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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindly and thoughful exploration of human behaviour
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...
Published on 27 July 2009 by Bluebell

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of charm!
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...
Published on 14 Dec 2009 by Book 1981


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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindly and thoughful exploration of human behaviour, 27 July 2009
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Hardcover)
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Serialisation, 23 Sep 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (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. There are small storylines for all the characters as McCall Smith himself puts it "these stories are character-based: what interests me is what makes the characters tick rather than intricate and potentially confusing plots" and with this many characters it could get confusing but it never does. I really, really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone who loved Armistead Maupin's `Tales of the City' series though it's somewhat gentler, though there is more adult humour in this one than in 44 Scotland Street as I recall it. I would also recommend it for anyone who likes a good old nosey peep into normal characters lives, their little quirks and how they all interact. Delightful reading!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corduroy Mansions - a bit thin, 20 Nov 2009
This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of charm!, 14 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of Isabel Dalhousie Crossed with 44 Scotland Street Planted in London, 17 Nov 2011
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite good fun, 6 Oct 2010
This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Paperback)
McCall Smith's character shows up in all his books. He really is a terrible snob but quite amusing. Unfortunately his lack of fondness for London and England show up in all his books and in this one in particular. As a Londoner who loves his city, I find this a great pity. I do enjoy reading novels based in my home city but would prefer the writer to be a little kinder. I shall of course continue with the series but then I think perhaps McCall Smith should go back to Scotland.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same flour, new bag, 20 Oct 2009
This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Hardcover)
If you've read the Scotland Street series, don't waste your money. An old house converted into flats, an eligible middle aged man and a woman with her eyes on him, a painting, a dog, an assortment of dithering, uncertain people, a dinner party ending with a poem. Haven't I read this before somewhere......? All that's missing is a Bertie, the best of the Scotland St characters.

This is shameless recycling of an idea. The same flour in a new bag. Some say that Mozart didn't compose 400 pieces - he composed the same piece 400 times. But Mozart had genius on his side.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corduroy Mansions, 24 Sep 2009
By 
S. Dunlop - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Hardcover)
I liked the Bertie series set in Edinburgh, so was really pleased to see that AMS had started a new series. Found this amusing and a good read, but probably didn't like it as much as the other books I've read of his.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All time favourite!, 7 Sep 2013
By 
Joyce Symington "twascotties" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Kindle Edition)
Freddie de la Hay et al, the occupants of Corduroy Mansions are an eclectic lot, very interesting in many ways, chief amongst which has to be William French, MW (failed). Owner of vegetarian dog Freddie, he battles every day with his son Eddie for the enjoyment of his own flat. You will enjoy this!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read, 16 April 2013
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V. E. Wood (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Corduroy Mansions (Kindle Edition)
Wonderful character descriptions ..you really get to know them. Also Mr McCall has really extended my vocabulary. It is at once amusing and intriguing... How can anyone not be fascinated by a character called Oedipus Snark?
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Corduroy Mansions
Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2009)
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