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Corduroy Mansionsby Alexander Mccall Smith
Reading Group Guide
1. This book was originally published online in serialized chapters. Do you find it flows differently than other novels by Alexander McCall Smith? If so, how?
2. Alexander McCall Smith said of Corduroy Mansions: “These stories are character-based: what interests me is what makes the characters tick rather than intricate and potentially confusing plots.” Pick your favorite character and explain what you think makes him or her tick.
3. Freddie de la Hay is given as much personality as the humans in this story, yet his previous owner only refers to him as a social experiment. What do you think about training a dog to wear a seat belt and be a vegetarian?
4. Which of the characters do you most identify with? Is this also your favorite character?
5. Marcia seems to be manipulating William’s living situation to fit her needs. Is this because she is lonely? Does she have William’s best interest at heart?
6. Eddie is not a positive character in this story. How much of Eddie’s behavior appears to be typical of an early-twenty-something? Are William’s opinions guided too much by Marcia? What is your opinion of Eddie by the end of the book?
7. The problem of the Poussin painting garners different reactions from the characters involved with it. William sees a moral quandary in dealing with his son. Marcia doesn’t even think of the moral implications. What would you do if you were William?
8. Caroline wishes to help James discover the truth behind his proclivities, but she also wants to date him. Do you think Caroline is more self-interested or more altruistic?
9. As Jenny leaves Basil Wickramsinghe’s apartment, she overhears his visitor asking if Jenny is “a sympathiser.” What could this mean? Do you think he is involved in an illegal activity?
10. Jenny works for the odious Oedipus Snark. The MP clearly does not treat her well, nor any other woman with whom he interacts. Why do you think Jenny works for him? Why does Barbara Ragg stay with Snark?
11. Oedipus seems a little too interested in Barbara’s new book. What would he do with the tale of a Yeti? How would public reaction to the announcement of finding a Yeti help his career?
12. Berthea Snark is writing a distinctly non-hagiography of her son. What does this say about her as a mother? Why do you think she’s doing it? Why do you think she named him Oedipus?
13. Terence Moongrove is a bit absentminded. Does his sister, Berthea, overreact to his eccentricities, or is she simply protecting him? What could they learn from each other?
14. Barbara Ragg’s new beau seems too good to be true. Do you trust Hugh? How is your opinion of Hugh influenced by Barbara’s previous poor instincts with men?
15. Many of the characters in this book have feelings of loneliness. Name one and explain what his or her loneliness has driven that person to do. Who finds a way to dispel the feeling, and how is it done?
(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit: www.readinggroupcenter.com.)
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