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The Man in the Wooden Hat

by Jane Gardam

Disciples of Old Filth (Failed In London Try Hong Kong) will be delighted to read THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT, Jane Gardam's brilliant sequel to OLD FILTH: it is written as an intriguing portrait of Filth's wife, Elisabeth. They are married in Hong Kong at the end of World War II, he a successful lawyer, distinguished and reserved, she with a psychological wanderlust, brought up as she was in the Japanese Internment Camps, which claimed the lives of her parents. They both love the Far East, and take an eventful three months honeymoon in Delhi, Bhutan, Dacca, Darjeeling, Rome and Malta, after which Old Filth's unappealing small flat in Ebury Street is an almost disastrous let-down.

Another threat to their connubial bliss is the less-than-endearing Veneering, Filth's hated rival at the Bar, and feared and loathed rival in love, to whose son, Harry, Elisabeth is devoted. But Elisabeth becomes Betty, the quintessential QC's wife: she takes over the church, joins a book club, finds DVDs of glorious old films, has her finger and toe nails and her hair done expensively, dresses immaculately and joins the University Women’s Club. Her garden is an exaltation and her servants never give notice. She enjoys their life together, takes good care of Filth, and appreciates the deference in which they are held. But Veneering is her constant admirer, Harry is the invisible but indissoluble link, and Elisabeth knows very well that she still looks sexy...

Jane Gardam is no stranger to us. Apart from sixteen other novels, and five non-fiction books, she was shortlisted for the Orange Prize (for OLD FILTH in 2005) and for the Booker Prize (for GOD ON THE ROCKS) and is the only writer to have been twice awarded the prize for Whitbread Novel of the Year (for THE HOLLOW LAND and QUEEN OF THE TAMBOURINE). She also holds a Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature. Famed for her wit and sophistication, she was awarded the OBE in the 2009 Honours List for services to literature.

THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT is still in hardback but is available from Amazon for £8.18.(link above)

Paula McMaster


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