Corduroy Mansions is a boarding house in the Pimlico district of London. The building is a lovely crumbling mansion block, and just like corduroy fabric it is slightly worn but still sturdy, and ever so comforting.
In this new series by Alexander McCall Smith (Sandy), we meet a Pimlico Terrier (a fictitious breed created by the author) and a host of characters whose lives intersect in a variety of ordinary but intriguing ways. What most of the characters have in common of course, is that they live in Corduroy Mansions. There are real people in this book, not stereotypes (with the exception perhaps, of Oedipus Snark, Liberal Democrat, who behaves as horribly as most people would expect of a politician).
There is a profound warmth and depth to McCall Smith’s characters in all of the series he has created, the most well known being the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series set in Botswana. In this new series, his seemingly scattered vignettes are skillfully woven together but the book is more about personalities than events. Less is learned about the setting – it is my wish to get on the train and visit Pimlico to see if I can find the Belgian shoe store!
Like 44 Scotland Street which was first published in installments in The Scotsman newspaper before it was bound into book form, Corduroy Mansions first appeared in installments online. In fact, the second bunch has been bound into a book called The Dog who Came in from the Cold, and the third is unfolding online as we speak, at the The Telegraph website. Have a look.
I’ve included below a CBC interview that Shelagh Rogers did with the author in Newfoundland. The interview is very funny and captures the author’s good humour and quick wit, and he has some very interesting thoughts on Africa.