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155 Reviews
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88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, subtle and very funny
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...
Published on 30 Oct 2006 by bookpike

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Much to enjoy but it also provoked curiosity about the characters that it did not satisfy
Sir Edward Feathers is living out his retirement in Dorset following a very distinguished legal career. He recollects and the author recollects his childhood - he has been serially deprived of love but has created a persona that others love (for reasons that aren't made incredibly manifest - just one of those things). In his old age he revisits old relatives and friends...
Published 4 months ago by William Jordan


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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the title suggests!, 31 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
Slow to get into , as the story is not told in chronological order, making it more complex to follow at first . However , Edward Feathers is a character who certainly becomes more endearing as his background unfolds. The book is beautifully written and the descriptions at times wonderful. I enjoyed the brief interludes of humour throughout the book and the irony at the conclusion. I am glad that I persevered and I look forward to reading the sequel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old Filth, 21 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
Intriguing, well- constucted and written. Jane Gardam at her best. The reader is captivated until the end when puzzles are solved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Intro to some lovely people., 21 Dec 2012
By 
Mae Gregory (Darlington, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Filth (Hardcover)
Jane Gardam is one of my favourite authors from way back and this book and the characters she has created will linger on after the story's end for a long time. After this one must read, The Man with the Wooden Hat and The People on Privilege Hill to get a full perspective of these wonderful people.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once", 8 Sep 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
The misleading title "Old Filth" refers to the nickname derived from international lawyer Edward Feathers' joke on himself: "Failed In London Try Hong Kong". The book begins with him in old age knocked off course by the sudden death of his wife Betty. The chapters, each of which is often a short story in its own right, then shift back and forth in time from the death of Filth's mother giving birth to him in Malaya, leaving his father, still traumatised from the First World War, unable to give him any love. Imaginative, original, often very funny, the underlying sad theme of this story is how the "Raj orphans", shipped back to England "for their health" were often neglected, even abused, and left unable to form sound emotional relationships.

From the first page, you feel in the hands of a very skilful writer, confident in her ability to write on a theme which may at first seem unappealing. However, I was actively hooked from the point at which Filth discovers that his worst enemy in the legal world has come to live next door to him. Some of the humour arises from whole scenes, such as Filth's hair-raising drive across England to meet a cousin - more of an expedition for him than finding his "way round the back streets of Hong Kong and the New Territories". At other times it is more subtle, arising in dialogues and little asides. Gardam is adept at letting the true, often colourful or moving aspects of Filth's supposedly dull life slip out gradually, but you have to concentrate hard not to miss something. A dark undisclosed secret haunts the book with the anticipation of some final climactic revelation, from which the fact you can guess it long beforehand does not detract unduly.

To nitpick over mild criticisms, there is a slight inconsistency in the style in that some chapters are pure farce, and therefore entertaining rather than moving, whereas others are a seamless blend of comedy and poignancy. I found the "Albert Ross" character very unconvincing, and the details in the last part of the book seem rather rushed compared to the beginning.

Yet, overall, it is well-constructed, a bold attempt by a sensitive female writer to enter into the mindset of an emotionally repressed, highly logical but unimaginative man, resulting in an unusual and original read. I shall look out for more of Jane Gardam's work, starting with "The Man in the Wooden Hat" which tells the story of Betty's life. This sequel may also explain some of the gaps in "Old Filth".
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5.0 out of 5 stars soft book named Old Filth, 4 May 2012
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A really good price for a really good read. Came very quickly thru the post. It was in great shape. Thanks very much!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 1 Mar 2012
This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
what a wonderful book about one of the many unpleasant consequences of Empire-Raj orphans. One old man, Filth, and don't be put off by his name as you will learn what it means straightaway, reflects on his life and relationships. It is beautifully written, each character is so humanely described and the sense of place and time wonderfully captured. You will laugh and you will cry!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing title & excellent read, 17 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Old Filth (Hardcover)
I found 'Old Filth' whilst browsing for authors whose works were unfamiliar to me: the title was intriguing - 'Failed In London Try Hong Kong'. The book is well written and an easy read, in that the story moves seamlessly between the past and present covering the life of Sir Edward Feathers QC whose practice was mainly in Hong Kong. The reader experiences the influences, many cruel and unnerving, that shaped the character and personality of the main character taking them from Teddy Feather's birthplace in Malaya, his education and later retirement in England The juxtaposition of his extreme emotional sensitivity/inhibition and the (seeming) lack of understanding that his behaviour has on others, especially his wife is brilliantly handled. Interwoven are many strong characters and many enigmatical questions which leave the reader wondering even as the book ends. Thus I want to read more about this character.
It is particularly enjoyable for anyone who has lived or visited any of the places where Teddy lived, but not having been in Malaysia, HK or London does not prevent this book being thoroughly enjoyed.
I have added this to my small collection of very favourite books and am enjoying 'The Man with the Wooden Hat' which is also about Edward & Betty Feathers and goes part way to solving some of the mystery about this fascinating couple.
Jane Gardam writes with a delicate touch - a quill fashioned from the finest feather!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, painful, witty, 28 July 2011
By 
Lynne Rapson "bookaholic" (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
Recently read this for our book group. It was that rare thing - a book we all liked. The story of Eddie Feathers aka Old Filth and his life. The story is told through flashbacks but this does not distract the reader. It is elegantly written with a great command of language and atmosphere.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tell everyone about it, 19 Dec 2009
This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
I had read the man in the wooden hat after hearing Jane Gardam speak at the Southwold Literary Festival (Ways with WOrds) I wanted to know more about the characters lives so I sent for Old Filth. This is even better than the book about his wife T M in the wooden Hat. Recommended highly!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old Filth, 5 Aug 2009
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A real page turner, gradually unfolding the life of a raj orphan - about relationships, understandings and misunderstandings and how he coped - gives a real feel of the history of the raj regime. I will read it again!
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Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1)
Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1) by Jane Gardam (Paperback - 6 Feb 2014)
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