Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Filth

I probably never would have picked up Jane Gardam's novel Old Filth had it not been left in our elevator lobby "library" by one of our neighbors. Even then, I took it more out of a desire to let her see that her selection was appreciated than an interest in this particular book. It was my pleasure to discover that Gardam is an immensely talented novelist (with a trove of British literary awards to her name), and that Old Filth is a very enjoyable read.

Sir Edward Feathers is the title character (Old Filth being an acronym for Failed in London Try Hong Kong), a Raj orphan who has lived a long and distinguished life as a British lawyer and judge. Now in his 80s, he increasingly reflects on his youth and childhood. Through these musings, and through his present-day old-age wanderings, Gardam peels back the onion to reveal the incidents and relationships that created the complex character of Old Filth.

The book is interesting, witty, clever and, in a rather refreshing change of pace for me, mature without being boring. It is a book to be savored.

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