Alexander McCall Smith has begun another fun series with an international setting. This time we are in a neighborhood in Londom called Pimlico, learning about the quirky characters that live in the four-storey building known as Corduroy Mansion. We meet William, a wine merchant, and his twenty four year old son Eddie who is past the age of dependence yet continues to outlive his welcome at home. Marcia, a caterer, would like to have a relationship with William but Eddie seems to always be in the way. Living below William and Eddie are four single girls sharing a flat. Each of the four have different jobs and dysfunctional relationships that sometimes feel a little too close to home. The bottom floor flat is owned by Basil Wickramsinghe from Sri Lnaka. We learn little of him in this first book other than that he is an accountant and has a mysterious lady friend.
Freddie de la Hay is introduced as the sweet, vegetarian Pimlico terrier that William dog-shares with Manfred James, a newspaper columnist. We have yet to discover what happens when Manfred finds out that Freddie is no longer a vegetarian pooch when staying with William.
Several other characters are introduced that are funny and either delightful or ones we love to hate. The following is McCall-Smith’s last line in his own review on Amazon.com:
“This is light social comedy, I suppose, but while I admit that the whole point of the exercise is for the reader to have fun, I hope in this story, nonetheless, to say something about how we live and about how finding love and meaning in the very small things of life may transform us, may make our ordinary lives more bearable.”