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Last Friends

(Old Filth #3)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,903 ratings  ·  472 reviews
The third installment in the Old Filth trilogy, Last Friends will surprise and delight Gardam fans and appeal to new readers as it concludes a portrait of a marriage equal to any in the English language.

Of Edward Feathers, a.k.a. Old Filth, the New York Times wrote, “he belongs in the Dickensian pantheon of memorable characters.” Filth, which stands for Failed in London Tr
Paperback, 205 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Europa Editions (first published April 1st 2013)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  2,903 ratings  ·  472 reviews

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Description: The third installment in the Old Filth trilogy, Last Friends will surprise and delight Gardam fans and appeal to new readers as it concludes a portrait of a marriage equal to any in the English language.

Of Edward Feathers, a.k.a. Old Filth, the New York Times wrote, “he belongs in the Dickensian pantheon of memorable characters.” Filth, which stands for Failed in London Try Hong Kong, is a successful barrister who has spent most of his career practicing law in Southeast Asia. He met
This is the third installment in the 'the Old Filth' trilogy and with a powerful grande finale, a love triangle is finally concluded in which Edward and Betty Feathers, and Terry Veneering's lives are brought to full circle.

Last Friends is not only the story of Terry's background, but also the other childhood friends' conclusion of their roles in the saga. Some of them survived sinking ships as Raj Orphans, bombarded by the Japanese, others met in the school of 'Sir', also orphaned children from
What did I think? Did I think, what? I think I might have enjoyed this more if I had never read Old Filth.

By itself Last Friends was a fun book - at least I found the first half fun and amusing, the whole book could well in fact be fun and amusing, it was probably that I ran out of my fun quota for the week by the time I got half way through, and so had exhausted my limited capacity to be amused. There was a fierce stab of poignancy somewhere around the middle of the book that caught me deep in
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
The last of her magnificent trilogy, and the least, but still extraordinary and compulsively readable. I couldn't do much else while I was reading it and I didn't want it to end, not least because I can't bear saying goodbye to this company of characters. This is the funniest of the books because two of the protagonists, Dulcie and Fiscal-Smith, are her most Dickensian creations--hapless, ancient characters rather than the out-size heroic figures at the center of the first novels. It's also lack ...more
OMG! I SQUEED when I saw that this book was coming out. I adore Jane Gardam and the Old Filth novels have been so stellar. I CANNOT WAIT!


Okay, I finally finished and was disappointed, I'm afraid. OLD FILTH and THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT are both so stellar, complex, nuanced and surprising, that this felt like a novella rehash of the least interesting characters in the Raj Orphan set.

I adore Gardam's writing style and understand why she felt the need to return to this setting and ch
Diane Barnes
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
With this last book in the Old Filth trilogy, we get the childhood and secrets of Terry Veneering, the third leg of the love triangle between Edward Feathers, his wife, Betty, and himself. Not as standout as the first two books, in my opinion, but still a satisfying conclusion to all the "friends" we met along the way. Jane Gardam is a treasure.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Last Friends is the third novel in Jane Gardam’s trilogy that began with Old Filth and continued with The Man in the Wooden Hat. Having read and loved both those novels, I felt pretty sure what to expect in this last book. The first focused on Sir Edward Feathers, barrister in Hong Kong and London, promoted to judge, Old Filth himself. The second focused on his wife, Betty. Surely the third would focus on Terry Veneering, Edward’s legal nemesis (also a barrister and a judge) and Betty’s (not so) ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Why is there no sixth star? OMG, when did you ever hear of a trilogy that just gets, if possible, BETTER at the end. And nothing foreseen by this reader.

What a masterful window into worlds of the Raj Orphans of that late British Empire. And taken nearly to the present day!

There are no words for the understories of the seconds and friends of both Eddie Feathers (Old Filth) and Teddy Veneering. Or of Elizabeth or Isobel or Elsie. No, the superlatives don't even do it. Because these "after tales" a
Jane Ciabattari
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just read all three novels in Jane Gardam's "Old Filth" trilogy (FILTH is acronym for FAILED IN LONDON TRY HONG KONG) to review the last, "Last Friends," and was immersed in this end of Empire world. Here's my review in Boston Globe:
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Jane Gardam could write 10 more books that orbit the world of Old Filth and I would keep buying and reading them. Of the three (Old Filth, The Man with the Wooden Hat and now Last Friends) I think this one is the weakest but it's still a world I enjoy reading about. This book reveals the backstory of Filth's long time rival (turned chess partner) Veneering. I can't imagine reading this book on it's own - would you really understand the characters and relationships if you entered during this thir ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Damn. Trilogy finished. In the previous books, the character Veneering switched from between space to object space, background to foreground like a pitcher in a Braque drawing. This book tells his story and it is fascinating. Everything made sense all along but now it all makes even more sense. We get everybody's end game here too. Unsentimental, clear-eyed age all around. Watch it in your elders. Read about it. Then live it. There is no predicting. This was an excellent three books.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
With the startling outcome of Brexit, there has been much ruminating by pundits on the failure of British artists to capture the prevailing sentiment in their nation. I would argue that they haven’t been reading Jane Gardam.

In a fine comedic trilogy that began with “Old Filth,” followed by “The Man in the Wooden Hat,” and now ends with “Last Friends,” Gardam has brought to life three elusive but compulsively fascinating characters—Sir Edward Feathers (“Old Filth”), his wife Betty, and his arch-
Mij Woodward
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I feel a little blasphemous. I cannot believe I am going to not rave about Last Friends, as I normally would-- about anything written by Jane Gardam.

Her writing is so superb, and it is here, in Last Friends. Moments, scenes she sets up, vignettes. Superb and wonderful.

I guess I DO rave about parts of this book.

Yet, somehow, Last Friends did not grab me the way Old Filth did, or The Man With the Wooden Hat.

I did enjoy discovering Terry Veneering's story, his childhood, his motives. I got to know
Don't know what I would have made of this book if I hadn't read the first two in the trilogy, both of which I deeply admired both as a reader and as a novelist. Gardam is brilliant at developing characters, at weaving their histories together and at making us care about them. All of these have featured before: Veneering, Old Filth himself, Dulcie, Betty. And even though they are mostly dead at the beginning of the book, we dive back into their history and fill out the picture. That said, the ref ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent finale, to the Old Filth trilogy. This one focusing on, Terry Veneering and the final years with Edward Feathers. Ms. Gardam is a marvel. 4.5 stars
Carol Ryan
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jane Gardam’s brilliant novel, Old Filth, left so many plot twists and engaging characters hanging that there simply had to be more. Fans were happy when The Man in the Wooden Hat appeared, filling in more about the characters. The latest and presumably last installment, Last Friends, completes the trilogy with all the main characters finally dead.
Gardam has fashioned an interesting cast and allowed them to wonder throughout the British Empire over most of the last century up to the present. Las
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
the 3rd and final novel about old filth, and his many human connections(ers) to lovers, rivals, dotty english villagers, colleagues, and the modern world encroaching on the old guard of bloody England their far flung empire. it is a bit hard to understand what gardam was trying to accomplish with this last novel, as it seems sometimes not full, not connected, even to the point of senility and maybe that was her point. when you get old, all your friends are either getting buried or getting forgot ...more
Ayelet Waldman
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lord how I love Jane Gardam. This book reminds me of the work of Lore Segal. They are both fabulous and you should read them NOW.
Kristin Boldon
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, own, new
A little dust in the room at the end, making my eyes water. A not-quite satisfying third installment of the Old Filth trilogy. The first two books were masterpieces, I thought. This one seemed thin, poorly edited, and about as attention deficient as one of its narrators, Dulcie. That last was perhaps intentional, but I don't think so. Still, I was happy to live with these characters once more; I love them so.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, english, comedy
This is the third and final volume in the 'filth' series. What I
about the second volume also holds for this one. This time the viewpoint is from 'filth's sworn enemy. It's hard to put down the book once started and the puzzles of identifying characters through the three volumes become more intricate. Very enjoyable.
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
The weakest of the trilogy but still very enjoyable. Jane Gardam has the same wicked wit of Muriel Spark and I just love it. This ties up a lot of loose ends about Veneering's life with Dulcie, Pastry Willy's widow, the unexpected main character. It's a fitting ending to the trilogy.
Christina Rochester
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Last Friends is the final instalment in the Old Filth trilogy, but it can very easily be read as a standalone. I’ll admit to have not reading the first two books, although I think after this one I’ll definitely give them a look!

From what I can gather the series looks at a love triangle between Filth, his wife and Terry Veneering, with each instalment looking at the life of one of the trio. This one focuses on Veneering.

I actually found Terry’s story really interesting to read, especially when
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
But it’s true, she thought, nobody really knows a thing about another’s past. Why should we? Different worlds we all inhabit from the womb.

This is the third (and last?) book of the series which started with Old Filth. I think it would have been better to have read all three books closer together rather than years apart since they cover much of the same ground but from a different perspective. As usual, people are never what they seem. Only the reader has the opportunity to get a glimpse of th
Steven Langdon
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This engaging novel is the third in Jane Gardam's "Old Filth" trilogy about British expatriates in Asia. The first book presented Filth himself in all his distorted complexity; the second explored the ambiguous life of his longtime wife Betty; and this volume focuses on the third side of the series' triangle of tangled emotional ties -- Terry Veneering, the loved child of a poor but exotic Northern couple who is fated to be Filth's rival in the law and in love.

Veneering has a constrained upbrin
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The third instalment in Jane Gardam’s Old Filth trilogy is a disappointment. It feels very much like the publisher – or indeed the author herself – is cashing in on her pervious success. Old Filth was a minor masterpiece, but this add-on, although it fills in some of the back story, particularly of Edward Feathers’ rival Terry Veneering, doesn’t seem to have an emotional heart. It feels calculated, manufactured, and as a result fails to convince. Jane Gardam always writes well, but here her char ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Funny, sprightly, splendid writing and delightful characters in this third book in the Old Filthtrilogy. We learn of Terence Veneering's beginnings and more about some of the now-aged peripheral characters as they begin the last leg of their journey.

Good quote from the rejected Fiscal-Smith: "Sometimes, he thought, one should take a long, hard look at old friends. Like old clothes in a cupboard, there comes the moment to examine for moth. Perhaps throw them out and forget them."
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A satisfying end to Gardam's brilliant trilogy. We find out much more about the elusive Terry Veneering and the always-present Fiscal-Smith (one of my favorites from Old Filth and The Man with the Wooden Hat). The novel feels lighter than the other two but every detail still feels right and she captures the way our friends are the memory keepers of our lives.
Kirsty Keddie
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Continuing the story - this time Filth's nemesis Veneering's unlikely story is unfolded along with some of the other bit-part characters from earlier books. The co-incidences and rambling style get increasingly irritating but an easy read for a tired brain to unwind to at the end of a long day!
Loes Dissel
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The third book in the Old Filth trilogy. All three books are beautifully written. I love Jane Gardam's style.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've finished the trilogy and I enjoyed each one. Having the same characters in all the books, but focusing on a different person as lead character in each of the stories resulted in a unique and very intriguing perspective. The connections are frequently poignant and fraught with opportunities missed and words unsaid. Each of the three main characters impacts the other's lives far more than any of them realizes and therein lies a permeating sadness that carries through all three novels. The ton ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Old Filth (3 books)
  • Old Filth (Old Filth, #1)
  • The Man in the Wooden Hat (Old Filth, #2)
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