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Corduroy Mansions Books In Order

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Publication Order of Corduroy Mansions Books

Corduroy Mansions (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dog Who Came in from the Cold (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Conspiracy of Friends (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Corduroy Mansions is a series of novels written by Alexander McCall Smith which delve into the lives of the men and women who live in a crumbling mansion block in London.

+The Story
The Corduroy Mansions series owes its existence to a conversation Alexander McCall Smith had with Armistead Maupin. Maupin was famous for his ‘Tales of the City’ saga which was serialized in a newspaper over a long period of time.

Smith was already an established author at this point in time but he had never written serial novels in newspapers. All that changed when he spoke to Maupin. Maupin had no interest in returning to serial novels and he did not encourage Smith to follow that path.

However, their conversation sparked in Smith an idea for a story told over a series of chapters serialized in a newspaper. This gave birth to a novel set in Edinburgh a chapter of whose story the author wrote and saw published in the newspapers every single day.

Smith wrote the novel for roughly five years before finally deciding to give the story a rest in favor of experimenting with a new setting. The tale of Corduroy Mansions came to the fro of the author’s mind at this point in time.

Smith spoke to The Daily Telegraph and they agreed to publish his stories set in the Corduroy Mansions universe in their online edition. Smith thought he would find satisfaction in taking the same path he had followed with his Edinburgh story.

But there was something special about the Corduroy Mansions story, something that compelled Smith to pursue it with a little more fervor than he had his other serial novel.

Within six months, the author had compiled his first chapters into a complete volume, and he was already hard at work to produce another volume. No matter how many Corduroy Mansions stories Smith wrote, there were always more stories bubbling up in his mind.

And the author’s fans reacted in kind, picking up Alexander McCall Smith’s stories almost as fast as he was churning them out.

The books take place in a block of flats nicknamed the Corduroy Mansions. The books take a peek into the lives of the people that call Corduroy Mansions home, the various tenants and cleaners and managers, and their neighbors.

At the center of all the Corduroy stories is William French. William is a widower in his fifties. A wine merchant, the bane of William’s existence is Eddie, his son, a young man in his twenties who has refused to leave home.

Eddie doesn’t see any purpose in abandoning the comforts of William’s unit for the complexities and difficulties of independent living. William does what he can to coerce the boy out the door.

But he cannot always give the issue his full attention. Eddie, on his own, is already a handful. Unfortunately, Willian must also contend with Marcia, a caterer who would love nothing better than to marry than Widower.

In truth, Marcia would marry anyone but right now, she has her sights set firmly on William. William occupies the top floor of the building. His immediate neighbors below are four young women.

Beyond them, you have Caroline who is studying fine art at a Masters level and is ashamed of the fact that she comes from a rural background. Caroline and James get along because he is also artistic.

However, James isn’t too sure about his proclivities, so neither he nor Caroline knows what to do with their relationship. These characters and more occupy William’s building and fill his life with all manner of excitement.

It should be noted that the Corduroy Mansions books do not explore any particular story. There is no underlying plot thread driving the various books. Each volume merely throws the spotlight on the ordinary lives of an extraordinary group of individuals.

That reason alone got a lot of people in the publishing arena thinking that the Corduroy Mansions series wouldn’t last long. They saw no concrete reason for Alexander McCall Smith to push the story beyond the first volume when he had no story of significance to tell.

Of course, most such voices were quickly silenced when Smith proceeded to publish a second and a third volume in the Corduroy series. Smith will be the first to admit that his series has no real story; or rather, there’s a story but it is pretty simple and straightforward, so much so that it could be argued that nothing happens in the first volume.

But that doesn’t bother the author because his books are character-based. He keeps running back to the Corduroy books because he wants to put his characters into situations where they can talk.

Smith wants to delve into the psyches of his protagonists to see what makes them tick, and that drives him to keep churning out new Corduroy Mansions chapters.

+The Author
Alexander McCall Smith is a British writer who started out as an expert on bioethics before finally finding his voice as an author of fiction. Born in Zimbabwe back when it was still called Rhodesia, Smith is best known for the prodigious rate at which he writes.

+Corduroy Mansions
William lives in the genteel block in London affectionately known as Corduroy Mansions. The wine merchant is a middle-aged widower surrounded by a litany of quirky characters that keep his life interesting.

You have Eddie, his son who refuses to leave home. Then there’s Oedipus Snark, the politician so horrible that even his mother hates him; Barbara, his girlfriend who would love to become his wife, a vitamin evangelist, an art student and many more.

+The Dog Who Came in From the Cold
William is back. The middle-aged widower is still living in the crumbling mansion block in the Pimlico neighborhood, London. And as always, his neighbors won’t give him peace.

This time, though, William is to blame. The wine merchant was convinced to help the government battle spies. But things seem to be backfiring. No one really knows what the government is up to.

But the repercussions are felt throughout William’s apartment block.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Corduroy Mansions

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