Old Filth was a 'child of the raj'. His earliest memories are of his amah, a teenage Malay girl - not of his mother who is dead, nor his father who can't cope. But very soon he is torn away from the only person who loves him, and sent to be educated at 'Home', where he is boarded out with strangers...What is the terrible secret that the children ...
Old Filth was a 'child of the raj'. His earliest memories are of his amah, a teenage Malay girl - not of his mother who is dead, nor his father who can't cope. But very soon he is torn away from the only person who loves him, and sent to be educated at 'Home', where he is boarded out with strangers...What is the terrible secret that the children shared? What exactly happened at the farmhouse in the Lake District from which Filth is rescued by 'Sir' whose 'outfit' is one of the oddest schools in England? Old Filth is funny and heart-breaking at the same time. It is peopled with characters who astonish the reader - monsters, eccentrics, blessings in disguise. Jane Gardam has a unique understanding not only of the human heart but also of the bizarre workings of the minds of the elderly. A touch of surrealism combines with the subtle delicacy of a gifted novelist to make Old Filth a genuine masterpiece.
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-04-24 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) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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