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Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1) [Paperback]

Jane Gardam
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 8.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Feb 2014 Old Filth Trilogy 1
Long ago, Old Filth was a Raj orphan - one of the many young children sent 'Home' from the East to be fostered and educated in England. Jane Gardam's novel tells his story, from his birth in what was then Malaya to the extremities of his old age. In so doing, she not only encapsulates a whole period from the glory days of British Empire, through the Second World War, to the present and beyond, but also illuminates the complexities of the character known variously as Eddie, the Judge, Fevvers, Filth, Master of the Inner Temple, Teddy and Sir Edward Feathers.

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Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1) + The Man In The Wooden Hat (Old Filth Trilogy 2) + Last Friends (Old Filth Trilogy 3)
Price For All Three: 24.00

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (6 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349139490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349139494
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Gardam has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature; has twice won a Whitbread Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Product Description


A well-executed plot, fascinating characters, humorous moments, varied settings, a study of the ageing process; this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read and offers plenty for discussion. (NEW BOOKS MAGAZINE)

A novel of great perception and quietly killing prose. (INDEPENDENT)

Gardam invents an apparently composed character, and then disassembles him into pieces which- on closer inspection-look jagged and in poor repair: unhappy memories, cooled emotions, a broken heart. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Gardam, the supreme novelist of young girls, also does old age brilliantly and proves that she can penetrate the male psyche too. (GUARDIAN WEEKLY) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A genuine masterpiece - funny, brilliant and wise - Old Filth is now reissued with a new cover.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, subtle and very funny 30 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A gentle yet gripping story (I won't indulge in spoilers see reviewer below if you want your pleasure ruined) that describes the life of a distinguished judge taking the unpleasant consequences of his childhood and carefully unwrapping them to show how they have echoed and shaped his adult life. The book is at different times very funny but also very poignant and tragic. I think the great strength of Gardam's writing lies in her effortless understatement. Too many writers now either have nothing to say or else tell their stories with great big hairy signposts you can't fail to miss.

Engaging and intelligent without being obscure and all done in less than 250 pages - amazing!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and moving 18 Sep 2005
By A Customer
What marvelous characters! This book opens a whole world--the world of the Raj Orphans, those sent back to Britain from the farflung Empire between the two wars--and makes it come alive through the complex character of Edward Feathers, Old Filth. As he moves in and out of time, his experiences bring to the reader not only magically historical moments but characters so beautifully drawn their equals are rarely seen in modern fiction. From his best friend at school to the "Chinese dwarf" with whom he sails back East as a teenager to his mad cousin Babs, the cast of Old Filth's life turns out to be rich and quirky and not at all what many of his admirers might have guessed as they describe him as someone to whom "nothing happened."
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real treat 19 Mar 2006
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Don’t be put off by the horrid title or by the fact that the main character, whose real name is Sir Edward Feathers, is frequently referred to as Filth, even by his loving wife: the nickname of this distinguished lawyer who had made his career in the Far East, stood for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. Otherwise no name could be less appropriate for this old man who is described as “spectacularly clean” and whose kaleidoscopic life story, in England and the Far East, this is. It would be a spoiler if I described it or the gaps in the story which the author leaves to our imagination to fill in.
The book and the characters in it are quirky, funny, sad, and touching; the touches of period flavour (ca. 1923 to 2002 - though there seems to be an error on the very last page) are spot-on; and Jane Gardam’ style is idiosyncratic, often staccato, but a pleasure to read. Her similes or descriptions are never hackneyed, never forced, but always fresh and arresting. I found the novel a real treat.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best novel I've read this year 7 Aug 2005
By A Customer HALL OF FAME
Although I have no great hopes of Old Filth making even the Booker long-list, it is by far the best work of fiction I've read this year - and I've read the McEwen, the Barnes, the Ishiguro, the Mantel etc. etc that keep getting hyped. They all have their merits, but this is the only one that is a work of art. It is about a generation that rarely gets noticed in fiction, the ones who grew up when Britian still had an Empire, then lost it. Emotionally crippled, brave, uncomplaining and ofdten as successful professionally as they were a mess emotionally, Old Filth is their emblem.
Born in Malaya, he gets handed over to a native wet-nurse, and has five years of happiness before being exiled to a monstrous home in Britain. Gardam quotes the inscription on the wall of the Inner Temple "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once", as with exquisite compassion and irony she shows how Eddie Fevvers had his ripped away from him, and how, like the boy in Kipling's story Baa Baa Black Sheep, tried to defend himself and others against violence and cruelty.
He is healed, somewhat, by a sympathetic best friend who gets killed, and by a teacher who recognises his brilliance and helps him get into Cambridge. A picaresque journey out to the supposed safety of the Far East eventually lead to a distinguished career in Hong Kong, where his wife is unfaithful with his great rival (now neighbour). Yet what is remarkable about the novel isn't the linear progression of a man's life over 90 years, it's the way it shows time in free-fall after bereavement and before death. There is a caustic, comic quality very like Beckett's End Game in its portrayal of the very old. Despite all the tragedies of Filth's life, it manages to keep a kind of buoyancy to it that make is life-affirming as well as very moving. I have read Gardam's other works, but this is, whatever other reviewers say, much better and deeper not least because it places no faith in romantic love as a panacea for all ills.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unquestionable five stars 6 Jun 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jane Gardam's novel is very funny, very sad and very clever. Using the style and techniques of a detective thriller the shallowness and sadness of the life of Edward Fevvers -- distinguished advocate, judge and pillar of the Hong Kong Bar but equally 'Raj orphan', unloved youth, unloved husband and unhappy old man -- is laid bare. Through clever but unfussy writing, excellent pacing and narrative timing, the reader is drawn completely into wanting to discover the secret of Fevvers' outlook on his world. Hinted at throughout the story, the dark episode that lies at the heart of the man's conduct and attitudes is only revealed at the conclusion.
Although the final line is devastatingly sad, overall the book is extremely entertaining -- full of sly jokes, clever insights and vivid characters.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Although I haven't quite finished it yet, I already know this is the novel I'll be urging readers to buy this year. It's so good I'm savouring it every night...like Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire, it has the absolute mastery of tone which perhaps can only come at the peak of a novelist's career.
Old Filth (Failed In London Try Hong Kong)is a retired octogenarian barrister whose formidable wife Betty has just died. Unable to feel her loss consciously, he drives across England to visit the other two "Raj orphans" of his boyhood, both women, having an "internal telephone conversation" with his dead wife while pretending things are normal. Interwoven with this is the story of Edward Fevvers, whose mother died in childbirth and who was exiled from the paradise in Malasia where his malarial father lived. His betrayals and reversals make up an agonising portrait of mental suffering which is never fully confronted, but which is also mediated by a gift for irony. Gardam is one of our finest writers, and her perennial theme is how the human spirit survives despite great loneliness and against seemingly insurmountable odds. Her other great novels are Crusoe's Daughter, God on the Rocks and Queen of the Tambourine. If she doesn't at least get short-listed for the Booker with this it will be a crying shame.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
funny and poignant
Published 1 hour ago by PK
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read
I really enjoyed reading Old Filth and fortunately had already bought the other two books in the trilogy so could carry on to read the saga without waiting for other volumes. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Mr. I. J. Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Old filth
What a fantastic, thoughtful, melancholy, funny novel, tells the truth. Some beautiful writing and an engaging, eccentric storyline. Read more
Published 9 days ago by tina price
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved this book.
Published 22 days ago by sparror hawk
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Wasn't sure to start with whether I was going to get on with this book but it soon had me hooked. A tragic yet fulfilling life showing what a devastating effect bad or misguided... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Heather3961
5.0 out of 5 stars ... of a tale both my husband and I really enjoyed it very well
a whale of a tale both my husband and I really enjoyed it very well written
Published 27 days ago by pip
3.0 out of 5 stars Much to enjoy but it also provoked curiosity about the characters that...
Sir Edward Feathers is living out his retirement in Dorset following a very distinguished legal career. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoyed this book tremendously and went on to read the rest of the trilogy.
Published 1 month ago by Nic Rae
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very enjoyable and well written. Delightful character Old Filth.
Published 2 months ago by Nicole Gavaghan
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