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)
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.
This was just a delight to listen to. Funny, charming, sly and heart-tugging. I was captivated. Loved the narrator, too.
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.
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.
Fictional characters in narrative
I don't remember the story after a month or so at all, but I enjoyed the audio at the time.
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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