Ah...how I love reading McCall Smith's books, especially his serials. Like the 44 Scotland Street series, in which the characters live in a building of flats, the Corduroy Mansions series is also based in a building of flats, but in London instead of Edinburgh. The concept of both 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions is based on Charles Dickens’ episodic writing, in which novels were serialized through weekly or monthly journals. McCall Smith pursued this method of writing following a meeting with San Francisco novelist Armistead Maupin. 44 Scotland Street was serialised in installments *every weekday* (does this man ever rest?) through The Scotsman newspaper. But Corduroy Mansions was released online, so readers could interact with each other and the author through online discussion boards.
My favorite character in this book is Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico Terrier (no such breed) acquired by a father who is trying to get his dog-fearing, 24-year-old layabout son to move out. Freddie is a consummate scene stealer, funny and practically a mind-reader. It's clear McCall Smith loves dogs and has a lot of opinions about how they should and shouldn't be treated.
In fact, McCall Smith generally uses his writing to air his views (and he has many
!) on human behavior, philosophy, morality, politics, and our relationship to children and animals, among other things. While I don't agree with him all of the time, I love his characters. His sympathetic characters (which is most of them) think. They think a lot. About the world and their place in it, about art and literature, about food and wine, about what it means to be happy, to have a friend, to age. And they talk about these things too. They have gentle foibles and they are not averse to seeing them. These are my people. There's not much action. There's not much in the way of outbursts or sassiness or depressing pasts. Just ordinary people funbling through their days, portrayed with compassion and humor. If a flat opens up at 44 Scotland Street or Corduroy Mansions, I'll be packing up my family and applying for visas.