Jennifer's Reviews > The Man in the Wooden Hat

The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam
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May 16, 13

bookshelves: 2011
Read from February 27 to March 04, 2011

** spoiler alert ** The Man in the Wooden Hat is a companion piece to Gardam's wonderful Old Filth (re)telling the story of Mr and Mrs Feathers from the perspective of Betty Feathers. In some respects this novel gives us more insight into their marriage and the unspoken agreements made between husband and wife that make a marriage work. But in other ways, this new version left me wanting more. Despite being written from Betty's point of view, I was often unclear of her motivations. Was I the only person that wasn't completely sure why she was actually excited to accept Filth's proposal or why Veneering cast such a spell over her? The love triangle is clearly really with Harry, Veneering's son that Betty takes to instantly. Betty was meant to mother an entire brood but she suffers a miscarriage and a hysterectomy early in her marriage which eliminates that possibility. Harry becomes the surrogate for those feelings despite only seeing him a few random times. And yet, the heavy weight of her relationship with Veneering seems to hang over Filth throughout his marriage until the wonderful shades-of-Ethan-Frome ending that brings rivals Filth and Veneering together as neighbors and unexpected companions.

May 16 2013 - having just read the latest (last?) installment Last Friends I came back to this review and had to rethink my rating. Last Friends seems the weakest of the three (until I read a fourth and then up it's rating as I'm doing here) and it highlighted for me how much I really enjoyed this middle story of Betty and Veneering.
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