“Corduroy Mansions” – A Slice of Life Through the Eyes of Alexander McCall Smith

Book Review :  Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

Possibly there will be spoilers, and perhaps not.

In the style of Smith, I thought I might go on a bit of a ramble and tell you how my five year old son has fallen in love with the cover of this book. He has been carrying it everywhere and has to have it next to him while eating his breakfast. The tyke burst into tears when he couldn’t see it while eating his porridge, the situation was quickly remedied. Personally, this is my favorite pet that he has adopted.

In Corduroy Mansions we have a peek into the lives of the people in London rather than Scotland. It is written in the serial style leading to short chapters where nothing happens and yet everything happens.

The British cover that I found amusing.

I believe my favorite character is the dog, Freddie de la Hay. He has a charming innocence and as much purpose as some of the people.

Some of the other characters include, a wine merchant with a son who has been declared a “waste of space” by the caterer down the hall. A politician that even a mother can’t love. A business woman hoping for love and an eccentric bachelor with a deep understanding of the universe and a love of sacred dance. Of course, there is also the flat full of young girls, someone who had been kidnapped, a photographer and the novel couldn’t be complete without a fine piece of art with questionable ownership. Some problems seem resolved and others seem to just be bubbling to the surface. There are moments when I laughed out loud over the phrasing or the situations, and for this reason decided not to list the specifics so I don’t spoil the moment for a new reader.

Though the style of writing is simple I am amazed at some of the words that are casually dropped into a sentence. Apparently Smith is accustomed to bandy words about like, solipsistic and crepuscular, in casual conversation. I must admit my vocabulary must be lacking because I have never used these words in any sentence and probably never will.

I am not yet charmed by any character in this newest series as I am with Bertie, from the 44 Scotland Street series, however that little boy is a hard act to follow. Corduroy Mansions was an enjoyable slice of life in London.

– Michelle

3.25 out of 5 stars


I read the second in the series and forgot to write the review, but here is the third book anyhow.

Book Review : A Conspiracy of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith

Spoiler Alert!

The people of Corduroy Mansion, and surrounding environs, come and go with their lives intersecting as they pass one another. Berthea continues to work on her unauthorized biography of her son, Oedipus Snark – the only loathsome Liberal Democrat in all of England. In fact, Berthea secretly wishes to discover that her son was mistakenly switched at birth. William French has a myriad of problems, will Eddie ever leave home, what has become of his beloved Pimlico, Freddie de la Hay, and what is he do to about this new love entanglement? Caroline Jarvis is trying to figure out what she truly wants out of love and friendship. Rupert Porter and Barbara Ragg have a new row involving the superior flat, publishing the Yeti’s story and possibly the entire business.

Adult Point of View

By the third book in this series the characters are familiar and the mere mention of their name brings a smile to my face as they squabble around trying to make sense of their unpredictable lives. I still loathe Eddie, who really has been a waste of space, but I wonder if he might actually do something in the future. Oedipus Snark, who has always lived up to his name, catches a twist of fate that leaves me wondering if I will miss how truly awful he has always been. I am sad for Caroline that she really might have lost her best friend, James, even if it is an exchange for love. I also like seeing Barbara come into a better understanding of herself and wanting to do what is right.

Though completely implausible I enjoyed the installment of the Yeti, in particular in this  quote.

“Yeti very pleased,” said the yeti.
He thought: It’s quite a strain leaving out auxiliary verbs, but that’s apparently what she wants; strange people, the English. Very strange. (p. 258)

The Corduroy Mansions series is perfect to read when you need a snicker and sometimes a full on laugh. Nothing is resolved, nothing is complete, it just goes on without an end in sight; just like a slice of real life.

3.75 out of 5 stars

– Michelle


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow cooked in a tagine. Weekly I get together with friends and go to yoga for a bit of mommy time. Some may find me quirky, I prefer to think I am one of a kind.
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