Corduroy Mansions

Alexander McCall Smith fans around the world have been enjoying the daily chapters of his new novel Corduroy Mansions being serialised in London’s Telegraph newspaper.  You can either read the chapters online or listen to them beautifully read by Andrew Sachs (aka Manuel in Fawlty Towers).

Charles Dickens’ novels were originally published in serial form and McCall Smith has updated the idea for digital readers and the social networking era;  not only can you read or listen you can also comment and make suggestions for the plot.

I have just read the latest chapter (45) – a bit of a cliff-hanger, and caught up on the previous few.  In Chapter 42, just after Barbara Ragg has ditched the odious Oedipus, McCall Smith muses on the results of chance encounters thus

So, in less elevated circles, we might toss a coin as to whether or not to go to a party, decide to go, and there meet the person whom we are to marry and spend our lives with. And if that person came, say, from New Zealand, and wanted to return, then we might find ourselves spending our life in Christchurch. Not that spending one’s lifetime in Christchurch is anything less than very satisfactory – who among us would not be happy living in a city of well-behaved people, within reach of mountains, where the civic virtues ensure courtesy and comfort and where the major problems of the world are an ocean away?

We must have given him a good (and civilised) time when he visited here last year and it is nice to have our city so celebrated. Corduroy Mansions is similar to his 44 Scotland Street series: take a house and its varied, charming, charmless, slightly eccentric inhabitants and tell their stories.  If you are a McCall Smith fan you will definitely enjoy this.