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 her claws into William; and many others. Oh, and there's also Freddie do la Hay, a vegetarian terrier, who insist on wearing a seatbelt.
I loved this book. I wouldn't be surprised if this book turns up on the best seller lists. Smith is a fantastic storyteller. His sense of humour and irony make this book appealing and inviting. The characters and storyline are quaint, quirky, delightful, charming and outrageously funny. A pure delight to read. I love how he writes. His writing isn't overly complicated, which makes it easy to read. He does, however, throw in a word now and then that is new to me and seems totally foreign(see new words below). I'm sure those with a larger vocabulary will recognize the words or be able to decipher their meaning, but not me. Some of the time, I'm not even sure they are belong to the English language. I love being exposed to new words, so I love it.
His characters are truly outstanding. Sure, some of them are a bit odd and quirky, but they are also very human. My favourites would certainly include: William, because of his hilarious methods to get rid of his son; Terence (Berthea's brother), because of his odd choice of cars; and of course Freddie, because, well, just because. There wasn't one in the bunch that I didn't love reading about.
This isn't the first book of Smith's I've read. I've also read a few books in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, as well as the standalone book La's Orchestra Saves the World. I think I liked the latter one a bit more than this one, but just by just a hair.
I love the cover on this book. The dog is absolutely adorable. My one complaint is that this dog doesn't look capable of carrying a box/bag of shoes as he does in the story. Nevertheless, he remains as cute as can be. The book is also dotted with illustrations that further enhance the story. Nicely done.
New word Alert:
risible (page 3): ludicrous
oleaginous (page 68): ingratiating
solipsistic (page 69): from sol•ip•sism the theory that only the self exists
meretricious (page 147): superficially attractive
paneurhythmy (page 153): type/method of dance
palimpsest (page 162): overwritten manuscript
odious (page 183): hateful
crepuscular (page 186): like twilight
soidisant (page 209): self styled
amanuenses (page 253): scribe or writer's assistant
iambic pentameter (page 265): poetry pattern containing five iambs (rhythm unit in poetry) .
Highly recommended. I'm especially looking forward to the next instalment in this series. I'd gladly read all of Smith's books if only he'd slow down a little so that I might catch up.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Random House website.
For more information about the author and his numerous other books, please visit Alexander McCall Smith's website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.
Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith, Alfred A. Knopf Canada (Random House of Canada), ©2009. ISBN 9780307399083(Hardcover), 353p.