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The Man in the Wooden Hat [Hardcover]

Jane Gardam
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009

Written from the perspective of Filth's wife, Betty, this is a story which will make the reader weep for the missed opportunities, while laughing aloud for the joy and the wit.

Filth (Failed In London Try Hong Kong) is a successful lawyer when he marries Elisabeth in Hong Kong soon after the War. Reserved, immaculate and courteous, Filth finds it hard to demonstrate his emotions. But Elisabeth is different - a free spirit. She was brought up in the Japanese Internment Camps, which killed both her parents, but left her with a lust for survival and an affinity with the Far East. No wonder she is attracted to Filth's hated rival at the Bar - the brash, forceful Veneering. Veneering has a Chinese wife and an adored son - and no difficulty whatsoever in demonstrating his emotions ....

How Elisabeth turns into Betty, and whether she remains loyal to stolid Filth or swept up by caddish Veneering, make for a page-turning plot, in a lovely novel which is full of surprises and revelations, as well as the humour and eccentricities for which Jane Gardam's writing is famous.


Frequently Bought Together

The Man in the Wooden Hat + Last Friends (Old Filth Trilogy 3) + Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1)
Price For All Three: 26.49

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701177985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701177980
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,758 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

Review

`[a] delicious new novel...Gardam's writing is lyrical and never strains...brimming with a celebratory attitude to language.' --Financial Times

`Hilarious but also deeply touching' --Reader's Digest

`an extraordinarily rich account of a long marriage, the restraints, the compromises and the sacrifices' --The Guardian

`Delicious and poignant...there are rich complexities of chronology, settings and characters, all manipulated with marvellous dexterity' --The Spectator

`Gardam's writing is like painting on glass: vivid and translucent'. --Independent

"...The characters tell their own stories through flashes of thought and perfectly pitched dialogue..."
--The Independant on Sunday

`a supremely literary and youthful book' --Sunday Times

"full of wit and precision"
--The Oldie

"stylish, Woolfian examination of a long marriage"
--Guardian

`a novel of exhilarating beauty and intelligence' --Seven magazine in Sunday Telegraph

`a special treat'
--Psychologies

Book Description

A box of delights - another masterpiece from Jane Gardam. The Man in the Wooden Hat is a companion volume to Old Filth, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than its five-star predecessor 30 Dec 2009
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a treat for those who have read `Old Filth', Jane Gardam's previous book about Sir Edward Feathers and his wife Betty (see my Amazon review), but also for those who have not read it (and will surely want to read it next), for, though the knowledge of its predecessor will add an additional layer of enjoyment, this book does not assume such knowledge. And anyway, significant though it is, there is only a modicum of overlap between the two novels (and there are even two small discrepancies between the events described).

The focus of `Old Filth' was on Sir Edward; here it is on Betty: we learn much, much more about her than in the first book. Edward we see as the kind of person he already was when they married - a workaholic and unable to give much emotionally; but we would have to go to the earlier novel to see what had made him become like that. The current book begins with their engagement and more or less ends where the earlier book more or less began.

There are more disconcerting elements in the second book than in the first. The dwarf Albert Ross, who is devoted to Edward and knows him better than anyone else does, seems more spooky. His hat is an important part of him, and the title of the book suggests the great influence Jane Gardam attributes to him (though why the hat of the title is wooden we discover in a single image near the end of the book.) She even has him survive Edward, when in the previous book Edward outlived him - one of the two discrepancies noted above. (The other relates to a watch). Betty's behaviour when she has just been engaged (the oddest engagement, to be followed by the oddest wedding) is more upsetting and indeed hard to explain. There is in the first half of the book a note of hysteria.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful sequel (/prequel) to Old Filth 27 Aug 2011
By H. Eaton VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is another wonderful story about the life of fictional judge Edward Feathers and his wife Betty. The first book is titled 'Old Filth' (Filth meaning Failed in London, Try Hong Kong) and the second "The Man in the Wooden Hat". The latter looks at the marriage of Filth and Betty from her point of view and fills in some of the blanks that are hinted at but not expounded upon in the first book.

It is another wonderfully captivating read from Jane Gardam. The characters and places are vividly drawn and the unexpressed emotion in the book is palpable. In her very easy, flowing style we see how Betty and Edward fall in love despite an inauspicious, unpromising start to their marriage. From the outside, Betty and Edward look like a fairly boring, conservative couple, sensible from the start, untroubled by passionate emotions or flights of fancy. But we see how this is really a facade, brilliantly maintained, and how, in spite of deceptions and hidden longings, the two of them manage to hold on to a marriage that is genuine and loving for both of them.

The reason I'm giving this book four rather than five stars is that I was not at all keen on the character of Albert Ross. I'm not sure if I'm not reading him the right way, but for me, he is introduced as someone who will be pivotal to the story and he appears on a number of occasions. I don't, however, think he was necessary at all to the narrative. He was completely unbelievable as a character and I think he could be removed from the story with no damage done! I'm sure other readers will disagree and say that I'm missing the point of him as the conscience or the subconscious of the characters, but for me, he's too contrived to be satisfying!

Otherwise, though, highly recommended!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Orphans of the Raj 7 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this before I read 'Old Filth', and although this novel unquestionably stands on its own, it consistently gave me the feeling that it was making assumptions about its characters and perhaps unintentionally assuming that they would already be familiar from the earlier book.

One of the positives to be derived from this is that it doesn't hang about, doesn't linger self-indulgently. And one of the negatives to be derived from that in turn is a rather sketchy attitude to some characters and events. Terry Veneering, for instance, the oik rival lawyer to Eddie Feathers, the male protagonist, seemed to me more of a plot device than a real character. And I wasn't at all sure whether Albert Ross (the "Chinese dwarf") was supposed to have some kind of fantastical, mystical element to him, which in a way undermined for me the reality. That sketchiness seemed to me to extend to the narrative technique, which slips into using letters or screenplay, for instance, in ways that might sometimes seem just a bit lazily arbitrary. But they do contribute to the story being told clearly.

Now that I have read "Old Filth", quite a bit becomes quite a lot clearer, so I think that's my recommendation: do read them both but in that order. Maybe they should be combined somehow into one book, with the parallel narratives merged.

One small niggle: it's always annoying and unsettling to come upon factual errors; they always make you wonder whether there aren't perhaps more that you haven't spotted and don't happen to recognise. I don't think it was possible in the time of Attlee's government (i.e. 1951 at the latest) to fly from London to Hong Kong in fourteen hours with just one stopover, and it certainly wouldn't have been with British Airways which wasn't formed until 1974.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really lovely.
Published 2 days ago by Nic Rae
5.0 out of 5 stars Important to read this first book of the trilogy; absolutely...
Perfect end to the trilogy; what a splendid writer she is. Loved it.
Published 4 days ago by c manners
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good story line and a touch of historical interest of that particular time. Expressive, descriptive and emotional.
Published 12 days ago by MrsVirginia R Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I really enjoyed it and intend to read the other 2
Published 25 days ago by Mrs. V.J. Howson
3.0 out of 5 stars Sequel to Old Filth
I bought this book because I thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series 'Old Filth', which I reread before starting this one. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ann
4.0 out of 5 stars great second in trilogy
Found the first book, Old Filth, very sad! An old fashioned, damaged soul. But this one (from wife's point of view) redeems Old Filth as knowing more than we thought. Read more
Published 1 month ago by calie
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent!
What a joy this book proved to be, from start to finish. Jane Gardam's characters will live with me for a long time. Now on to the final book of the trilogy.
Published 1 month ago by MaggiH
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Great read, not quite as absorbing as Old Filth but well worth reading; am just starting the third in the series!
Published 1 month ago by Marian
5.0 out of 5 stars Readers who have met old Filth will enjoy this
This book is well written and fills in the characters I had met years ago in Old filth. It was a good read and it was hard to put down
Published 2 months ago by Helen of Essex
3.0 out of 5 stars An obsession with querky names?
I don’t remember enjoying Old Filth very much, and so at the start of The Man in the Wooden Hat, I was already put off by the thought of having to go back to the same characters... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Minijax
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