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The Man in the Wooden Hat | [Jane Gardam]

The Man in the Wooden Hat

The New York Times called Sir Edward Feathers one of the most memorable characters in modern literature. A lyrical novel that recalls his fully lived life, Old Filth has been acclaimed as Jane Gardam's masterpiece. And now that novel has been joined by a companion that also bursts with humor and wisdom: The Man in the Wooden Hat. As a portrait of a marriage, with all the bittersweet secrets and surprising fulfillment of the 50-year union of two remarkable people, this novel is a triumph.
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times called Sir Edward Feathers one of the most memorable characters in modern literature. A lyrical novel that recalls his fully lived life, Old Filth has been acclaimed as Jane Gardam's masterpiece, a book where life and art merge. And now that beautiful, haunting novel has been joined by a companion that also bursts with humor and wisdom: The Man in the Wooden Hat.

Old Filth was Eddie's story. The Man in the Wooden Hat is the history of his marriage told from the perspective of his wife, Betty, a character as vivid and enchanting as Filth himself. They met in Hong Kong after the war. Betty had spent the duration in a Japanese internment camp. Filth was already a successful barrister, handsome, fast becoming rich, in need of a wife but unaccustomed to romance. A perfect English couple of the late 1940s. As a portrait of a marriage, with all the bittersweet secrets and surprising fulfillment of the 50-year union of two remarkable people, the novel is a triumph.

The Man in the Wooden Hat is fiction of a very high order from a great novelist working at the pinnacle of her considerable power.

©2009 Jane Gardam (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Witty, subversive, moving." (The Times, London)

"[T]old with quintessentially British humor.... Gardam's prose is witty and precise." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Michele SEATTLE, WA, United States 05-08-11
    Michele SEATTLE, WA, United States 05-08-11 Member Since 2009

    I'm a designer (interiors and graphics) with an English degree. I recovered my love of reading after a disastrous bout with grad school.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Other Half"

    Here Gardam addresses the same story told in "Old Filth", from the point of view of his wife Betty. The long-married Feathers live on parallel tracks that almost never intersect. Yet their union, defined by a great secret, is enduring and mutually devoted. I was skeptical that Betty's story could match Edward's -- but it is equally engrossing, enlarging on events in the first volume, and full of surprises. In the end, the reader is treated to the greatest surprise of all, the eventual triumph of Edward, a fox in possum's clothing. I read this book immediately after "Old Filth", and cannot remember a more satisfying literary experience.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    regina New Sharon, ME, United States 05-07-12
    regina New Sharon, ME, United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2010
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    "great read"

    really enjoyed the story and setting. Jane Gardam has a gift of taking you back in time to the 30s and bringing you back to the present.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    i. Ski Duluth, Minnesota 02-18-12
    i. Ski Duluth, Minnesota 02-18-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Old Filth Married"

    Read "Old Filth" first, and then dig into this book. It is an expansion of some of the stories from Old Filth, but much more tender in its treatment of long-term marriage. The story is set in Hong Kong, post WWII and continues in London, and then back and forth. If you have ever wondered about "settling" in a marriage, this is a good book -- it really addresses the compromises we all make when we commit our lives to a partnership with another person. The tale and its telling is wonderful. I will listen again. Jane Gardam is one of my new favorite authors. I hope there will be more. Graeme Malcolm is a great reader.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alix 01-25-12
    Alix 01-25-12
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    "Wonderful book"

    A wonderful addition to _Old Filth_. I did not want to let go of the characters when I'd finished it and was so pleased to learn that I could continue our "relationship" a bit longer. Wonderful reader.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 03-28-14
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 03-28-14 Member Since 2005

    malfi

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    "Betty's Point of View"

    Another lovely installment in the Old Filth trilogy, this one told from the point of view of Betty Macintosh Feathers, Old Filth's wife. Like Edward Feathers, Betty was raised in the far eastern parts of the British commonwealth, and she, too, had lost her parents at a young age. She understands his loneliness and the pleas that comes with his proposal: "Don't ever leave me." Yet almost as soon as she accepts, Betty has regrets--particularly when she meets Eddie's arch rival, Terry Veneering. But a promise is a promise . . .

    This is the same story we heard in Old Filth, at least from the time that Betty meets Edward Feathers, but here we get her perspective. It's quite intriguing to see how Eddie's interpretation of events differs from the reality that Betty reveals, and to learn of secrets that apparently were never revealed. Like so many women of her day, Betty focused on fulfilling her wifely duties and appeared to lead a rather dull life focused on her tulips, dinner parties, and her husband's career. Gardam lets us see, however, that she has a vibrant inner life, full of secret memories, dreams, and loves. Her relationship with Harry, the Veneerings' young son, is one such secret. Unable to bear children, Betty becomes attached to Harry, a charming and clever boy whom Filth later says is "the only one she ever really loved."

    The Man in the Wooden Hat serves as a reminder that even ordinary lives can be extraordinary.

    I'm looking forward to the last book in the Old Filth series and will be seeking out more novels by Jane Gardam, whose writing is beautiful, original, amusing, and moving. And Graeme Malcolm is the perfect reader. (I just started the third book and am very disappointed in the new reader.)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jana Kettering, OH, United States 05-13-12
    Jana Kettering, OH, United States 05-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    "delightful"

    This was just a delight to listen to. Funny, charming, sly and heart-tugging. I was captivated. Loved the narrator, too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay in DC Washington, DC United States 06-25-12
    Kay in DC Washington, DC United States 06-25-12 Member Since 2002

    Kay

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    "Love it!"

    I thought I might not like this addendum to Gardam's "Old Filth," which I really enjoyed. I was expecting a lot of repetition perhaps. Or something that would skewer my enjoyment of "Old Filth". But no. It's quite wonderful to see the marriage of Old Filth through the eyes of his wife, Betty. The author answers questions that you didn't even realize you had. Thoroughly enjoyable.If you liked, "Old Filth", as I and the other members of my book club did, this one is a must.The reader is terrific. Keeps the voices separate and clear without overly dramatizing dialog. I have no complaints about this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Weingarten Houston, TX, United States 06-19-12
    Weingarten Houston, TX, United States 06-19-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Another wonderful book by Gardam"

    This is another wonderful book. Perhaps not quite as great as All Filth, but very fulfilling. A wonderful writer, and very well read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 12-20-11
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 12-20-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Wonderful expansion of Old Filth"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I hated to finish the book


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 09-25-13
    Prsilla 09-25-13 Member Since 2007

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "ADULTERY, INTRIGUE, IMPLIED BLACKMAIL, OH MY!"

    I would be lost in this book if I had not read Old Filth first. This book takes the same characters and manages to tell more story. It focuses on Eddie's wife, Betty. She has a predicament. She agrees to marry Eddie and then a few hours later meets a real charmer, married but oh goodness! He has white blond hair, piercing blue eyes. He speaks several languages. His Chinese wife seems to have been a bad choice. Betty is planning a wedding, but Eddie doesn't seem to realize how low her funds are. He has plenty of money. She spends the last of her money to have an aqua green silk dress made with matching purse and shoes, but wears it to an assignation so sweaty and shameful that when she finally gets back to the hotel, she throws it in the wastebasket. She resurrects it for the intended occasion. . . . And the matching evening bag comes back to haunt her! See my review of Old Filth. All I said there is true of this Book II. Not to put anyone off, once Betty is married to Eddie, she is faithful. So it wasn't really adultery except, well, yes the man is married to someone else and Betty isn't yet married to anyone. This is an exciting book considering how little outright sex or violence it contains.

    I HAD NO END OF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY WITH THIS RECORDING. IT JAMMED MY IPOD. THREE DIFFERENT AUDIBLE TECHNICIANS TRIED TO HELP ME. I ENDED UP LISTENING TO IT AT THE COMPUTER. WELL WORTHWHILE. PLEASE, AUDIBLE, FIX THIS PROBLEM BECAUSE I HOPE TO LISTEN AGAIN AND AGAIN.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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