The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam

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Synopsis

The New York Times called Sir Edward Feathers one of the most memorable characters in modern literature. A lyrical novel that recalls his fully lived life, Old Filth has been acclaimed as Jane Gardam?s masterpiece, a book where life and art merge. And now that beautiful, haunting novel has been joined by a companion that also bursts with humor and wisdom: The Man in the Wooden Hat.

Old Filth was Eddie?s story. The Man in the Wooden Hat is the history of his marriage told from the perspective of his wife, Betty, a character as vivid and enchanting as Filth himself.

They met in Hong Kong after the war. Betty had spent the duration in a Japanese internment camp. Filth was already a successful barrister, handsome, fast becoming rich, in need of a wife but unaccustomed to romance. A perfect English couple of the late 1940s.

As a portrait of a marriage, with all the bittersweet secrets and surprising fulfillment of the 50-year union of two remarkable people, the novel is a triumph. The Man in the Wooden Hat is fiction of a very high order from a great novelist working at the pinnacle of her considerable power. It will be read and loved and recommended by all the many thousands of readers who found its predecessor, Old Filth, so compelling and so thoroughly satisfying.


 

About Jane Gardam

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Jane Gardam is the only author to have twice been awarded Britain’s prestigious Costa (formerly Whitbread) Award for Best Novel. She was also a Booker prize finalist. Her novel The Man in the Wooden Hat was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize and Old Filth was a finalist for the Orange Prize and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in the south of England near the sea.
 
Published October 27, 2009 by Europa. 289 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Man in the Wooden Hat

Kirkus Reviews

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Both Betty and Eddie are orphans when they meet in Hong Kong, and Eddie’s proposal is compelled by a singular mix of love, need and survival instinct.

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The New York Times

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Jane Gardam revisits the complex marriage explored in her novel “Old Filth.”

Nov 29 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

The Guardian

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The wooden hat of the title sits on the head of "a man on a plinth, the wood so black it must have lain untouched for centuries in some bog, the cracked wood perfect for the seamed and ancient face, heavy with all the miseries of the world ...

Sep 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

The Guardian

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But one need not be familiar with Filth's history to be moved by Betty's final summation of her long marriage, voiced as she watches her ageing husband mock-shooting a flock of rooks with an upraised walking stick: "He's quite potty, she thought.

Sep 06 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Publishers Weekly

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Octogenarian Gardam's latest, told with quintessentially British humor, bookends the two-time Whitbread winner's earlier novel, Old Filth, about a barrister who becomes a renowned lawyer in the Far East whose nickname, Filth, speaks volumes: failed in London, try Hong Kong.

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The Globe and Mail

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It's the portrait of a marriage that, against the odds, against temptation, against the contrasting characters of its pairing, against the great disappointment of childlessness, against time itself, against the greater attractions of another, somehow survives, perhaps even prevails.

Dec 18 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

AV Club

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Returning to a familiar character, the author of Old Filth examines an unusual marriage.

Dec 02 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Open Letters Monthly

Perhaps I read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand too recently (and Old Filth is the earlier novel), but even the shades of Kipling seem, in retrospect, a little too easy, a little too familiar.

Jul 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Historical Novel Society

However, there are hidden depths as the emotions of the two main characters, Betty in particular, are slowly uncovered – Elizabeth is seduced by Feathers’ great barrister rival, the philanderer Terry Veneering immediately after she agrees to marry Edward, and for the rest of her life she loves Ve...

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MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Gardam subtly illustrates the complexity of human beings through her characters, and if readers gained a certain understanding of Edward and Betty in Old Filth, they will now find that they refine those opinions after reading The Man in the Wooden Hat.

Dec 15 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

London Review of Books

Edward Feathers, Old Filth, is very clean, and for much of the two novels isn’t old;

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Spectator Book Club

The only person privy to these secrets and others is the solicitor who has enabled Edward to prosper, an internationally celebrated but enigmatic Chinese dwarf, who prefers to be known as a Hakkar, ‘the ancient red-brown tribe of oriental gypsies,’ and hints that he is an Old Etonian.

Sep 12 2009 | Read Full Review of The Man in the Wooden Hat

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