Jane Gardam – Old Filth

Long ago, Old Filth – short for ‘Failed in London Try Hong Kong’ – was a young and successful lawyer in the far east of the former empire. Born there, he grew up without his mother, she died while giving birth, and father, he was not interested in his son. Like all those Raj orphans, he was sent back to the mother country to get an education and to return later to find his career somewhere in Asia. Now, Edward Feathers by real name thinks back of his life and different episodes which made him the person he is now as an old man prepared for dying.

A wonderful novel leading the reader into a time which is long gone and will never be there again. The protagonist had the classic biography of people of the British Empire who made their careers in the eastern parts of the kingdom. What I liked especially were the episodes of Old Filth as a young boy, his experiences among Malayan people and his life there as one of them. What was done to him then when sending him to England, was a rather sad story but I assume also close to reality. All in all, an enjoyable plot narrated in a perfectly fitting tone.
Advertisements