First in the Old Filth trilogy. A New York Times Notable Book. “Old Filth belongs in the Dickensian pantheon of memorable characters” (The New York Times Book Review).
Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult childhood. Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.
Borrowing from biography and history, Jane Gardam has written an unforgettable novel reminiscent of Evan S. Connell’s books Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge, and Rudyard Kipling’s Baa Baa, Black Sheep. Retracing much of the twentieth century’s torrid and momentous history, Old Filth is the first installment of an immersive and atmospheric trilogy that, taken together, tells the moving story of a long, complicated marriage.
is an extraordinary novel–the structure, the characters, the sweep of time.”–Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
“I don’t know why Gardam isn’t universally celebrated and beloved. Her prose is dazzling, and she writes with a kind of subdued but wicked humor that takes a moment to clamp down on you.”–Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies
“I think Jane Gardam is a genius and should be far more widely read. She has actually made me gasp, slap a book shut and say, ‘She can’t do that!, ‘ open it up and realize that she can, she has, and it works.”–Denise Mina, author of Conviction
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
The New York Times Book Review
The Washington Post
The San Francisco Chronicle
New York Magazine
The Globe & Mail
“Will bring immense pleasure to readers who treasure fiction that is intelligent, witty, sophisticated and–a quality encountered all too rarely in contemporary culture–adult.”–The Washington Post
“Gardam is an exquisite storyteller, picking up threads, laying them down, returning to them and giving them new meaning . . . Old Filth
is sad, funny, beautiful and haunting.”–The Seattle Times
“A masterpiece of storytelling.”–The Dallas Morning News
“[Jane Gardam is] the best contemporary British writer you probably haven’t heard of.”–Maureen Corrigan, NPR