Old Filth

Old Filth

by Jane Gardam
4.0 42

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Overview

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

Book One in Jane Gardam's Old Filth Trilogy

Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult and emotionally hollow childhood. Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.

Borrowing from biography and history, Jane Gardam has written a literary masterpiece reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling's Baa Baa, Black Sheep that retraces much of the twentieth century's torrid and momentous history. Feathers' childhood in Malaya during the British Empire's heyday, his schooling in pre-war England, his professional success in Southeast Asia and his return to England toward the end of the millennium, are vantage points from which the reader can observe the march forward of an eventful era and the steady progress of that man, Sir Edward Feathers, Old Filth himself, who embodies the century's fate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933372136
Publisher: Europa
Publication date: 06/15/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 101,738
Product dimensions: 5.26(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jane Gardam is the only writer to have been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year. She is winner of the David Higham Prize, the Royal Society for Literature's Winifred Holtby Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Prize, and the Silver Pen Award from PEN. Her novels include: God on the Rocks, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Old Filth, a finalist for the Orange Prize; The Man in the Wooden Hat, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book prize, and Last Friends, finalist for the Folio Award. She lives in the south of England, near the sea.

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Old Filth 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
One of the best uses of flashback that I can remember. Immensely wise, this bittersweet story is an old man's life. Gradually Gardam reveals the successes and failures of Eddie Feathers, his astonishing luck and balance amid life's rough seas. We come to respect his judgement, appreciate his wit, thank him for his humanity, and love him for forgiving the infidelities of his wife, and for his embrace of his arch nemesis. We miss him at the end. One of the great characters of British literature today. We first see eighty-year-old Feathers in retirement in Dorset, England after a long career at the bar in Hong Kong. Careful reasoning on illustrious cases over his career earns him a reputation at home and abroad and he is known to all by the sobriquet "Old Filth" (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong), a term usually reserved for a group of people. His mind drifts back over chapters in his life that formed and directed him, and we see him reason, and change. A remarkable performance which should earn Jane Gardam well-deserved respect and a large audience.
momwifeattorneygolfer More than 1 year ago
if you enjoy british novels...and i wouldn't use the word contemporary to describe them, you might enjoy this one. I happen to love british writing, so i am biased here. anita brookner is my favorite author. this is in the same vein. excellent writing.
Barb52 More than 1 year ago
What's all the excitement about?, I asked myself. I felt as though I were traveling through the very foggy mind of an elderly gentleman who is losing his faculties. There was far too much wondering what the author meant. Perhaps Gardam meant for readers to feel as though they were somewhat lost. For those of us without a background in the specific history of the 'Raj', many references were lost. I just could not get enthusiastic about OLD FILTH.
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SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
They don’t even see him, in a corner of the room, when today’s important lawyers remember Old Filth. They remember him with a touch of fond reverence—Failed In London but surely made it when he Tried Hongkong. They know he’s back in England, and his wife died, and there was that thing... maybe. But there are many “things” hiding in Jane Gardam’s novel, Old Filth: The history of England’s children, born in the Empire’s farflung corners and sent “home” because, somehow, foreign illnesses might be more dangerous than growing up without a family; the history of war, its confusion and agony and loss; and the history of law in the promise of foreign shores. Relationships slowly reveal themselves in new lights as different characters take the stage. And behind it all, almost unseen, Old Filth is almost accidentally gathering his fractured selves into one—invisible, lost, forgotten, then remembered again. The writing is pleasingly spare, inviting readers to connect the dots, and rewarding them with brilliantly evocative scenes, low-key pathos and humor, and powerful depths of character and relationships. Events shift effortlessly from past to present, from Malaysia to boarding school and university; and every mystery hides its own kind of answer, near or far, waiting for its perfect revelation. The novel is powerfully moving. The protagonist demands an almost reluctant sympathy. And the decline and fall of Empire are beautifully chronicled in the life of a lonely, oddly appealing, irascible old man. Disclosure: Our book group picked this book and I’m so glad they did.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recommended by 2 friends; characters got me hooked so had to read other 2 books to see what happens to everyone.
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Yourgalsal More than 1 year ago
Oh those naught Brits! This book may explain a lot. Excellent tale of Hong Kong and Great Britain Ex Pats starting just before WWII. I'm not giving anything away by saying that "FILTH" stands for "fail in London, try Hong Kong." If you're of a certain age, you'll enjoy this book. Two other books on the same theme have been written by this author. I've already started the second one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book that can be savored or read quickly. It works on many levels and threads neatly back and forth, as one's mind does after a long life, between the decades of a life. It deals with death and impending death, love, lust and repression, cruelty, secrets and opening up, filth and coming clean, loss and loyalty, the old and the young, the mysteries behind masks, the hurts and longings. It's grist for book clubs and sharing or for just a good read.
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Love-my-NookNJ More than 1 year ago
I have several friends who are Raj orphans so I found the book fascinating. I am looking forward to reading the follow-up book "The Man in the Wooden Hat"
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