Friday, November 4, 2016
Review of "Corduroy Mansions" by Alexander McCall Smith
Corduroy Mansions is an apartment building in Pimlico that houses an eclectic group of people. The story revolves around the building's residents and their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, recounting entertaining anecdotes about the various characters.
For example, William, who lives on the top floor of Corduroy Mansions, is a fiftyish wine shop owner who'd prefer to think of himself as forty-eight-ish. William is frustrated with his n'er do well son Eddie - a twenty-something who has no job, plays loud music, and sponges off his dad. In an attempt to get allergic Eddie to move out William takes in a dog, Freddie de la Hay, an affectionate fellow who gets involved in various sorts of mayhem. Meanwhile, William's platonic lady friend Marcia has designs on the reluctant wine merchant and Eddie has a 'bit of fun' that endangers poor Freddie's life.
A group of young women share the middle floor apartment. One of them, Jenny, is an assistant to a self-absorbed, oily politician named Oedipus who makes up ludricous excuses to avoid each and every social interaction he's invited to. For instance, invited to a function six months away Oedipus responds that he'll be busy - attending a funeral. Oedipus is so unlikable that his own mother, Berthea, can't stand him.
Another roommate, art student Caroline, is toying with the idea of a romantic relationship with her friend James, who's not sure if he's gay or not. And Dee, who runs a health/nutrition shop, obtusely insists her young male assistant needs a colonic cleanse - which she'll administer.
Then there's Terence (Berthea's brother), a sweet but hapless fellow who drives his antique car at about eight mph. When Terrence accidently fries the car's engine he decides to get a high-powered Porche - with predictable (and unpredictable) consequences. And so on.
The story is filled with entertaining characters and humorous stories. Highly recommended for light reading.
Rating: 4 stars