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Old Filth | [Jane Gardam]

Old Filth

FILTH is a lawyer with a practice in the Far East. A few remember that his nickname stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. But Old Filth is not as pompous as people imagine, and his past contains many secrets and dark hiding places.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Meet Edward Feathers, also known as Sir Edward, Teddy, Fevvers, or Old Filth. Filth is an acronym nickname that stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong, to describe lawyers who weren’t successful in England and found easier success in the Far East. Now back in England, the death of his wife causes Edward to reexamine the events and people of his childhood and how they shaped him.

Old Filth, composed and wealthy, initially appears to have had a soft life. As Gardam explores his past, the reader sees instead a painful childhood that teaches him toughness, a life of hard luck and tragedy that reveals a surprisingly complex and fascinating character, and a grown man struggling to understand his own identity. The author weaves in and out of time and space and changes perspectives, a style that is both riveting and calls for a deft narrator.

Graeme Malcolm and his posh British accent bring Old Filth to life, complete with his occasional stammer. A prolific and versatile narrator, Malcolm has performed everything from children’s books (Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux) to a John Lennon biography. He shifts easily among locations and perspectives, and captures Old Filth’s bewilderment, as a person who never quite fits in his place or time, with poignancy and humor.

Jane Gardam, a venerated author who has won the Whitbread Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, completely captures a world gone by, when men still changed their shirts before dinner and England was an empire. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s life as a “Raj Orphan” — a British citizen born in the Empire, raised by surrogate parents, then torn from his loved ones to be schooled in England — Gardam explores themes of love, loss, home, and family with crisp yet moving prose. The more emotional scenes are told without heavy-handed sentimentality and are all the more effective and haunting for it.

Old Filth is a must-listen for Anglophiles, listeners who enjoy memorable characters, and a perfect choice for book clubs. (Check out a companion book, The Man in the Wooden Hat, also performed by Malcolm, that tells Filth’s wife’s story.) Jane Gardam and Graeme Malcolm combine their talents for an exquisite listen. —Julie MacDonald

Publisher's Summary

FILTH is a lawyer with a practice in the Far East. A few remember that his nickname stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. But Old Filth is not as pompous as people imagine, and his past contains many secrets and dark hiding places.

©2004 Jane Gardam (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (509 )
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4.3 (406 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rebecca J. Leamon Ellsworth, ME United States 02-01-14
    Rebecca J. Leamon Ellsworth, ME United States 02-01-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth the Effort; Terrific Reader"


    Thanks to Graeme Malcolm, the reader, for getting me through this novel, which allowed me to appreciate its entire scope and mastery. I have been reading several English WWII novels/pieces of nonfiction lately--not sure why--so my sense of change, societal and personal loss, and general doom and gloom has been high, and several times I wondered why I was listening to this meticulous tale of a man at the end of his life. . . but, ultimately, the book served to 1. wow me with Gardam's writing skill, and 2. remind me of the value and wonder of every individual's experience, encouraging me to simply pay attention to other people and their lives. One of the reasons I stuck with Old Filth in the darker parts at the start was that Jeanne Ray, author of Calling Invisible Women and, more notably, mother of Ann Patchett, listed it as one of her favorite books just as I was about to start listening to it, and that serendipitous mention (along with Cornflowerbooks Blog's rave opinions about Gardam in general) kept me going. And I'm glad I kept going. The novel is rewarding, beautifully written, and full of images and experiences that make it rich and wonderful. Not an easy read by any means (and probably not one to take on during a dark time of your life, in fact), but well worth the investment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    11-28-11
    11-28-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great reading good narrator"

    I loved this book. The plight of children being send away time and time again is heartbreaking and told in such a voice of normalcy that it makes one who is not English wonder just how far the English upper lip can stretch.
    Filth is a pure example of a child sent away to fend for himself at 5 years of age, and his actions, because of this are true to form. His search for love and belonging is so well written that you can feel the dispare every time he fails. Definitely worth the read

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danzer Indianapolis 11-04-11
    Danzer Indianapolis 11-04-11 Member Since 2001

    Danz

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well-written, beautiful narration"

    This isn't an exciting book. It's the story of an old judge looking back on his life, and it isn't that fabulous a life. But the writing is lovely, and the character development strong and insightful. The narrator is terrific, portraying the judge in a thoughtful and considered voice. No big thriller moments, here, but the narrator and the prose make it worth listening to. I will certainly be reading the author's other books, and I will listen to any book narrated by Malcom!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Thetford Ctr., VT, United States 05-22-11
    Emily Thetford Ctr., VT, United States 05-22-11 Member Since 2013
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    "Charming"

    If you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you'll like this, although it is a bit more serious. About an elderly widower and his life, told in the present and through flashback, as a "raj orphan."

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vermonter 05-22-11
    Vermonter 05-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Charming"

    If you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you'll like this, although it is a bit more serious. About an elderly widower and his life, told in the present and through flashback, as a "raj orphan."

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sy Ann Guth 01-25-15
    Sy Ann Guth 01-25-15
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    "Bit of a dull story"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book was an "OK" one -- the characters were a bit dull, but then that was probably the point of the book. Didn't light my fire.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ironed out 11-01-14
    Ironed out 11-01-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Loved this book"
    Would you listen to Old Filth again? Why?

    Yes, Jane Gardam is a rare writer these days. Her writing is beautiful. Her plot development is reminiscent of Edith Wharton. Her characters have rich and complicated lives.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is a difficult question as there were two characters among the several that were intriguing. Edward Feathers and his wife Betty's inability to achieve true Intimacy after a lifetime together was tragic and Betty's guilt and longing and sacrifice was also so sad.


    What does Graeme Malcom bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I could not imagine a better narrator. Graeme Malcom's British accent and reading was the second best thing about this book.


    Any additional comments?

    Can't wait to read Jane Gardam's other book. She is now one of my favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    private 07-08-14
    private 07-08-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I love this book"
    Would you listen to Old Filth again? Why?

    Yes, the characters are wonderful and unexpected, so alive beautiful and human.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I had a huge amount of trouble putting this book down. I really wanted to know what would happen, what had happened.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothy Laredo, TX, United States 12-31-13
    Dorothy Laredo, TX, United States 12-31-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Filth: Failed in London, Try Hongkong"
    Where does Old Filth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very near to the top.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Filth, of course. Reminiscent of Dickens, but more wit.


    Have you listened to any of Graeme Malcom’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. But I hope to hear him again.


    If you could rename Old Filth, what would you call it?

    Dirt. Dining In Royal Tradition


    Any additional comments?

    Can't wait for the next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 12-29-13
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 12-29-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Very interesting story and very good performance."

    Great insight into the way of life for some Brits. The stories set around the occupation of India are fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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