Short on plot but teeming with charm, this confection takes its cue from Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. For the third time, Smith (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) visits the self-contained fictional world encompassing the residents of Corduroy Mansions in London’s Pimlico neighborhood. The book opens by introducing an immense ensemble cast, which includes Oedipus Snark, “the only truly nasty Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament”; his mother, Berthea, at work on a “hostile biography” of her son; Berthea’s brother, a New Ager called Terence Moongrove; literary agent (and Snark’s former lover) Barbara Ragg; her odious business partner, Rupert Porter; as well as the hapless, affable wine merchant William French and his dog, Freddie de la Hay. Each has his or her own tale: a conflict at work, a longing for love, the search for new smells (that would be Freddie). There are as many plots in this genial, satisfying narrative as there are characters, and it’s a testament to Smith’s gifts as a storyteller that he’s able to bind the whole together with such a slender narrative thread. His ample humor and grace helps. Agent: Robin Straus. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012 Release date: 06/12/2012 Genre: Fiction
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