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.
"Witty, subversive, moving." (The Times, London)
"[T]old with quintessentially British humor.... Gardam's prose is witty and precise." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm a designer (interiors and graphics) with an English degree. I recovered my love of reading after a disastrous bout with grad school.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
This was just a delight to listen to. Funny, charming, sly and heart-tugging. I was captivated. Loved the narrator, too.
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.
This is another wonderful book. Perhaps not quite as great as All Filth, but very fulfilling. A wonderful writer, and very well read.
I hated to finish the book
Unlike "Old Filth" where Eddie's character is fairly thoroughly examined, Betty remained fairly unknown to me - for one thing, the bit about her time in Japanese camps is frustratingly alluded to a couple of times, but otherwise completely dropped. Tough to say more without invoking spoilers.
I strongly recommend the book for its descriptions of Hong Kong, as well as the minor characters (who interested me more than Betty herself). Until the end, I had seen these two novels as completely complementary, more or less standing alone. However, the ending of "Hat", which I found riveting as opposed to the slow start, serves as a highly satisfying closure for the combined stories. Reading "Old Filth" first would make more sense in terms of background for this one; reading this one first would cause a "spoiler effect" for some of the issues raised in the other book that were resolved here.
Graeme Malcolm narrates both books well.
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