Sunday, 27 April 2014

Old Filth - Jane Gardam



This isn't the cover of the book, it's an illustration I found.  But is does express the feeling of a man caught between two lives for me.  An international lawyer, Old Filth did well in Hong Kong.  What a story between the covers of this first of a trilogy in which, gradually, we find out about the entire life of Teddy Feathers (or Sir Edward Feathers to give him his proper title).  Teddy was born in Malaya to a mother who died two days after his birth.  His father, heartbroken, leaves the child in the care of his Malayan wet-nurse for four years, until an aunt turns up, takes him away, teaches him English and escorts him "home" to England, and thence to a foster mother in Wales, where something rather nasty happens, so that he and two distant cousins, fostered with him are spirited away.  Them to goodness knows where, Teddy, to a small private prep school. It's clear that throughout his early life that he was always moved on, his father not contacting him, and it is only when WW2 breaks out that he realises he is on his own and has to get on with it.

Simplified version of Old Filth's early life, but there is more, much more to be found within the pages of this wonderfully written book.  Some people (like me) wear their heart on their sleeves, have no secrets, and just get on with life.  And that is what Old Filth thinks he has done during his life and his career - until the death of his wife reminds him that he has lots of things locked away in his memory.

Every book of Gardam's I pick up becomes a joy.  I only recently found out that there are two more books to read - the next his wife's story.  I look forward to them.