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Corduroy Mansions Hardcover – 1 Aug 2009

71 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon; 1st edition (1 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846971217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846971211
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 3.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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 twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six 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, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

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. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Product Description


Quirky and original . . . told with warmth, wit and intelligence, and McCall Smith's cast of characters are beautifully observed. It's a page-turner with many happy endings. Perfect (DAILY EXPRESS ** 'Bags of warmth and wisdom and easy, accomplished writing that begs for a comfy chair')

Kate Saunders, THE TIMES ** 'Richly illustrates McCall Smith's absolute mastery of the art of storytelling (THE LADY ** 'The author's gentle humour and playful teasing-out of moral dilemmas great and small are there in abundance')

SCOTSMAN ** 'The seriousness is always sugar-dusted in McCall Smith's delight in the ridiculous and his perfectly paced humour (DAILY TELEGRAPH) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

*The new London-based series from Alexander McCall Smith, comparable in warmth and humour to 44 Scotland Street --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Corduroy Mansions is in the same vein as 44 Scotland Street, but set in London. The inhabitants of a block of flats are the core characters who interact with the outside world. McCall Smith creates a range of believable people and weaves stories around them that illustrate human feelings and behaviour. When reading his books, I feel that the author is a kind and humane man who tries to see the best in people. His books do not depict the underbelly of society not are they full of violence, but they are not overly sentimental and do deal with philosophical and moral issues. I know Edinburgh well and the Scotland Street books are full of familiar Streets and venues which add to the pleasure. I don't feel that Corduroy Mansions has so many allusions to place, which is not surprising as McCall Smith has lived and worked in Edinburgh for a long time. The format of the book (like the Scottish series) is a series of short chapters, previously published in a daily newspaper, giving the book a pacy immediacy that carries the reader along. It's a bit like a superior soap opera where one follows the lives of the largely middle-class characters from day to day. Very enjoyable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 23 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Corduroy Mansions is the tale of the inhabitants of...well Corduroy Mansions, and those they interact with outside of the building they reside. William lives at the top of the building with his son Eddie, though he wants Eddie out going as far as getting a vegetarian cat loving dog (the wonderful Freddie de la Hay) and then moving in the besotted Marcia as a flatmate, perfect situation for some wonderful comedy. One the floor below lives a group of flat sharing girls. Jo an Aussie fresh to the UK but loving it and possibly one of her housemates, Dee who works in vitamins and pharmaceuticals and wants to give her assistant a colonic, Caroline an Art Student who once featured in Rural Life Magazine and is now sort of infatuated with James who is worried he might be straight and the bookish Jenny who works for the odious Oedipus Snark (brilliant name) the nastiest Liberal Democrat MP you could ever wish to meet.

Not only do we get to follow these colourful characters lives we also get to meet and in some cases follow the people that they have in their lives such as Oedipus through whom we also get to follow his mother Berthea, who is writing her sons biography, and her wonderful `spiritual' brother Terence Moongrove. There is also Oedipus's long suffering girlfriend Barbara Ragg who runs a publishing company and is about to have quite a change in life. These characters are also wonderful and make you want to read more; it's almost like wonderful character overload.

Now if you are wondering why I haven't mentioned plot... well there isn't a huge plot to it. It's much more subtle than that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
"If you are wise, you are wise for yourself," -- Proverbs 9:12 (NKJV)

Don't miss this book!

Corduroy Mansions displays all of the best traits of Alexander McCall Smith's writing about UK characters: Introspection, musings about the human condition, gentle seeking for love, outrageous satire, canine perspectives on humans, and one of the most obnoxious politicians you can imagine.

I was very impressed by the story. Only the absurd M.P. Oedipus Snark seems seriously unlikely to be a real person. He provides a perfect foil for introducing the other characters and making them sympathetically interesting. The other characters resonated with me in their discomfort, inertia, and willingness to step into the world of possibilities when the door to the future opens. The plot itself has many delightful twists that make for both gentle humor and belly laughs. Through it all, Alexander McCall Smith provides the kind of wisdom about knowing oneself and living authentically that makes his books so life affirming and enjoyable to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Contullich on 20 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I always enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's writing, and the pace with which he is able to carry a reader, but his characters did not grab me in this book. It's partly because it's set in London and he does not lovingly and in detail describe the areas of the city in which the characters live, work and move ( and I can't empathise with an unknown part of London as much as I can with that wonderful city of Edinburgh), but also because some of the characters are rather shallow. I also find it very difficult to visualise them (always absolutely necessary) as I can in other series
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Book 1981 on 14 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I found it disarmingly sweet and honest, true to McCall Smith's unique style. It is more sophisticated than the First Lady's Detective Agency series - We are invited into the internal dialogue of a collection of very intelligent and academic Londoners, witnessing their confused thoughts and feelings as they try to untangle everyday problems. I think everyone will find issues in this book they can relate to, like job security, family, flatmates and unrequited love.

It follows the same unwavering moral compass found in all McCall Smith's books, interspersed with bright sparks of humour and charm, as well as refreshing originality - Take for example the vegetarian dog Freddie de la Hay.

It is no fast-paced book with cliff hangers and page-turning suspense, nor does it contain huge emotional turmoil or passionate romances. It is very much a middle-of-the-way story of average people living average lives, and the effect of the narration is more that of a comfortable ramble than a breathless charge. I was not as hooked as I might have been, but I never failed to be charmed and impressed by McCall Smith's sometimes profound take on everyday life.
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