The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories. Jane Gardam
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The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories. Jane Gardam

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  275 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Jane Gardam is a writer at the height of her powers, well-known for her caustic wit, free-wheeling imagination, love of humanity and wicked powers of observation - and for the hint of the bizarre and the surreal that she brings to her fiction. This is a collection of her short stories.
Paperback, 215 pages
Published 2008 by Abacus Software (first published 2007)
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David
I first discovered Jane Gardam a few years ago when I read her subtle, completely brilliant, account of the life of English barrister Eddie Feathers, aka "Old Filth" ('failed in London, try Hong Kong'). Ms Gardam upped the ante late last year by publishing a companion volume, "The Man in the Wooden Hat", which retold, and deepened, the story of the Feathers marriage from the point of view of his wife Betty.

Old Filth and his nemesis Veneering make a cameo appearance in the first story in this awe...more
Jeanette
These are quite different from her trilogy on Edward Feathers, Old Filth and his bunch. IMHO, 4 stars is a generous rating for this short story group. But do take that with a grain of salt because I am not a fan of short stories- yet I love novellas. Despite that, even in such tiny crisp exercises, the characterizations are excellent.

Regardless, Jane Gardam tackles some social issues here in context of the 1960's and 1970's that are done in present tense narrative BUT, IMHO, would be highly "sus...more
Trish
The People on Privilege Hill contains stories, short and quick and with adult emotions. Gardam has a laser-eye, and can have a razor-tongue, but she knows what humans are and what makes a story.

In “The Fledgling," we are introduced to that self-conscious teen ready to leave the nest, and the mixed emotions of parent and child are recognizable and painful and funny at the same time. In “Dangers” we encounter a story reminiscent of the UK’s BBC radio show My Word, where segments often feature a fu...more
Iolande Diamantis
Feb 25, 2014 Iolande Diamantis rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elderly readers,
Recommended to Iolande by: My Best Friend.
Shelves: read-2012, fiction
My best friend lent me this book years ago and I only finally got around to reading it as a way to procrastinate through my exams. To be honest it's not something I would usually read by choice. Short stories are not my favourite type of fiction and the themes of these stories are not common place in my bookshelf.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst this is not my favourite book, I grew to adore all of the characters and their little idiosyncrasies. I really missed each character after t...more
Alicia
What makes gems interesting? There is the initial impression-sparkle maybe, or color. But when you really look into one of the magical stones --diamonds, rubies, emeralds -- you see more depth, more color and sometimes more brilliance. You have to keep on looking - a casual glance won't do - to appreciate the result. Precisely the reason reviewers use "gem" to describe some writing.


It is hard to speak too highly of Jane Gardam. This collection of short stories does a lovely job of demonstrating...more
Courtney
Simple, beautiful stories about middle class people of all ages and many eras in Britain.

Here's a passage from one of my favorites, "The Fledgeling," in which Lester is a self-centered teenager who has just repeatedly rejected his parents at an important moment. His mother narrates her response:

And she hated Lester. This Lester. She longed for the Lester who used to come in cheerful from school shouting, “Mum? I’m home, Mum. Can I go out now?” Or, “You in Mum? I’m top again.” Or, “Mum, where’s
...more
Shonna Froebel
I've loved Jane Gardam as a writer since I was first introduced to her at the age of sixteen, by a cousin I was visiting. This story collection is no exception.
I think her characters are all very realistic and I can connect to them easily. Here the title story has characters from her last novel, Old Filth, which was an unexpected delight.
The stories range wildly in situation, characters and setting, but all have a casual tone to them, a bit of the everyday even when something in the story change...more
Amy
I normally don't like a collection of short stories, but being Jane Gardam is such a fabulous writer, I had to pick this up at the library. The first story involves Old Filth, which is fabulous, and there are some absolutely lovely stories in here. A couple were meh, but for the most part, they were great.
Paul Fulcher
Some nice colour, particularly of Wimbledon of a certain vintage, and as someone who lives there I can see the transformation of the area she describes.

But many of the stories seemed more like observation pieces and didn't really go anywhere.

Much weaker for my taste that the Old Filth novels.
Susann
Aug 03, 2008 Susann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susann by: Maureen Corrigan - NPR's Fresh Air
She's been writing for decades, but Jane Gardam is my new favorite author. NPR's Maureen Corrigan uses the apt phrase "wit and weirdness" to describe this collection of short stories. Gardam's economical style and dry humor reminded me of Penelope Fitzgerald, conveying so much with so few words. Her warmth and quotidian details reminded me of Penelope Lively. I'm very eager to read her other novels and stories.
For Corrigan's review and for my favorite story of the collection (Pangbourne), click...more
Griselda Heppel
The subtlety and depth of Jane Gardam's writing put her in a class of her own. I loved this book with its portrayal of decent, kind people finding themselves in situations beyond their control, and responding the best way they can. Events are described with such lightness of touch that the pain they cause comes through all the sharper, and the heroism of the bewildered protagonists all the more heartbreaking. All the short stories in this collection are fine but for me 'The Latter Days of Mr Jon...more
Lisa
Jane Gardam has become one of my favorite new authors. I loved Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat, and this collection of short stories was just as wonderful. To bring to life such vivid characters and emotions within the confines of the short story parameters is truly a gift. Not a word is wasted but skillfully chosen to illuminate and clarify. Those who also love the Edward Feathers (Old Filth) character will be rewarded with a lovely continuation of his story in the first story, named af...more
Meldi Arkinstall
Delightfully quirky.
Definitely made me want to read more by Jane Gardam.
Ann
A nice collection of short stories from a favorite writer.
Jerry Landry
If I were to describe this short story collection in three words, they would be delightful, dark, and British. I love Gardam's writing style -- surreal and dark at times, yet overall very playful. My favorite stories in the collection were "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones" which broke my heart, "The Hair of the Dog" which kept me wondering, and "Snap" with its sense of irony. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes descriptive yet at times mysterious short stories.
Harini Srinivasan
From the back-of-the-book blurb, I thought this was going to be almost a sequel to Old Filth, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a collection of unrelated short stories. Only the first was about "Filth" Feathers. The stories are well written, funny and surprising, in a Muriel Sparkish way. But I could not overcome my disappointment and managed to get through only three. So back to the library it goes! I may give it a shot some other time.
Susie Kelly
Of all these short stories, the one I loved was Pangbourne, which is worth 5 stars on its own.
John
Not a bad collection - one story whose ending I didn't exactly "get", a couple that were just sort of "there", a couple that really stood out, and the rest pretty good. Nice, wide range of topics (plots) - from a ghost story to the effects of onsetting Alzheimer's.
I'm not a short story reader, but a fan of Gardam's writing. This collection makes a good introduction to her style for folks not willing to invest in starting a full novel by a new author.
Amy
This was one of the books Molly chose for me for Christmas. I should have her choose about half my books. She's really good at picking books that are not my usual type, but that I love anyway.

This one was a series of extremely well written character sketches. Several had a little twist of irony at the end that reminded me of a short story I read a long time ago. Maybe "Roman Fever" by Edith Wharton?
Rachel
My love for Gardam's novel Old Filth knows no bounds but her short story collection (much awarded and praised) left me cold. Other than the first, featuring familiar figures from her Filth trilogy, these stories seemed rote, almost cliched in their endings. Of course, Gardam can still leave one breathless with a perfect expression or lasting description but I am sorely disappointed with these.
Julie
I read this while in an oral surgeon's waiting room. My youngest son was having his wisdom teeth removed. I don't usually read books of short stories but I thought that it might be a good distraction.

Well, this is a book of sad stories. Some left me feeling bewildered, others....well...just sad! I was relieved when the nurse came to tell me it was time to leave.
Cmw
One of my all time favourite authors. Wonderful. Collection of witty, thoughtful, eccentric short stories. Character development extraordinaire. Including old friend Old Filth
Such perfect endings, always...

Favourites
The Latter Days of Mr Jones
Flight Path
The Hair of the Dog ❤❤LOVE Gideon:)
Dangers (autobiographical??)
The Fledgling (Perfect for Robin)
Snap
Beth
In this collection of short stories, many characters are interesting and eccentric. (For example, one story focuses on a woman who falls in love with a gorilla at the zoo.) And, although in several instances, stories end with characters getting what they seem to deserve (either positive or negative), the stories weren't predictable to me.

Wendy
I've given up on this one, I can't really get into short stories, I find them frustrating. Just when I'm beginning to care about the characters/plot/ outcome, it ends. So, I may dip in in the future if I have a bit of time to fill, on a plane or when waiting for an appointment. Otherwise, sorry, not for me.
Danielle McClellan
Worth the price of the book just to revisit Filth and Veneering in the first story. I can't get enough of those characters's from Gardam's novels "Old Filth" and "The Man in the Wooden Hat." I enjoyed the other short stories as well, but was not quite as taken with the rest as I was with the first.
Wilde Sky
This book contains a collection of short stories.

There were only two short stories in this collection that actually grabbed me, ‘Pangbourne’ and ‘The Latter Days of Mr Jones’ (which are the reasons I’ve given a 3 star rating), the rest of stories varied from bland to not very good.
Marilyn
I am not a short story reader - but couldn't resist reading one about Old Filth, the barrister who lived in Hong Kong. Since I had it by my bed, I continued my way through other stories and found them delightful. I like Gardam's writing and enjoyed these stories.
Oanh
Jane Gardam is an excellent writer of people's lives - mostly, they are upper middle class English people - and she writes with such nuance and care that their narrow existences are poignant, expanisve and sometimes painful.
Julia
Oct 15, 2008 Julia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People looking for well written easy read
I picked this up by mistake as I didn't realise it was short stories. I thought it was a sequel to old filth. The first story is. I rocked through it. Love her writing. The stories were all great. Would recommend it.
Veronica Zundel
Wonderful quirky stories as usual from this outstanding writer. Those who enjoyed her novel Old Filth will be pleased to see a reappearance of its characters in one of these stories.
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Jane Gardam 4 9 May 26, 2013 06:57PM  
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Jane Mary Gardam OBE is a British author of children's and adult fiction. She also reviews for the Spectator and the Telegraph, and writes for BBC radio. She lives in Kent, Wimbledon and Yorkshire. She has won numerous literary awards including the Whitbread Award, twice. She is mother of Tim Gardam, Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford. Jane has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for...more
More about Jane Gardam...
Old Filth (Old Filth, #1) The Man in the Wooden Hat (Old Filth, #2) Last Friends (Old Filth, #3) The Queen of the Tambourine God on the Rocks

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