Top critical review
on 8 May 2017
Old Filth (which stands for Failed In London Try Hong kong) is a child of the empire - born abroad and shipped back to the UK to foster parents and then to boarding school. It's a part of our colonial history that I'd never really considered, so I was pleased to be recommended this book. I found it interesting how the inspiration came to the author, Jane Gardam, as she passed by a well-dressed elderly man outside the Ritz (who looked like an illustration in an Edwardian novel). She developed him into a short story - which forms the beginning of the novel - and has since written a spin off novel about his wife and a third novel about his childhood. Unfortunately, the book is like a spaniel going through a hedgerow and setting up all sorts of interesting game. Sadly, many of the most colourful birds are not pursued and the result is a frustrating read - at times absorbing and at others pedestrian - which never coalesces into one satisfying story.