Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Corduroy Mansions

Posted by nliakos on March 15, 2012

by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon 2009)

I love almost everything I’ve read by McCall Smith (despite wondering why, since his name is not hyphenated, his books are shelved under McCall in my local library, rather than under Smith). My favorites are the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, as read by Lisette Lecat, but I’ve read and enjoyed most (all?) of the Isabel Dalhousie series and one or two of the 44 Scotland Street series. (I didn’t like Portuguese Irregular Verbs, despite its delicious title.)

Corduroy Mansions does not appear to belong to a series, but it certainly could. Like 44 Scotland Street, it tells the various stories of the residents of one apartment building (or should I say block of flats, since this one is in London). Since people’s stories go on forever, constantly changing, until they die, McCall Smith (Smith?) would have enough material to keep going. In fact, several of the stories were left hanging at the end.  (How exactly will Barbara Ragg wreak vengeance on former lover Oedipus Snark? Will Terence Moongrove figure out how to drive his new Porsche safely before he kills himself? Will the obnoxious Manfred James  reappear to claim his stake in my favorite character, Freddie de la Hay [a Pimlico terrier]? etc.) I admit I had a little trouble keeping the four young female flatmates straight, and Basil Wickramsinghe did not play much of a role, although he obviously might in a future book. (Actually, I just checked the WIkipedia entry for the book and discovered that a second novel has already appeared! Also that McCall Smith published these two books online in serial form à la Charles Dickens.) Overall, it’s a sweet book and kept my interest over the few days it took to finish it (reading mostly on the bus on my way to and from work).

P.S. I’m one of the many people who has never heard of a Pimlico terrier before. I googled it, but all I find are references to this book, so I am beginning to suspect that A.McC. S invented the breed. Maybe it was an April Fool’s joke.

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