Alexander McCall Smith - Corduroy Mansions - Little, Brown Book Group

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Corduroy Mansions

By Alexander McCall Smith

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

*The new London-based series from Alexander McCall Smith, comparable in warmth and humour to 44 Scotland Street

Welcome to Corduroy Mansions in Pimlico: a temple of Arts and Crafts architecture, with comforting, weathered brickwork and frankly frivolous dormer windows, it is home to a delightfully eccentric cast of Londoners.

In the top flat lives William, with a faithful ex-vegetarian dog named Freddie de la Hay and a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest. Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including twinset-and-pearls Caroline from Cheltenham, Dee, vitamin addict and avid subscriber to Anti-oxidant News, and Jenny, a put-upon PA. And round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP, possibly the world's only loathsome Lib Dem, who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows, and many others besides. But what dark revenge is being plotted by his mother, Berthea Snark, and by his girlfriend, Barbara Ragg...?

Biographical Notes

Following a distinguished career as a Professor of Medical Law, Alexander McCall Smith now writes full-time and is the author of over sixty books.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780349122397
  • Publication date: 06 May 2010
  • Page count: 352
  • Imprint: Abacus
Quirky and original . . . told with warmth, wit and intelligence, and McCall Smith's cast of characters are beautifully observed. It's a page-turner with many happy endings. Perfect — DAILY EXPRESS ** 'Bags of warmth and wisdom and easy, accomplished writing that begs for a comfy chair’
Kate Saunders, THE TIMES ** 'Richly illustrates McCall Smith's absolute mastery of the art of storytelling — THE LADY ** 'The author's gentle humour and playful teasing-out of moral dilemmas great and small are there in abundance’
SCOTSMAN ** 'The seriousness is always sugar-dusted in McCall Smith's delight in the ridiculous and his perfectly paced humour — DAILY TELEGRAPH
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Precious Ramotswe has always idolised her father, the late Obed Ramotswe. She feels that she knows all about his life - but does she? Sometimes our parents surprise us, and we discover that things were not quite what we thought them to be. And the same goes for Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's feisty assistant, who also makes certain discoveries about her own past that cause some surprise. The placid world of the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is further disturbed by the arrival in Gaborone of somebody whom Mma Ramotswe - and Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, for that matter - definitely do not want to see. Of course calm eventually prevails - as it always does in the timeless world of these remarkable ladies. Tea is served, and life continues.

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Bertie's respite from his overbearing mother, Irene, is over. She has returned from the middle-east, only to discover that her son has been exposed to the worst evils of cartoons, movies and Irn Bru, and her wrath falls upon her unfortunate husband, Stuart. Meanwhile, Bruce has fallen in love with someone other than himself; Big Lou wants to adopt her beloved Finlay; Matthew and Elspeth host the Duke of Johannesburg for supper and Bertie decides he wants to move out of Scotland Street altogether and live with his grandmother, Nicola.Can Irene and Stuart's marriage survive? Will Bruce's newfound love last? And will Bertie really leave Scotland Street? Find out in the next instalment of this charming, beloved series.

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Precious and Grace

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One bright morning, Precious Ramotswe - head of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - receives a visitor: a woman from Australia. This woman asks Precious to take on a case: to find the nursemaid who raised her during her childhood in Botswana. The woman wants to thank her for being such an important part of her life. Precious has a history of successfully solving cases, but this one proves difficult and throws up a number of surprises and challenges. Back in her office, next door to the Speedy Motors Garage on Twokleng Road, Precious also has a team to manage: Mr Polopetsi, a part-time science teacher and new assistant at the agency; she mentors Charlie, a former apprentice and young man too handsome and charming for his own good - a man who has gotten himself in deep water; and then there is Precious's tumultuous but heart-warming friendship with her co-director, the fiery Grace Makutsi. Precious and Grace is a story about being a detective, the complexities of human nature, as well as lessons about gratitude and obligation.

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A Distant View of Everything

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Isabel Dalhousie now has a second child - another boy, Magnus. He comes home with her at the beginning of the book and she discovers that Charlie is far from thrilled. He sees no need for a new baby.In Cat's delicatessen, Isabel meets a woman with whom she had been at school. This woman, Bea Shand, is known as an enthusiastic match-maker. She is very worried, though, as she has introduced a woman she knows to a plastic surgeon who is now described by another friend as a gold-digger. This other friend reveals that the surgeon has a bad track record: he has been involved with a series of well-off women and has succeeded in separating a number of then from their money. Bea asks Isabel to investigate; she herself tried to warn her friend of the danger she was in but was rebuffed badly.Isabel starts to make enquiries. At first the pattern that emerges confirms her friend's dire diagnosis, but as things develop it emerges that not only is the surgeon innocent, but he himself is the one in danger!In the meantime, as a sub-plot, Isabel finds that the man who warned her of the surgeon's proclivities, is taking an interest in her (Isabel). He appears to be smitten by her; she tries to get away from him but discovers that she has inadvertently given Jamie grounds to believe that she (Isabel) is having an affair. This is awkward, but is resolved satisfactorily.Her final conclusion: match-make at one's peril. Never tell people half-truths for paternalistic reasons. Mind your own business (a lesson that Isabel never seems to learn).

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Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

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Edinburgh basks in glorious, but brief, summer sunshine, and Isabel Dalhousie - philosopher, philanthropist and mother - searches for the perfect birthday present for her husband Jamie. While carefully seeking out a gift, Isabel finds herself at a viewing for an auction, and happens upon an old friend in distress - a friend who decides to unburden herself of her secrets, and to reveal a clue within a painting hanging on the walls of the auction house.Soon Isabel discovers that this secret binds her not only to her friend, but also to another woman. Questions about morality and loyalty disturb Isabel's peaceful existence with her young son and precious family, but she must face up to them in order to ensure that no one is led astray. Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine is a charming and gentle novella featuring one of Alexander McCall Smith's most loved characters: Isabel Dalhousie.

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The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

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Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life as the proprietress of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency gives her little time for relaxation. Nonetheless, she is persuaded by her co-director Mma Makutsi to take a holiday. But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to interfere with the agency's cases - secretly, she intends . . . This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question. It also leads her to an orphan named Samuel. Meanwhile, Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi's arch-enemy, has had the temerity to set up a new secretarial college - one that aims to rival that great institution, the Botswana Secretarial College. Will she get her comeuppance? It will be a close-run thing.

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For seven-year-old Bertie Pollock, life in Edinburgh's most celebrated fictional street has just got immeasurably better. The enforced absence of his endlessly pushy mother Irene - currently consciousness-raising in a Bedouin harem (don't ask) - has manifold and immediate blessings: no psychotherapy, no Italian lessons and no yoga classes. Bliss.For Scotland Street's grown-ups, life throws up some new dilemmas. Matthew makes a discovery that could make him even richer but also leaves him worried. Pat makes one that could make her poorer and her father miserable - unless that uber-narcissist, Bruce, can help her out. And the Duke of Johannesburg, we discover, isn't exactly who he says he is.From what happens behind Edinburgh Airport's luggage carousel to Machiavellian manoeuvrings at the Association of Scottish Nudists, Alexander McCall Smith guides us through the brighter, lighter and frankly unexpected side of Edinburgh life. As ever with his 44 Scotland Street series, his readers will make their own discovery: that its blend of wit and wisdom mark it out as a comedic tour de force.

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Pretty, impecunious Mary Preston, newly arrived as a guest of her Aunt Agnes at the magnificent wooded estate of Rushwater, falls head over heels for handsome playboy David Leslie. Meanwhile, Agnes and her mother, the eccentric matriarch Lady Emily, have hopes of a different, more suitable match for Mary. At the lavish Rushwater dance party, her future happiness hangs in the balance . . .

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Isabel Dalhousie is one of Edinburgh's most generous (but discreet) philanthropists - but should she be more charitable? She wonders, sometimes, if she is too judgmental about her niece's amorous exploits, too sharp about her housekeeper's spiritual beliefs, too ready to bristle in battle against her enemies. As the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, she doesn't, of course, allow herself actual enemies, but she does feel enmity - especially towards two academics who have just arrived in the city. Isabel feels they're a highly destabilizing influence; little tremors in the volcanic rock upon which an Enlightened Edinburgh perches. Equally troubling is the situation of the little boy who is convinced he had a previous life. When Isabel is called upon to help, she finds herself questioning her views on reincarnation. And the nature of grief. And - crucially - the positioning of lighthouses. The only questions Isabel doesn't have to address concern her personal life. With her young son and devoted husband her home life is blissfully content. Which is the best possible launching pad for the next issue of the Review - the Happiness issue. As Isabel is beginning to appreciate, happiness, for most people, is not quite what it seems . . .

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