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Corduroy Mansions: Book review

reviewed by's Steph Zajkowski

I get dizzy at the rate that Alexander McCall Smith pumps out a novel. He has got to be the hardest working author in the business.

We've reviewed a few of his books in our review section at; however this latest work started life in a thoroughly modern way - as a daily serial published in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

It was such a success that McCall Smith turned it into a novel and a set of CD's.

He's currently at work on a second volume about the lives of his delightful cast of Londoners.

Welcome to Corduroy Mansions: a slightly crumbling but once genteel block of flats in Pimlico, London.

Corduroy Mansions is home to an eccentric assortment of tenants/owners.

In the top flat lives wine merchant William, with a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest.

William has an admirer - caterer Marcia, who would like to marry him - or anyone really.

She helps William cook up a cunning plan to drive son Eddie out - but it threatens to back-fire when Marcia wants to move in.

Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including art student Caroline, who is struggling with unrequited love (or is it?)  and Dee, who runs a vitamin and health food shop.

Round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows.

One other character who deserves honourable mention is a remarkable dog, Freddie de la Hay.

The grandly named Freddie is a Pimlico Terrier who has a pivotal role in the story and one who proved to be very popular with the online audience.

Corduroy Mansions has a quirky mix of personalities; McCall Smith's distinctively english character traits are in evidence once more and bring a chuckle.

He's created a light social comedy that trips merrily along.

My only comment is that the novel finishes abruptly, without any real sense of resolution for its characters.

However, now that I know it started life as a daily serial and that there is more to come in a second volume, it makes sense.

One feels that there is much more comedy/drama to be wrung out of the lives of this odd-bod assortment of apartment dwellers.

Rating: 7/10

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher: Hachette (Little,Brown)
Available: Now