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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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McCall Smith, Alexander: Corduroy Mansions

  Amazon  

3 stars

Corduroy Mansions is the first book in Alexander McCall Smith's newest series, which focuses on the residents of the eponymous apartment house, a comfortable four-story building in London. It's an odd book in that there really is no central character but a whole cast of them: William, the fifty-something widowed wine merchant who spends much of the book trying to get his son to move out and who adopts a dog as part of that plan, a flock of girls who share an apartment beneath him, and so on. But the characters to whom chapters are devoted are not limited to residents of the Mansions. Sometimes we get to know quite well people who are only remotely connected to the residents. For example, McCall Smith focuses quite a lot on a woman who is the girlfriend of an MP for whom one of the girls on the third floor of the Mansions works. We also get chapters on the MP's mother and uncle. This seems an odd organization, but it mirrors life rather nicely: one hears stories about people in the course of a day--what's going on with a neighbor, his boss, the boss's family. Map these connections out and you get lines radiating from a central point--you--that quickly connect you with people you've never met. In McCall Smith's book, Corduroy Mansions sits at the central point; life goes on around it. Corduroy Mansions doesn't have much of a plot, but that's okay: it's rather like watching a soap opera. One falls easily into the stories of the various characters, most of whom are interesting enough to warrant following. But sometimes the flow of the story is interrupted by conversations that aren't quite credible or over-long descriptions of a character's thoughts: Barbara Ragg the literary agent musing for hundreds of words, for example, on how one's life can turn on a dime. While her life is turning on a dime. The book can also be a little preachy. So, disappointing to an extent, but I wouldn't swear I'd never read another in the series.

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