Wry, economical and perpetually surprising, these 14 stories from English novelist Gardam (Old Filth) follow the last of the intrepid, stiff upper lip WWII generation of British ladies and gentlemen. In the title story, octogenarian widower Edward Feathers, "cold and old and going out to lunch with a woman called Dulcie he never much liked" arrives at Dulcie's Dorset house, where shared sensibilities go a long way in carrying them through some awkward moments. In "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones," the aged titular protagonist, "the last of his tribe," collides with contemporary mores when his daily solitary walks on the Common, frequented by children, arouse suspicions. Set in 1941, "The Flight Path" proves a creepy, hilarious sendup of familial relations when young medical student Jim Smith travels to London for a terrible, memorable night during the blitz. And "The Last Reunion" finds a group of four toughened elderly dames, once college chums, returning unsentimentally to their school on the occasion of its closing. Gardam vividly evokes an age of iron wills. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The People on Privilege Hillby Jane Gardam
A new collection of stories from a writer at the height of her powersa celebrated stylist admired for her caustic humor, freewheeling imagination, love of humanity and wicked powers of observation. This is a delightful grouping of stories, witty and wise, that includes the return of Sir Edward Feathers, “Old Filth” himself. See more details below
A new collection of stories from a writer at the height of her powersa celebrated stylist admired for her caustic humor, freewheeling imagination, love of humanity and wicked powers of observation. This is a delightful grouping of stories, witty and wise, that includes the return of Sir Edward Feathers, “Old Filth” himself.
In these 14 stories set in England, Gardam (The Flight of the Maidens) writes efficiently and amusingly about old age, insensitive youth, strange events, and ordinary life. Some stories, such as "Pangbourne," about a woman who bonds with a gorilla at the zoo, and "Babette," about an aging writer who gives away a cast-iron bathtub, are wonderfully bizarre. Others, like "The Hair of the Dog" and "The Fledgling," deal with the inevitable misunderstanding between parents and their children. Two of the best stories are the title story and "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones." In the former, we find Edward Feathers from Gardam's novel Old Filth on his way to a luncheon that ultimately ends in social disaster for the hostess but satisfying amusement for the reader. In the latter, the title character is a gentle elderly man who is quietly living out his days in a neighborhood that has become increasingly contemporary and thus suspicious of old men who enjoy sitting in the park watching children play. Gardam has created characters that are charming and touching and has edged them with her barbed humor. Recommended for all fiction collections.
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Jane Gardam has twice won the Whitbread Award, for The Hollow Land, and Queen of the Tambourine. She is also the author of God on the Rocks, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and most recently, Faith Fox.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Stories, short and quick and with adult emotions, is what we find in this marvelous collection published 2008 by Europa. Gardam has a laser-eye and can have a razor-tongue, but she knows what humans are and what makes a story. In "The Fledgling," we are introduced to that self-conscious teen ready to leave the nest, and the mixed emotions of parent and child are recognizable and painful and funny at the same time. In "Dangers" we encounter a story reminiscent of the UK's BBC radio show My Word, where segments often feature a funny and circuitous word etomology. "Waiting for a Stranger" may be my favorite of all, as an uncertain hostess waits for an overseas guest to arrive at her remote farm cottage. There had been only a day to prepare--it was a sudden request from her minister and her guest is a black African bishop. She is a farm wife and mother, and she'd never seen a black man in the flesh before, just on the telly. There is something terribly poignant about the care for a stranger. In "The Virgin of Bruges," Gardam displays her trademark dry wit: "But even if she had not wanted me I would have gone to her. Frédérique is unlike me. She is a mother, wife of a farmer, beautiful, resourceful, practical, intellectual. I am a small, short man." "Pangbourne" is a story of cherishing another being, sharing their space, and their lives, with no expectation of any return. And Gardam breaks our hearts with "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones," the story of an elderly man, alone and never married, accused of hateful crimes against children. Each story illuminates corners of the human psyche and doesn't bore us with too much of anything-explanations or asides, regrets or remarks. Just short stories that remain long in one's memory.