Monday, September 15, 2008

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

I received an email from the Alexander McCall Smith website which follows. I'm so thrilled! This morning I had my coffee, sitting in the Adirondack chair in the study, listening to chapter one. Go here for more info.

I am writing to you with a confession. Like many people, I am weak - in fact, I am weaker than most. So when somebody comes along with an attractive proposition, I find it very difficult to say no. Indeed, I always say yes.

That's the general part of the confession: now let's get down to the specifics. After the publication of the fifth volume of the Scotland Street stories, I decided that I would give that series a rest for a year or so. I certainly didn't want to say good-bye to Bertie and all the rest of the denizens of Scotland Street, but I felt I needed a bit of breathing space, which would enable me to return to that saga refreshed. So there will definitely be more Scotland Street books.

One might imagine that the last thing that anybody would do in such circumstances is to take on another newspaper serial novel. However, when Iain Martin of the Telegraph suggested that I should start a new serial novel for them, I'm afraid that I said yes. Immediately. I have had - and I hope will continue to have - such fun writing Scotland Street that I saw no reason why I should not carry on.

And so I am now writing to you to let you know that Corduroy Mansions, my new daily novel, begins today, Monday 15 September, in the electronic edition of the London-based paper, the Daily Telegraph. The novel will be published online, a chapter appearing each day, and it will be free. All you have to do is to go to There you will find the day's chapter (together with previous chapters). You will also find a pod-cast of the audio version, read by that marvellous actor Andrew Sachs, well known for his portrayal of Manuel in Fawlty Towers. The podcasts can be listened to online or downloaded for your iPod or MP3 player. The book version will be published next year.

I am writing the story as it is published, usually keeping about twenty episodes ahead of publication. This means that I shall be very happy to receive suggestions as to the plot, and will play close attention to them, incorporating them if possible. Obviously I shall not be able to use every twist and turn proposed by readers, but I'll certainly be reading everything sent to me and will give it serious consideration.

What will it be about? Well, Corduroy Mansions is a building in London, not dissimilar to 44 Scotland Street. The story is about the lives of the people who live there: William French, a wine merchant, and his feckless son, Eddie; four young women, sharing the flat below; a dog named Freddie de la Hay. Other characters include Oedipus Snark MP, an odious politician; his mother, Berthea Snark; and Marcia Light, a warm-hearted cook. I propose to enjoy myself writing about this little slice of London, and I hope that you will share my enjoyment. There will, of course, be illustrations by that greatest of contemporary British illustrators Iain MacIntosh, who illustrates Scotland Street and the von Igelfeld books.

The first chapter will be online when you receive this. William French is standing in the bathroom of his flat in Corduroy Mansions, looking at his face in the mirror, reflecting on his situation and his appearance . . . Please read on.

Alexander McCall Smith

Corduroy Mansions is available exclusively online at


  1. McCall Smith is such a prolific writer! I'm a big fan of Mme Ramotswe, did you see the BBC adaption? I loved it. Anyway, have you read any Barbara Pym? I bet you have, but if not you should! McCall Smith is a big fan, he wrote a good article on her for the Guardian the other month. Anyway, here's a link to the Barbara Pym Society, of which I am a most humble member.

  2. Nan, thank you. Just read the first chapter. I am thinking - I do not have time for this. Need to garden, iron,housework, desk work, 2 books I am reading, more stacked neatly by chair,want to bake some of Nan's cookies and now Nan is sending me a great book online and I almost feel like I am on the computer too much.
    But I love it!! They all can wait.

  3. Yup, following it in the Daily Telegraph - but I'm not giving away any secrets on here!


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