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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, elegant, sad, funny and brilliant!
This is a lovely collection of short stories---they will stay in your mind long after you've read them. Such elegant, finely honed prose, so much humanity and wit, is rare in a world where cynical, sharp-edged fiction dominates---to the detriment of literature. (Who wants to read Will Self---well, certainly not me!) Admirers of Jane Gardam's masterpiece , 'Old Filth',...
Published on 1 Dec 2007 by Goth lady

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nearly brilliant....
This is a collection of short stories - soem of which are very good, but others are near misses.
I particularly enjoyed the stories of poignant human interactions ie in the stories Milly Ming and Granny and Jake,but found others a little contrived ie Pangbourne and The Latter Days of Mr Jones.
However the mixture of subjects and characters is interesting, and...
Published on 15 Aug 2009 by Eleanor Hulme


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, elegant, sad, funny and brilliant!, 1 Dec 2007
This is a lovely collection of short stories---they will stay in your mind long after you've read them. Such elegant, finely honed prose, so much humanity and wit, is rare in a world where cynical, sharp-edged fiction dominates---to the detriment of literature. (Who wants to read Will Self---well, certainly not me!) Admirers of Jane Gardam's masterpiece , 'Old Filth', will be delighted by the return of Sir Edward Feathers (and his old adversaries!) in the first story in this collection, (the wonderful image of the three old judges under three contrasting umbrellas is a delight) but there are so many more brilliant short stories to enjoy here:--'Babette', with its chief protagonist, the bath, 'The Latter Days of Mr Jones' (a powerful indictment of the witch hunts and 'procedures' sadly prevalent in present day Britain,) 'Pangbourne' and 'Flight Path' amongst others. Jane Gardam is a genius---don't miss this!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Memory is a miracle. My memory is the best thing I have.", 27 July 2008
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The People On Privilege Hill (Paperback)
Memories, and in many cases, the memories of the aged, infuse this collection of fourteen stories, filled with surprises. Author Jane Gardam, two-time winner of the Whitbread Prize, creates ironies and absurdities for her readers, at the same time that she creates poignant and often moving scenes. Filled with wry humor and clever turns of phrase, this collection, like Gardam's novels, asks questions about whether we are the people we think we are, whether we are the people other people think we are, and whether we are the people we want to be. The secret lives and not so secret lives, the realities and the fantasies, and the faces we keep firmly fixed for the outside world--all become fertile soil for Gardam's exploration of her characters.

In many cases, Gardam's characters are lonely souls, coping the best way they can. The unnamed narrator of "Pangbourne" married a bounder but then dedicates her life to visiting a gorilla in the local zoo. Mr. Jones, in "The Latter Day of Mr. Jones," is "the last of his tribe, last of his kind," an old man whose dogs have died and whose life revolves around sitting on a bench in the park and watching the local children play--until his motives raise suspicions. And in the title story, former judges Feathers and Veneering, whose story forms the basis of Gardam's novel, Old Filth, attend a party where the guest of honor never arrives, leaving the hostess distraught about her loss of face.

Other characters illustrate the accidents of survival and the inability of each of us to control our lives. In "Babette," the story of a writer, a bathtub stored in the attic runs amok and creates disaster. In "The Flight Path," which takes place in 1941, a young man makes a life or death choice, barely thinking about it at the time. "The Virgin of Bruges" is a nun who goes to church one night, only to discover that it is being used for a wild, drug-filled orgy. In "The Last Reunion" four elderly women, one of whom is senile, gather at the school they attended to talk, argue, and complain.

Gardam is a master at observing human nature, and as she incorporates her thoughtful observations into these clever and compulsively readable stories, the irreverent attitudes toward life, which many of her characters take too seriously, and the awareness of life's absurdities, which most of her characters do not notice at all, create a collection which is great fun to read. Her humor, dark as it is, keeps even the most poignant scenes from devolving into bathos, and her sense of play allows the reader to laugh along with her, even while identifying with many of her sad characters. A wonderful introduction to the wry delights of Gardam for anyone who has not already discovered her fascinating novels. Mary Whipple
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nearly brilliant...., 15 Aug 2009
By 
Eleanor Hulme (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The People On Privilege Hill (Paperback)
This is a collection of short stories - soem of which are very good, but others are near misses.
I particularly enjoyed the stories of poignant human interactions ie in the stories Milly Ming and Granny and Jake,but found others a little contrived ie Pangbourne and The Latter Days of Mr Jones.
However the mixture of subjects and characters is interesting, and overall it is a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully well put-together, 14 Mar 2013
By 
Daniel Park "danielpark99" (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The People On Privilege Hill (Paperback)
A wonderfully well put-together collection of exquisite short stories, all reflecting on the dignity (and occasional folly) of old age. In particular, I found "The latter days of Mr Jones" to be almost painfully affecting, and a terrible indictment on the slanderous times we live in. There are occasional misfires ("The last reuinion" was rather obvious and self-indulgent)but - from what I have read of other people's critiques of this book - everyone seems to have their favourites. I'm certainly glad I had the opportunity to read them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars another great read, 2 Jan 2014
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I loved the Old Filth books and the first of these short stories is part of that series. These short stories are excellent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good book, 28 Feb 2013
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Good book for anyone who likes short stories, all of them quirky.typically Jane Gardam, and very enjoyable. And also thought provoking.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 31 July 2012
By 
Bookworm (Hampshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The People On Privilege Hill (Paperback)
I bought this book having first read Old Filth and the follow up The Man in the Wooden Hat. I loved them both, laughed and cried throughout, then read the acknowledgements at the back of the second book in which Ms Gardam says Filth dominated three books, so I presumed this was more of him and his intrigueing life. But only the first story was about Edward and his friends, and the others I did not feel were of the same standard. Her style of writing though is still very enjoyable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Veneering on the honky tonk, 6 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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In the opening short story of this small but weighty collection a party is being held by Dulcie to which, struggling through the rain, come three old lawyers - another outing for Edward Feathers, star of her wonderful book Old Filth, and his bÍte noir Veneering who lives next door and was once his rival in the courts of Hong Kong, plus their colleague Fiscal-Smith. Apparently there is to be a visit from a venerable monk, but meanwhile there is a drum-playing American grandchild and Veneering on the honky-tonk, along with talk of Virginia Woolf's daube in To the Lighthouse and a good deal of heartache over umbrellas when the monk arrives and refuses to enter the house.

It is in the interstices of life that Gardam finds her subjects - an old-girls' reunion on the occasion of the closure of their alma-mater, an elderly lady lost in London and then found by her daughter, a woman's devotion to an ageing gorilla in a zoo. No one here is in the centre of things - they are forgotten, unconsidered, alone or indifferently coupled, and they are not much loved any more, though they can, mostly, remember when they were. Yet this collection of stories is threaded through with happiness of one kind or another, as well as sadness and a sharp, observant wit. Gardam knows how people feel, think and talk - she is that rare writer - one with perfect instinct.

Short stories are not that popular with the mainstream of readers, I wonder why? They require less commitment in a busy day and they provide, at their best, a whole world in miniature. Jane Gardam is a highly-polished practitioner of the short-story genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read!, 14 Nov 2014
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Lovely book, but then it's by Jane Gardam, so bound to be. In good condition.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Short stories, 19 Dec 2009
This review is from: The People On Privilege Hill (Paperback)
Following on from Old Filth I bought this but was disappointed to find it a book of short stories and only the first about the same characters and really repeating a lot of the some material. I liked the story about the expected Bishop but some of the stories were very slight.
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The People On Privilege Hill
The People On Privilege Hill by Jane Gardam (Paperback - 3 July 2008)
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