- Mercy Sais
Alexander McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions is about Family. The group of tenants in the genteel but slightly shabby house in the Pimlico neighborhood in London cares about each other and finds joy in the simple things in life.
This is an ensemble piece with a simple plot and many eccentric and likable characters. There is William French, a widower and wine merchant, who cannot get his 24-year-old son to move out. He “borrows’ Freddy de la Hay, a terrier with human behavior and thoughts, to get the dog-hating Eddie to move out. Instead, William’s ersatz girlfriend moves in. On the floor below live four young women: Dee works in a health food shop; Caroline is studying art history at Sotheby’s; Jenny is MP Oedipus Snark’s assistant; Jo, an Australian, is assistant manager at a local wine bar. Below them lives a quiet accountant in his mid-forties called Basil Wickramsinghe. The characters touch each other’s lives and have moral dilemmas to solve.
Alexander McCall Smith has a little of Charles Dickens in his soul with his humor, and this book continues the serial novel form as did many of Dickens’ novels and McCall Smith's previous 44 Scotland Street series. Corduroy Mansions was printed in installments in London’s newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.