2009 has been a bit of an Alexander McCall Smith year for me - I discovered his Scotland Street series earlier in the year and devoured the books in that collection quite quickly. When I saw Corduroy Mansions had been published I was very excited - I could continue my obsession!
Corduroy Mansions is pretty much just an English version of the Scotland Street novels. A lot of the characters seem similar in stereotypes and ways - and yet they retain their own individual quirks and traits as well. I fluctuated when reading this novel between finding the sameness and similarities in character design annoying and boring and then finding it comforting and safe - which is sometimes just what I am looking for in my reading. I picked up the new Alexander McCall Smith novel because I knew what I would be getting - and he didn't disappoint me in this regard.
The Corduroy Mansions of the title is a block of flats in the London area of Pimlico and the chapters focus around the various residents of the building as we as their numerous acquaintances and relatives. Unlike the Scotland Street series there wasn't a character like young Bertie who really stood out for me as a favourite and it was probably this fact that was most disappointing about the novel for me - there was no one character that I genuinely cared about. Apart from this though there were a great selection of characters to follow - the style of McCall Smith's writing and the way he structures his chapters means that if you are bored with one particular story line another one comes along very quickly to entertain you.
The sequel to Corduroy Mansions, The Dog Who Came in From The Cold, is currently being published online and I have tried to give it a go - but unfortunately it just isn't holding the same appeal for me. Maybe I will need to wait until it is published in book form...