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Corduroy Mansions (Corduroy Mansions #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  6,603 Ratings  ·  1,063 Reviews
From the author of the global bestseller The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency comes a brand-new novel — the start of a new series — set in the heart of London.

"Corduroy Mansions" is the affectionate nickname given to a genteelly crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico. This is the home patch of — among others — a lovelorn literary agent, possibly the first ever n
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Knopf Canada (first published August 1st 2009)
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Priya Currently I am half way through the book; not sure if your son is done reading it by now. It is for a slightly older audience to appreciate it fully…moreCurrently I am half way through the book; not sure if your son is done reading it by now. It is for a slightly older audience to appreciate it fully but props to your son if he's such an advanced reader and derives pleasure from it! I don't think Alexander McCall Smith's books ever turn dark; his alacrity is something I enjoy tremendously; but despite being a very avid reader since the age of 10, I don't know how much I would have enjoyed, or rather, appreciated this book until my mid-twenties. But to each his own! :) Looking forward to your reply!(less)
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This a London version of the author's 44 Scotland Street. It has the usual array of typical McCall Smith characters, the quirky, the eccentric, the horrendous and a dog that steals the show. They live in the flats and we get a look at their lives, relationships and problems. William is a wine merchant, who gets Freddie de la Hay, our seat belt wearing and vegetarian terrier with the aim of nudging his son, Eddie, to leave home. Marcia hankers after William and there are the young women who flat ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

'Corduroy Mansions' is an apartment building in Pimlico that houses an eclectic group of people. The story revolves around the building's residents as well as their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.....and recounts entertaining anecdotes about the various characters.

For example, William, who lives on the top floor of Corduroy Mansions, is a fiftyish wine shop owner who'd prefer to think of himself as forty-eightish. William is frustrated with his n'er do well son Eddie - a twentysomething
Oct 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 (PM)
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to SheriC (PM) 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 f ...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 lo ...more
Dec 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave this one star. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I got more and more annoyed with Smith's lazy, incomplete, plotting, and archaic point of view. Maybe the incomplete plotting was deliberate since this seems to be the first in a series, but there is no way I am going to pick up any more in this series (and perhaps any more AMS) just to find out what happens.

Biggest problem is the way that Smith's straight white malehood makes it impossible for him to write a female characte
Aug 25, 2011 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
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 mem ...more
Linda Atnip
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
Karen ⊰✿
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gladiators_varro
Delightful book with really no beginning or end as it simply travels through a slice of time following a group of diverse individuals who just happen to live, or visit someone who lives, in the same building in London.
This is a character driven novel with plenty of humour and poignant moments and I found myself generally smiling throughout and interested in what the characters were doing next.
Lovely book and I will cotinue following the characer's lives in book 2
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
Chris Gager
I'll read this when I'm done with "Henry Esmond." A friend of mine is a big fan of the author so I'll give him a try.

A busy and late day kept me away from reading yesterday, but I managed to read into this a ways. So far it's amusing and breezy, but not exactly a page-turner. The initial conversation with Freddie's owner is pretty funny. Mr. rude, self-absorbed and clueless ... Will there be a mystery? I don't even know ...

Just when I was wondering what this book might be about, along comes(emer
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, audiobook
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 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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Willi ...more
Kiera Healy
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 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 w ...more
Philip Walker
Jun 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ra ...more
Kelly Roll
Nov 15, 2011 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 certai ...more
Jul 21, 2010 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 wi ...more
Feb 19, 2016 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!
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a fun audio book. The reader is fantastic. This book made me laugh out loud so many times. The author is so clever at making mundane things interesting and humorous. The things he must ponder about. Looking forward to the next one and hope it's equally ridiculous.
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith has begun yet another delightful series. How does he do it? This one involves the residents of "Corduroy Mansions", a somewhat rundown apartment building in the Pimlico area of London.

Here we meet William, a widowed wine merchant who wants to get his son Eddie to move out. But when Marcia and a Pimlico terrier, Freddie de la Hay move in, he wonders if he's made a good trade. Especially when Freddie eats a possibly valuable painting.

Four young women share one of the apartme
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.

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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)
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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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