guise of love, And love is friendship Dressed up for a night out. That we are together, here at this moment, Alive, one with another, Is the most delicious treat; I, for one, ask for no more, I, for one, am replete.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stig

    This is the first volume in a new series by Alexander McCall Smith, somewhat reminiscent of his 44 Scotland Street books, but set in London. We are in familiar territory as we follow the inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions – a wine merchant and his scrounger of a son, a Sri Lankan accountant who may have a secret and four girls sharing a flat – and their various friends and acquaintances as their lives intertwine. There are some marvelous characters here, not least Oedipus Snark, described as the w This is the first volume in a new series by Alexander McCall Smith, somewhat reminiscent of his 44 Scotland Street books, but set in London. We are in familiar territory as we follow the inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions – a wine merchant and his scrounger of a son, a Sri Lankan accountant who may have a secret and four girls sharing a flat – and their various friends and acquaintances as their lives intertwine. There are some marvelous characters here, not least Oedipus Snark, described as the world's only loathsome LibDem. And oh, he is a stinker! And let's not forget the vegetarian Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay who likes to chew on other things than vegetables. In typical Alexander McCall Smith fashion, things move along nicely and various crises occur, only to be solved in not quite the way you would have expected, though a lot of plotlines are unresolved and will have to wait for the next instalment. A good cozy book to read on a lazy afternoon, and I don't mean that in a condescending way – all McCall Smith's books are cozies in one way or another, and that is their strength. It is a joy to revisit each of his settings, and I look forward to volume two.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    This is an absolutely charming book which, while light-hearted and entertaining, is not cheap sentimentality. I wouldn't make a steady diet out of this series but it is a welcome relief from more serious novels I am generally drawn to. If you appreciate dry British humor, you will enjoy this book. Set in London in a house which is divided by floors into 3 large apartments it follows the residents of the building as they go about their daily lives and face joys and sorrows. Corduroy Mansions is t This is an absolutely charming book which, while light-hearted and entertaining, is not cheap sentimentality. I wouldn't make a steady diet out of this series but it is a welcome relief from more serious novels I am generally drawn to. If you appreciate dry British humor, you will enjoy this book. Set in London in a house which is divided by floors into 3 large apartments it follows the residents of the building as they go about their daily lives and face joys and sorrows. Corduroy Mansions is the name of the house, thus the title. On the top floor lives a man who desperately wants his 24-year old son to move out but can't get him to budge. When all else fails, the dad decides to get a dog because his son hates dogs and he figures this will motivate him to find other lodgings. Hilarity ensues. A perfect book for the beach or that airplane ride. I didn't notice that this book was #1 in a series but that doesn't matter to me. If I am in the mood I will check out the other books sometime, but there's no cliff hanger so I don't feel compelled to pursue it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Philip Walker

    I took this book camping with me, having enjoyed other books by the Author. I wish i had left it at home.. Each character is a carbon copy of the next, there is nothing unique about any, the dialogue of each is identical making it difficult to give individual characters their own voice, and also, the characters are very similar to those in other books by the Author which is particularly disappointing, there seems to have been no imagination when writing this, it is very lazily and poorly written. I took this book camping with me, having enjoyed other books by the Author. I wish i had left it at home.. Each character is a carbon copy of the next, there is nothing unique about any, the dialogue of each is identical making it difficult to give individual characters their own voice, and also, the characters are very similar to those in other books by the Author which is particularly disappointing, there seems to have been no imagination when writing this, it is very lazily and poorly written. Also, if the Author does think that people actually talk the way his characters do, he really should get out a little bit more. The dialogue throughout is unrealistic and "one" would expect more of an effort to made, to recreate a modern community. I would suggest to anyone reading this review, if you Like McCall-Smith give this a miss, it really is uncharacteristically bad.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Magill

    A pleasant little book and, if you like McCall Smith, that is why you read his stuff. No surprises though and, given that the approach has been used for the 44 Scotland Street books, a bit of the shine is off stylistically. At this point, in what will be a series, there are no obvious stars and our aquaintance with the characters is pretty slight. I am looking forward to Snark getting some comeuppance (although McCall Smith style comeuppance tends to be rather gentle) and I was a little taken wi A pleasant little book and, if you like McCall Smith, that is why you read his stuff. No surprises though and, given that the approach has been used for the 44 Scotland Street books, a bit of the shine is off stylistically. At this point, in what will be a series, there are no obvious stars and our aquaintance with the characters is pretty slight. I am looking forward to Snark getting some comeuppance (although McCall Smith style comeuppance tends to be rather gentle) and I was a little taken with Terence and wonder just what he will get into next. All in all, a very quick read; glad I wasn't counting on it for a plane trip as it didn't last very long at all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Love Love Love Alexander McCall Smith. Unfortunately, I had read (or listened to) the 2nd book first (Dog who came in from the cold), so I was very interested in seeing how things started out. Interesting characters, especially the dog. And William, the wine merchant.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    I really love the characters in this series and the gentle humour. I wish it would be continued!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tim Meechan

    Having just finished a nonfiction travelogue of the Congo with it’s currently depressing regression and accompanying atrocities, as well as a fictional account of the warring and bloodshed at the Mexican/American border circa 1850, I was ready for something lite. Both my mother and an elder cousin have been big fans of Alexander McCall Smith. His #1 Ladies Detective Agency being the most recognizable title, and that which helped launch him into popularity. Now that I’ve read my first by him, I ge Having just finished a nonfiction travelogue of the Congo with it’s currently depressing regression and accompanying atrocities, as well as a fictional account of the warring and bloodshed at the Mexican/American border circa 1850, I was ready for something lite. Both my mother and an elder cousin have been big fans of Alexander McCall Smith. His #1 Ladies Detective Agency being the most recognizable title, and that which helped launch him into popularity. Now that I’ve read my first by him, I get it. He has a great skill at creating everyday characters, yet characters that also express a huge range of thought and emotion. In this particular story, AMS gives us a big cast and a plethora of relationships that just miss the mark for true love. Very cleverly executed. This particular book also allowed me to reconnect with my Mom who passed away a few years ago. She had her own Jack Russell Terrier, Milly, and I was given the honor of adopting her after mom was gone. The book’s cover photo of Freddie de la Hay looks so much like her. Combining that connection with a well written story made for a very enjoyable personal experience. I know I only gave it ⭐️⭐️⭐️, but that is due to my belief that I’ll read one or more of his other books that deserve a rating of four or five. Plus, although a pleasant read, I did not find it to have any great life lessons, even accepting this extracted section of a poem by his main character ... Know from experience That happiness flows most readily From friendship, from the company Of those we would rather not Be without ... A relaxing and pleasurable read. Nice!

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