Corduroy Mansions is the name of an apartment block set in London's Pimlico area, and it is in Corduroy Mansions that we find a cast of colourful characters.
William is a widowed wine merchant with a grown son who refuses to leave home and a female friend who is all too eager to move in. Dee is a vitamin sales girl who offers to perform colonic irrigation for those she knows. Her flatmate, Jenny, is an assistant to a nasty MP named Oedipus Snark, a man whose own mother is writing a very unflattering biography about him. Their other flatmate, Caroline is an art history student who is in love with a fellow student who thought he was gay but isn't so sure now. Throw in the MP's lover, a man who practices "sacred dancing" and a vegetarian, seatbelt-wearing dog and you have a group of quirky characters that only Alexander McCall Smith can create.
Corduroy Mansions was originally an online serial for the Daily Telegraph and now all 100 episodes have been put together in this book. It is obvious as every chapter in this book is very short, no more than 3 or 4 pages, which makes the book an easy and pleasant read.
The book is a humorous commentary on modern life and the relationships that bind us all together. What it shows is that even in large cities where people seem to always be on the go and keep to themselves, it is possible to form friendships with the people you share your space with.
This isn't a deep read, there isn't much drama or major events to the story. Serious topics are dealt with in a way that the reader knows they have affected the characters lives but aren't at the forefront of the story. As a big fan of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency I had high hopes for this book and was slightly disappointed. I was expecting more of a story and to get to know the characters better, but it is still a nice light read and it has great potential for another enjoyable series.