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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Daily Telegraph publishes Alexander McCall Smith's first online novel for free

by Suzan Abrams

If you're in the West or Australasia, you'll know that there's something about those borderline winter months that spell cosy thoughts to ready you for a Christmas mood. For me, it would be warm wines, port, the cheery autumn telly drama, rugs, armchairs and books; lots of thick, fat classics or thrillers as opposed to the slimmer and kinder sunshine-Margarita-paperbacks that went before.

It's a time when I also think of hardy trees that wait with saintly patience to greet me. Their outstretched branches and scattered throwaway leaves make for clumsy garlands. All the time, I stroll the pavement with the usual shivers and sighs. I tramp on a soft bed of bright reds, oranges, russets and browns.

One of the great pleasures of embracing the digital era is the clear knowledge of forests being saved and the smug silence of blowing regards wishes as they live out their years in happy retirement. Think a holiday idea of reclining on sand beds - allow that for the palms - or reaching out to the skies with the grandeur of kings.

These days, I spend a lot more time on my laptop reading world affairs and literary reviews, newspapers and the many subjects of the arts. When I can, I catch the odd modern classic , Im unlikely to find in a bookshop, say someone like Willa Cather.

But here now and apologies for being the slightly late and bungling bell-ringer, but the Daily Telegraph has commissioned bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith famed for all those delightful African detective agency tales; to write an online novel exclusively for the newspaper. It is the Rhodesia-born writer's first e-book.

Each weekday sees the online publication of a new chapter and besides, you can have your story delivered to an email box or through a feed. Otherwise, simply settle for a listen. At the moment, the paper features chapter 4 although it's easy enough to catch up on chapters 1, 2 and 3 with the right clicks. Be prepared for 20 in all.

Smith's Corduroy Mansions hints at being a modern fashionable and extremely elegant novel.
Do have a Look-See and happy reading if you like what you find.

Alexander McCall Smith's new website

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