Thursday, April 12, 2007

Old Filth -- kookiejar's review

Edward Feathers in a retired English lawyer whose wife has recently died. In the days that follow, he begins to reminisce about this childhood in Malaysia and at boarding school. His wife's funeral brings him back into contact with a few women from his past and a crime that had always haunted him.

I was unfamiliar with the historical context of this novel (children sent away to the Far East to be raised by natives, so-called Raj orphans), so that was interesting for me. And I like how Gardam kept the jumping time line distinct by referring to Edward as 'Feathers' in the past and 'Filth' in the present. Even his wife calls him Filth (which is an acronym that is explained early in the book).

Parts of the story were very good and reminded me of some of John Irving's best writing, such as Feather's headmaster at school who was always called 'Sir ' and whose assistants were always called 'Smith', no matter what their names actually were. Other parts were not so compelling.

All in all, I thought this was a fine novel, that I would not have picked up under ordinary circumstances, but ultimately I don't feel that it deserved to be on the year's most notable list.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I enjoyed this book as well, and I agree with your questioning its place on the year's most notable list. Most of the "notables" I've read so far were much better than this one.