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Old Filth by [Gardam, Jane]
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Old Filth Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews

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Length: 260 pages Word Wise: Enabled Audible Narration:
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Review

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)

Book Description

A genuine masterpiece - funny, brilliant, wise: - 'runner-up' (the GUARDIAN) for the Orange Prize.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 438 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 034911840X
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AJ20BSA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,760 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Mar. 2006
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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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
To be honest I have never read anything by Jane Gardam before, and it was only because this was my local reading group choice that I have read this book; but I am so glad I have. Inspired by and partly based on the early years and experiences of Rudyard Kipling, this is a tale of 'Raj Orphans'. In such classes as History you discuss the British Empire, its pros and cons, etc., but what always seems to be forgotten is the story of the children of those who lived in the territories ruled by Empire.

This story centres on Sir Edward Feathers, and his life. Born in Malay his mother dies a few days later, and his father, shell shocked from the First World War, work driven, and a drunkard does what a lot of others did, and sends Edward to England when he is only a few years old. Brought up by natives Edward at a very young age is sent packing, to live with foster parents, and to start boarding school when he is old enough. As we start this book Feathers, or 'Old Filth' is an octogenarian and has just lost his wife, but seamlessly going back and forth through time, we get some glimpses into his life.

This tragicomic tale is something that draws you in also immediately, and keeps you captivated to the end. Feathers, as with many other 'Raj Orphans' are really left with no immediate family and in a strange country, obviously this in itself is a major episode in a child's life, but as we read further into this story we see that this wasn't the only psychological trauma that Feathers has to undergo.

Being now made into an Englishman of course he is taught to a certain extent about doing his duty, keeping a stiff upper lip, and keeping quiet about certain things, all of which cause problems for him.
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By A Customer on 18 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat are two sides of the same story: the former from the point of view of former Barrister Sir Edward Feathers (the eponymous Old Filth) and the latter from that of his wife Betty. Both books are very worth reading but Old Filth, which was published first is the greater experience. The story flips back and forth between Edward retired and in 80s to his early life as a mother-less child in Malaya, his shipping back to England at an early age to foster parents, his school days and his extraordinary experiences during the war. Jane Gardam really brings the past to life: the sense of abandonment that children must have felt when sent home while their parents remained in the Far East; the privations and fears during the Second World War; and the bewilderment that some elderly people feel when confronted with the modern world. However the melancholy themes are leavened by the authors gift for humour and the creation of some great characters that reminded me of Evelyn Waugh's writings, such as The Sword of Honour Trilogy: Men at Arms, Officers and and Scoop: A Novel About Journalists (Penguin Modern Classics).
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