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Corduroy Mansions: A Novel | [Alexander McCall Smith]

Corduroy Mansions: A Novel

In London’s Pimlico neighborhood lies a tenement described in architectural guides as “a building of no interest whatsoever.” But the residents of Corduroy Mansions—including a literary agent, a wine merchant, a thoroughly unpleasant member of Parliament, and a vegetarian dog—are a rather fascinating lot.
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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency comes this serialized novel—reminiscent of his acclaimed 44 Scotland Street.

In London’s Pimlico neighborhood lies a tenement described in architectural guides as “a building of no interest whatsoever”. But the residents of Corduroy Mansions—including a literary agent, a wine merchant, a thoroughly unpleasant member of Parliament, and a vegetarian dog—are a rather fascinating lot. 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.

©2010 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"[A] daily laugh-out-loud treat on my journey into work.” (Bookseller)

"Smith's charming first in a new series offers a variation on his 44 Scotland Street books, centering on the eccentric occupants of Corduroy Mansions and their offbeat doings....[T]he wry humor he elicits from the collisions of lives and their repercussions will bring smiles to the faces of many readers." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (362 )
5 star
 (125)
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3 star
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3.9 (245 )
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3 star
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Story
4.2 (246 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-25-12
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-25-12

    trying to see the world with my ears

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    "Oedipus Snark, MP"

    If that name made you smile, this book is for you. I admit that I put this one aside when it came out because it didn't seem on par with the 44 Scotland Street series (which it resembles in format), but after a bad week at work, I needed a cheering listen and re-loaded it. Two hours later, my husband thought I was in some kind of distress when he found me writhing on the couch, guffawing. I've already downloaded the second in the series from Audible and (if you hurry) the Telegraph is still running the podcast of novel 3 on itunes. Even if you miss the podcast for #3, I suspect that, like novel 1, the other installments are worth a credit. I'm saving #2 and #3 for those times when I start to dislike humanity -- McCall Smith puts all the "small stuff" in perspective so that I can return to work with a smile.

    It may take a few chapters to enter the world of Cordroy Mansions, but oh - what a remedy for a bad day at the office! We all know an Oedipus Snark! (and my colleagues probably think it's me...)

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Svetlana OR, United States 08-08-10
    Svetlana OR, United States 08-08-10 Member Since 2004

    CBETA

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    "Still good, yet far from the best."

    I am a big fan of Mr. Alexander McCall Smith, but, after having listened to Corduroy Mention, I felt a bit disappointed. It resembles the 44 Scotland street series in its setup, well, only it takes place in London. However, it is much flatter than the Edinburgh-placed stories: the characters are harder to engage with, there are too many of the second-plan people and stories, and London is not really present, not even in the background (and one expects the location to play at least some role in McCall Smith???s books). To me, the book felt busy and lacking depth, and some story lines were left uncompleted or not fully realized, or not connected to each other in any meaningful way.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathi Loveland, CO, United States 08-03-12
    Kathi Loveland, CO, United States 08-03-12
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    "Cute, funny and entertaining"
    What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

    Loved it!


    Any additional comments?

    Okay, I am a sucker for Scottland, humerous suspense and cute little dogs. I am prewired to love this book. This remineded me quite a bit of McCalls other series at 44 Scottland with Bertie and the like - which I also enjoyed. Visual descriptions like his other stories, good character development of quirky people you may know plus an adorable little dog...what's not to like? Perfect stories for a long commute.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth 09-17-12
    Beth 09-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just OK"

    I ADORE the Ladies Detective Agency books. This is only the second or third of McCall Smith's books that I've read outside of that series, and all have disappointed. This one was OK - nothing offensive about it, and once I was well into it the characters did kind of grow on me to the point where I wanted to see them through. But there isn't that much to see through - the plot is slow and not much happens. There are TOO MANY characters and subplots woven together, and really, none of them is all that compelling. It really was kind of boring, and seemed to go on and on and on (100 chapters!?)

    The reading was FINE - well done.
    There were a few characters that really were a hoot - Oedipus Snark (mostly for his name) and I especially liked Terrence. But there was nothing really compelling about it - either plot or characters. And although much of it was mildly amusing, I just don't get how anyone could find it "hilarious" -?!

    I'll stick to Mma Ramotswe and friends in the future. THOSE are a GIFT!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Pearson Idaho 11-23-11
    E. Pearson Idaho 11-23-11 Member Since 2008

    Occasional Thinker

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Characters Easy to Live With"

    A very good story, or rather--collection of various characters and their intermigled--stories. While different in many ways, certainly overall intent, this book reminded me quite a bit of THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE, which is high praise indeed. I've read many of A.M. Smith's books now, and always look forward to each as a time to simultaneously laugh, be inspired, and provoked to better thought and understaning. Occassionally I get tired of the endless meandering thoughts of each and every single character, and I believe CORDUROY MANSIONS brought this minor irritation out more strongly than usual, simply because each one of the many many characters is star of her or his own story, so there is an incredible amount of inner, random, meandering, thougtfulness indeed. Still, I come away from the book feeling refreshed and happy to have met more of the delightful characters from Smith's delightfully-peopled universe. I'm immensely grateful that he provides me with these most enjoyable diversions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LeakyB 10-27-11
    LeakyB 10-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Less than mundane"

    The characters are not developed; one is inconsistent (Eddie) Their stories are uninteresting. Boring things happen to boring people. Then they celebrate.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrienne Brown 12-11-12 Listener Since 2006
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    "Excellent series"

    I am hooked on all Alexander McCall Smith's books. First I read 44 Scotland Street and now I am on the last book of Corduroy Mansions. I love all his eclectic characters with their faults and virtues. He really understands humans and dogs. I also read No 1 Ladies Detective Agency - but only one so far. I can't wait for my morning walk with the dog to listen to the next hour's worth! Simon Prebble is a great reader - a voice for each character.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Sequim, WA, United States 11-26-12
    Bonnie Sequim, WA, United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Life in London well told!"

    Alexander McCall Smith has an uncanny knack for depicting quirky characters in a perfectly charming manner, and he does it again in this series, which I want to explore more thoroughly as time and money permit. Following the lives of the denizens of the apartment block known as Corduroy Mansions is fascinating, illuminating, and delicious. And I am totally in love with Freddy de le Hay!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharron 02-17-12
    Sharron 02-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I'm surprised to be so disappointed!"
    What disappointed you about Corduroy Mansions?

    After listening for about an hour, I could not find a character to like or dislike, could only keep thinking


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Perhaps some other


    What didn’t you like about Simon Prebble’s performance?

    He's a fine reader, and I've enjoyed hearing him in other recordings. I just didn't like what he was reading!


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment, and annoyance that I had used one of my Audible.com book credits, spent time downloading and burning the book to CDs, and now all of that's wasted. I can't even listen to the whole thing.


    Any additional comments?

    Still an Alexander McCall Smith fan, but will steer clear of this series.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Aurora, CO, United States 09-25-10
    Lynn Aurora, CO, United States 09-25-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wise and funny observations from my fave author."

    I have read and/or listened to all of Alexander McCall Smith's books, but somehow missed the start of this new series. I began listening to "Corduroy Mansions" in audiobook format at the beginning of an intercontinental flight and it was a real struggle not to laugh out loud. I just couldn't stop listening and am now seriously jet-lagged!! Mr. McCall Smith was the first author in the yearly Pen and Podium series here in Denver. Nobody since has been as interesting, charming and funny. He's my favorite author.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
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