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Corduroy Mansions is the first of the Corduroy Mansions series by Alexander McCall Smith. This novel is along the same style as the 44 Scotland Street series: it was originally published on the Telegraph.co.uk website in daily chapters. The setting here is a run-down block of flats in Pimlico. The residents are William, a wine merchant and his lazy son Eddie; the girls in the first floor flat, Caroline, Jenny, Dee and Jo; and Basil Wickramsinghe. Associated characters are William’s friend, caterer Marcia; Caroline’s friends, fellow student James and photographer Tim Something; Jenny’s boss, MP Oedipus Snark; Oedipus’ girlfriend, publisher Barbara Ragg; Oedipus’ mother, psychologist Berthea and her brother Terence, an enthusiast of Sacred Dance; Barbara Ragg’s partner, Rupert Porter; and, last, but certainly not least, Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico terrier, retrenched airport sniffer dog and eventual companion to William.
I have read criticism of this book that it is the same as 44 Scotland Street. I don’t agree and unless it was word for word and character for character the same, anything written by Alexander McCall Smith is worth reading. His books are about his characters, their foibles and virtues, and their interactions with each other and the world at large. Their comments about people and situations are what makes McCall Smith’s books such a joy to read. His sharp powers of observation of the human race translate to characters and dialogue that we can all identify with, having had those thoughts ourselves or heard those comments from others. I spend the whole of these novels chuckling or laughing out loud. Can’t wait for the second installment, The Dog Who Came In From The Cold.