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Corduroy Mansions (Corduroy Mansions #1)

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  5,902 Ratings  ·  998 Reviews
A delightful new setting - London - wonderful new cast of characters and one incredibly clever dog.

Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant Willia
ebook, Serialised Digital Download
Published (first published 2009)
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Oct 23, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
This book was charming, fun and silly and enjoyable all the way through - RIGHT UP UNTIL THE END. What happened there? I bought this book as part of some special offer in a bookstore because a) I recently enjoyed the first book of his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and b) it was really cheap. But even the cheapness of the book does not make how irritated I am about this alright.

I haven't read any of the 44 Scotland Street series, but Corduroy Mansions is based on the same kind of pri
SheriC (Portable Magic)
Aug 30, 2016 SheriC (Portable Magic) rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to SheriC (Portable Magic) by: karen on BL
It started out well, with a quirky cast of characters and funny little observations about people and the world in general. But it never gelled as a story, and many characters ended up feeling like having a houseful of guests who are at first amusing, then tiresome, then annoying, and who won't take the hint to leave. The clumsy attempt to tie together the characters' storylines failed, and half the plot points hinted at in the first half of the book went nowhere, and worst of all, every single ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Corduroy Mansions’ struck me as a stream-of-consciousness cozy! Experiment? I wouldn’t be surprised. Whatever the readers’ opinion of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing, uneducated provincial dullard is not where he is coming from, despite the fact his books’ characters are mostly provincial and dull. He demonstrates sly erudite intelligence in both of the series I have read. Smith strikes me as very aware of the limitations of his characters and their simple outlook on life, but he apparently ...more
Moira Lau
Nov 27, 2012 Moira Lau rated it it was amazing
A few hours ago, I finished 'Corduroy Mansions' by Alexander McCall Smith. I read Sue Townsend's 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole' a few months ago and actually found British novels very amusing. Here we have people from one of the most well-known counties in the world, going on with their everyday lives like the rest of us, sprinkled with a little weird attitudes and ignorance, making one laugh or complain out loud at every change of scene. Like I said, it’s amusing. I actually enjoyed ...more
Sep 02, 2011 Brittany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I started to write that I didn't know what was so entrancing and comforting about this book, but then I realized that's incorrect. I know exactly what makes these books, largely plot-less, so attractive. Following the lives of these quirky, interesting, and interconnected people is exactly as satisfying as a long phone call with your mom, catching up on the gossip from back home.

This book is largely interesting for the characters in it. Nothing earth-shattering happens (with one exception), but
Aug 09, 2011 Lorna added it
Scotland Street comes to London! Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh-based daily series for The Scotsman is being replicated south of the border, this time published in the Telegraph online and set in Pimlico.

Just like 44 Scotland Street, Corduroy Mansions is split into flats - the top flat inhabited bynny William the wine merchant (Master of Wine, failed), the middle one by four young women (Caroline, Dee, Jenny and Jo), and the ground floor by accountant Basil Wickramsinghe.

William is keen to
Apr 04, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
The first in a new series launched by Alexander McCall Smith. I have to ask--does this man sleep? This book is set in the Pimlico neighborhood of London in a cozy, yet slightly decrepit, building divided into flats. The usual quirky cast of characters are featured--William, the middle-aged widower who runs a wine shop and is trying to convince his 24 year old son to move out; several young girls who share the second floor flat; and the accountant on the first floor. There's also an obnoxious ...more
Linda Atnip
Jan 23, 2012 Linda Atnip rated it liked it
I found the setting and descriptions of life in London fun to read. It was quick and breezy and had the feeling of a male version of chick-lit. However, I would have preferred fewer characters to keep up with and found some of the interplay forced. For instance, I would've eliminated the accountant who didn't really bring anything to the table until perhaps the end of the book. It felt like he was dangling there with no reason for being introduced.

After discovering this is a series, it made sens
May 26, 2014 Kathe added it
Sometimes you just want a light read. Nothing too taxing, but not trashy either. Something well written, with interesting and amusing characters whose adventures you enjoy following.

Enter, stage left - or in this case, online - Alexander McCall Smith. Corduroy Mansions is the first book in the fifth series from the astoundingly prolific Scottish author, who dabbles in medical law in his spare(?) time. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, chronicles the life of the wonderfu
Have you ever walked down a city street and wondered about the people living in the buildings you pass? McCall Smith gives us a view into the lives of a cast of characters from the Pimlico neighborhood in London.

While the book lacks a sweeping plot, it is made up of a series of vignettes featuring the various characters. We meet William, the 50-something wine merchant. And Berthea Snark, the psycho-analyst who hates her son Oedipus. And Freddie de la Hay, a vegetarian terrier. And a whole host o
Mar 31, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Another Horatian satire from A. McCall Smith. He can look at apartments and a neighborhood in London and imagine the lives of characters who all have gentle foibles. A cast-off dog (named Freddie de la Hay) with super-human sensitivity adds to the mix. There are so many plot lines that, towards the end of the book, I wondered how the author would tie things up neatly for me. He didn't (because there are other books in the series), but there is this toast, given by middle-aged wine merchant ...more
Kiera Healy
Jun 09, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it it was ok
I really like The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and really dislike The Sunday Philosophy Club, so I was interested to try another series by Alexander McCall Smith. This one didn't really capture my imagination as I read it, though. It's got a big ensemble cast - too big, with too few characters worth caring about. Whenever I picked up the book again after a break, I found myself struggling to remember who was who.

There are precisely one hundred chapters here, but they are all very short, someti
Aug 23, 2010 Stig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-in-english
This is the first volume in a new series by Alexander McCall Smith, somewhat reminiscent of his 44 Scotland Street books, but set in London. We are in familiar territory as we follow the inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions – a wine merchant and his scrounger of a son, a Sri Lankan accountant who may have a secret and four girls sharing a flat – and their various friends and acquaintances as their lives intertwine. There are some marvelous characters here, not least Oedipus Snark, described as the ...more
Philip Walker
Jun 05, 2012 Philip Walker rated it did not like it
I took this book camping with me, having enjoyed other books by the Author. I wish i had left it at home..

Each character is a carbon copy of the next, there is nothing unique about any, the dialogue of each is identical making it difficult to give individual characters their own voice, and also, the characters are very similar to those in other books by the Author which is particularly disappointing, there seems to have been no imagination when writing this, it is very lazily and poorly written.
Nov 14, 2010 Becca rated it liked it
Not a bad book, but sort of like a casserole with your least favorite vegtable mixed in. Lots of different characters, some of whom I loved and others I didn't care at all for. Which meant at least half the book I was flipping through just to get to parts that were more enjoyable. I don't know how this author can write a series I love, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and yet all his other writings leave me underwhelmed. This book also had several long passages that felt like Smith was just ...more
Jul 21, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasant little book and, if you like McCall Smith, that is why you read his stuff. No surprises though and, given that the approach has been used for the 44 Scotland Street books, a bit of the shine is off stylistically. At this point, in what will be a series, there are no obvious stars and our aquaintance with the characters is pretty slight. I am looking forward to Snark getting some comeuppance (although McCall Smith style comeuppance tends to be rather gentle) and I was a little taken ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Shaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love the characters in this series and the gentle humour. I wish it would be continued!
Sep 08, 2010 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Corduroy Mansions is the first book in a new series from Alexander McCall Smith. It features a cast of characters connected to one another by Corduroy Mansions, the building in which some of the characters live. There's William, who tries a variety of methods to get his son Eddie to move out on his own; Marcia, who's sweet on William; a quartet of young women who live downstairs; the MP Oedipus Snark, who's hated by many people including his own mother Berthea; Barbara Ragg, who'd love to get he ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
A dog with a surname is a rare breed. Freddie de la Hay, a terrier of the rare if not mythical Pimlico variety is no exception. His mannerisms seem almost human (he’s even a vegetarian), yet Freddie finds human motivations rather inscrutable. In this first book of McCall Smith’s trilogy, Freddie joins new owner William, a middle aged wine merchant, in Corduroy Mansions. The abode is comfortable, and not quite as posh as Tweed Mansions might be. William inhabits the top floor with his 24-year old ...more
Austen to Zafón
May 15, 2011 Austen to Zafón rated it really liked it I love reading McCall Smith's books, especially his serials. Like the 44 Scotland Street series, in which the characters live in a building of flats, the Corduroy Mansions series is also based in a building of flats, but in London instead of Edinburgh. The concept of both 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions is based on Charles Dickens’ episodic writing, in which novels were serialized through weekly or monthly journals. McCall Smith pursued this method of writing following a meetin ...more
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London’s vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky characters. There’s the middle-aged wine merchant William, who’s trying to convince his reluctant 24-year-old son, Eddie, to leave the nest; and Marcia, the boutique caterer who has her sights set on William. There’s also the (justifiably) much-loathed Member of Parliament, his mother, who ...more
Jun 25, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
An odd little book that I mistakenly thought would turn into a mystery novel. Perhaps I was confusing this with Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Anyway, I kept waiting for someone to off the odious Oedipus Snark who is so odious that not even his mother loves him.

Oedipus the malevolent MP is just one of a cast of nearly two dozen idiosyncratic characters living in or connected to a block of flats known as Corduroy Mansions in London. In the end there is no mystery, no
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
I have just discovered this book by Mr. Smith and enjoyed it as much as my favorite 'Bertie' series. Corduroy Mansions takes place in Plimlico area of London, GB. It mirrors the Edinburgh series in that it is about the lives of the persons residing within this building of owned flats.

On the top floor is William and we join him as he is trying to gain his freedom to live 'alone.' His Son, Eddie, 24yrs old, rather stay at home and live off him. Life, of course, interferes with Williams ideas.

Jun 22, 2015 Judith rated it really liked it
This is an absolutely charming book which, while light-hearted and entertaining, is not cheap sentimentality. I wouldn't make a steady diet out of this series but it is a welcome relief from more serious novels I am generally drawn to. If you appreciate dry British humor, you will enjoy this book. Set in London in a house which is divided by floors into 3 large apartments it follows the residents of the building as they go about their daily lives and face joys and sorrows. Corduroy Mansions is ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Jon rated it it was ok
I listened to this one while I was doing other things. I had about given up on the author, thinking that he writes far too much and puts into his books pretty much every thought that enters his head. The musings of his characters (ie, his musings) are never very profound, and they get tiresome. He is, however, the most amiable and good-hearted of writers, and it's hard to hold a grudge. This book was much improved by the very able reader, Simon Prebble. I was annoyed that ALL his characters ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Leah rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: every so often I wander out of the library with an Alexander McCall Smith book, forgetting that I'm not really a fan of his style until after I've read the book.

Corduroy Mansions is entirely about characters, and there are loads of weird, crazy, kooky, and misunderstood ones living in and associated with the block of flats nicknamed Corduroy Mansions. This is not a book for someone more interested in plot/story, however. Do not expect the story to go anywhere, just try to enjoy the
May 15, 2015 Somantika rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, feel-good
Another fun book by this author. This is very similar to his 44 Scotland Street series. The set up is the same, that is, the chapters move between different sets of characters with most of the main characters being residents of flats in a building called Corduroy Mansions (in same way as the main characters in the other series resided in 44 Scotland Street.) This is based in London whereas the 44 Scotland Street series novels are based in Edinburgh. The ups and downs, twists and turns, along ...more
Kelly Roll
Nov 19, 2011 Kelly Roll rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Oh dear, I am afraid that I just cannot persuade myself to like Mr. McCall Smiths writing. This is the second series of his I've tried and he is just not to my taste. Other readers have called the characters in this book charming and eccentric. I mainly found them to be either boring or downright unlikeable. I also found that the characters read as much older than their stated age. One character is 31 and yet until I was told her age I assumed we were dealing with a middle aged woman. She ...more
Nov 19, 2013 Knewmyer rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-library, 2013
I liked this book very much - how can you help but like a book in which the dog is named "Freddy de la Hay"? I listened to the audio version and the narrator was spectacular, a perfect combination of narrator and novel. There are a lot of characters and sometimes I have difficulty keeping multiple characters straight in an audiobook, but not this one. All of the characters (including Freddy) had fully fleshed out personalities.

Great ending - nothing splashy just a nice subtle message that broug
Oct 09, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, series
Just when I was feeling a bit down because the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series had run its course for me, I discovered Corduroy Mansions. This book is fantastic--vivid and humorous characters (including an adorable "Pimlico terrier")whose capers tend to dwell on that fine line between reality and fiction. I found that the characters here are not as reliant upon rhetoric as in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and that lack of predictability makes this my favorite book from AMS thus ...more
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Corduroy Mansions (3 books)
  • The Dog who Came in from the Cold (Corduroy Mansions, #2)
  • A Conspiracy of Friends (Corduroy Mansions, #3)

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“So, in less elevated circles, we might toss a coin as to whether or not to go to a party, decide to go, and there meet the person whom we are to marry and spend our lives with. And if that person came, say, from New Zealand, and wanted to return, then we might find ourselves spending our life in Christchurch. Not that spending one’s lifetime in Christchurch is anything less than very satisfactory—who among us would not be happy living in a city of well-behaved people, within reach of mountains, where the civic virtues ensure courtesy and comfort and where the major problems of the world are an ocean away? But had the coin fallen the other way—as coins occasionally do—then that wholly different prospect might never have opened up and one might spend the rest of one’s days in the place where one started out. Or one might pick up a newspaper abandoned in a train by a person not well schooled in those same civic virtues, open it and chance to see an advertisement for a job that one would not otherwise have seen. And that same job might take one into the path of risk, and that very risk may materialise and end one’s life prematurely. Again the act of picking up the paper has consequences unglimpsed at the time, but profound nonetheless.” 1 likes
“Everybody was a potential assailant; nobody spoke to one another for fear of being misinterpreted; nobody comforted another, put an arm around a shoulder-to do so would be to invite accusation.” 1 likes
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