Old filth

by Gardam, Jane,

Format: Print Book 2006.
Availability: Available at 12 Libraries 12 of 15 copies
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Book One in Jane Gardam's Old Filth Trilogy

Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult and emotionally hollow childhood. Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.

Borrowing from biography and history, Jane Gardam has written a literary masterpiece reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling's Baa Baa, Black Sheep that retraces much of the twentieth century's torrid and momentous history. Feathers' childhood in Malaya during the British Empire's heyday, his schooling in pre-war England, his professional success in Southeast Asia and his return to England toward the end of the millennium, are vantage points from which the reader can observe the march forward of an eventful era and the steady progress of that man, Sir Edward Feathers, Old Filth himself, who embodies the century's fate.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Anglophile readers wondering who their next favorite British writer will be need look no further than Gardam, who, despite having won numerous literary awards and been short-listed for the Booker Prize, is not nearly as well known in the U.S. as she deserves. The title of this, her twelfth novel, seems to promise that satiric bite British authors do so well, but although there's plenty of sharp humor here, the book has many other moods. Sir Edward Feathers--called Filth (even by his wife, Betty) for Failed in London Try Hong Kong --is now retired and living in Dorset after a distinguished career as a barrister in the Far East. Betty's sudden death sends him on both a real and an imagined journey to rediscover his past as a Raj orphan born in Malaya but shipped back home early and brought to manhood at the hands of a variety of surrogate parents and guides, some good, some bad. For everything else Gardam's richly layered story and acute observation provide, this is finally a portrait of old age, offered with unflinching realism but also deep compassion. --Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "British novelist Gardam has twice won the Whitbread and was shortlisted for the Man Booker. This, her 15th novel, was shortlisted in Britain for the Orange Prize; it outlines 20th-century British history through the life of Sir Edward Feathers, a barrister whose acronymic nickname provides the title: "Failed in London, Try Hong Kong." At nearly 80, Feathers, retired in Dorset after many years as a respected Hong Kong judge, is a hollow man with few real friends and a cold, sexless marriage that has just ended with the death of his wife, Betty. For the first time, "Filth" (as even Betty called him) delves into the past that produced him: a "Raj orphan" raised by a series of surrogates while his father worked in Singapore, Filth served briefly in WWII (guarding the Queen) and had a lackluster stint as a London barrister before emigrating. The flashbacks contrast British privilege and the chaos that ensues when the empire (especially Filth's childhood Malaya), starts to crumble. As Filth undertakes chaotic visits to his Welsh foster home and other sites, Gardam's sharp, acerbic style counterpoints Feathers's dryness. Well-rounded secondary figures further highlight his emptiness and that of empire. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Reminiscing -- Fiction.
Asians -- England -- London -- Fiction.
London (England) -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :2006.
Language English
Description 289 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN 1933372133
Other Classic View