9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
What's the point?,
This review is from: Old Filth (Paperback)
My wife recommended this novel to me after having laughed out loud several times during her reading of it.I'm afraid that the odd smile was all that it raised in me.
I found the central character very difficult to get to know.He seemed to change shape depending on the circumstance in which Gardam placed him.At times he is decent and deeply thoughtful,at others capable of crass insensitivity especially towards people who work for him.Relationships which are at one minute portrayed as fundamental to him are forgotten for pages on end,then dragged back into view to provide impetus to a flagging plot.Similarly,the characters around him flit in and out of his life sporting character traits which seemingly differ to meet the particular requirements of that stage of the novel.They also have the endearing habit of turning up completely out of the blue at just the right time to save Filth's skin or further his career or to furnish touching or humorous moments for the reader.I'll allow a novelist one such event in a book before I start to suspect a serious lack of direction in the plot,here there were several.
In the end,I was at a loss to identify the purpose of the novel.What was being said about Filth apart from the fact that he had had an unusual upbringing and was irresistible to most women?Was it that his childhood experiences were being shown to have some impact on his later career?Was this some kind of indictment of how children from colonial families were treated between the wars?Or is the novel just a mildly jokey,sometimes sentimental,picaresque entertainment dressed up as something rather grander?
I was surprised by the number of supporters of this book and thought perhaps I was missing something,then I remembered the Queen Mary section and knocked it down to two stars from three-if ever a sequence in a novel smacked of desperation for material,it was that one.