In the Corduroy Mansions series of novels, set in London's hip Pimlico neighborhood, we meet a cast of charming eccentrics, including perhaps the world's most clever terrier, who make their home in a handsome, though slightly dilapidated, apartment block. Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname given to a genteel, crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico neighborhood and the home turf of a captivating collection of quirky and altogether McCall-Smithian characters. There's the middle-aged wine merchant William, who's trying to convince his reluctant twenty-four-year-old son, Eddie, to leave the nest; and Marcia, the boutique caterer who has her sights set on William. There's also the (justifiably) much-loathed Member of Parliament oedipus Snark; his mother, Berthea, who's writing his biography and hating every minute of it; and his long-suffering girlfriend, Barbara, a literary agent who would like to be his wife (but, then, she'd like to be almost anyone's wife). There's the vitamin evangelist, the psychoanalyst, the art student with a puzzling boyfriend and Freddie de la Hay, the Pimlico terrier who insists on wearing a seat belt and is almost certainly the only avowed vegetarian canine in London. Filled with the ins and outs of neighborliness in all its unexpected variations, Corduroy Mansions showcases the life, laughter and humanity that have become the hallmarks of Alexander McCall Smith's work.
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by Alexander McCall Smith
"Simon Prebble's pacing and vitality shore up this first entry in a new series. McCall Smith's novel about the residents of a respectable London apartment complex and their extended circles of associates has a few too many beans in the pot. Prebble's expertise with accents helps with the many characters, including the voices of an obnoxious member of Parliament and the coarse son of a wine merchant. The tiresome story of the MP's hapless brother-in-law is redeemed by Prebble's delivery of a funny last-minute drunken scene--but just barely. McCall Smith isn't subtle about his most fanciful creation, an extraordinary dog, who gives Prebble more to work with. But, overall, precious characters and unresolved stories are a lot to overcome. B.V.M. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine"
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