Old Filth

Gardam, Jane

  11 Reviews

Sir Edward Feathers, known as Filth (an acronym for "Failed in London, Try Hong Kong), is a retired international lawyer and judge. Recently widowed, he is left to contemplate his long marriage, the moral contradictions of his career, and the passionate hatred he harbours for his next-door neighbour. He keeps returning to the trauma of his childhood as a "Raj orphan", one of the countless colonial children sent away from their parents to be educated back "home" in England.

Comments from Groups

Another enjoyed read which raised plenty of topics for discussion and recommendations for other books by Jane Gardam. We collectively felt sorry for Eddie from the moment he was born and wondered how his life might have been had his mother not died. Palmerston North 006

Everyone delighted to meet this author, and some have followed up with some of her other books. The one which preceeded Old Filth is now required reading. Christchurch 116

All the group members thoroughly enjoyed the book. Felt it was well written and a really good read. Wellington 060

The entire group so enjoyed such a well written book. The group hasn't had such an intense discussion and found the questions were most appropriate. Lower Hutt 008

We all enjoyed this book. Interesting theme / plot that covers ground that is not often covered. Well written. Interesting structure. Plenty of discussion prompts. Auckland 107

We all loved this book. Such was the wonderful characterisation, we felt that Eddie/Feathers/Old Filth was someone we had known all our lives. Tragedy was made bearable by wit and humour, and the author's grasp of the ridiculous. It was a profound picture of old age. We felt the drawing of the 'supporting cast' was deft and, once again, the bleakness softened by the humorous. Hamilton 024

A mixed review from our group. Some were moved by the bleak reality of Eddie and his disconnection from himself, and the weight of guilt he carried all his life. Others found the book too difficult to get into. The story was peppered with brighter moments of kindness, gentlemanliness and compassion. Nelson 058

Excellent discussion - everyone found the book stimulating, sad and a jolly good read! Matamata 002

We liked the book. An interesting character that grew on us as the story developed. Interesting historical information on the Raj orphans. Auckland 283

This was rated extremely highly by the group. Beautiful writing, poignant and sad. AND the group are now enjoying the sequel, "The Man in the Wooden Hat". Greytown 001



Some loved this but others found it slow and boring. Hence the average rating.
AUCK 439
Loved the book. Old Filth is a memorable character. Great story.
TAUP 006
Thoroughly enjoyed this challenging and moving book. The melancholy memories of the past were often more real than the memories of this morning - a wonderful insight into ageing and societal change.
NELS 040
Much enjoyed. Well-written, and throws light on a dark era of history. Recommended.
AUCK 379
Quintessentially English. Easy to read; story flowed; different timelines well handled. Melancholy with flashes of humour. Great main character.
CHCH 433
Well received by the group bar one. An intriguing glimpse of the old colonial era, and the consequences of children being cut adrift from the bosom of a loving family.
GISB 005
Our group enjoyed 'Old Filth' very much. Discussion was very lively with 2 members of the group having family that experienced the 'orphan' situation. Well-written, fun and down to earth. Looking forward to reading more of Jane Gardam.
NELS 051
An interesting topic - how times have changed! Enjoyed by the group.
CHCH 315
The majority enjoyed the book. However, some members found it difficult to follow. We had an interesting discussion about the effects of childhood on the sort of person you become.
AUCK 199
A marvellous read. Group agreed it was one of the best books we have read for some time. Jane Gardam's prose is a joy to read, she is both very funny and heartbreakingly wonderful in this tale of a successful public life shaped by a tragic early life as a child of the early 20th century British Raj. For two of our group whose parents experienced being sent away at a young age to a British public school, it was especially poignant.
We were ambivalent about this book. Some of us liked it, some of us didn't. Some felt we could not empathise with the main character. Some felt the concept of the"raj children" was interesting and this brought up discussions on adoption, and boarding schools