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The Man in the Wooden Hat

(Old Filth #2)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  6,023 ratings  ·  850 reviews
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 Wo ...more
Paperback, 233 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Europa Editions (first published 2009)
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Diane Barnes
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jane Gardam is just an incredible author. I have read several of her books and loved them all. This book is the second in the Old Filth trilogy, and I finished it reluctantly. I can't be too sad because there is another one waiting in the wings. This is a love/hate triangle between Edward Feathers (Old Filth), his wife Betty, and Teddy Veneering, a rival attorney in Feather's world of Hong Kong and London. Gardam is a master of understatement, and can tell more in describing a glance or a raised ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Just so you know where my prejudices lie: I read Old Filth then Man in the Wooden Hat and fell in love with Jane Gardam. So I am astonished to read negative reviews of Wooden Hat. In it, Gardam goes where so very few writers do.

Perhaps because I am no longer young, this book spoke clearly to me of the compromises, the subtle adjustments, the losses and the satisfactions of the flexible definition of 'love' over a lifetime. Because the characters are English and of a class and time where outburs
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a marvellous writer Jane Gardam is! ‘The Man in the Wooden Hat’ is the 2nd novel in the Old Filth trilogy, telling the story from his wife Betty’s perspective. The quiet desperation of Betty’s voice was at times hard to bear for me, yet at the same time she expresses a love of life that never diminishes. I can’t express how very sensitve and moving Jane Gardam told her side of the story. Highly recommended!
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing

The Man in the Wooden Hat is the companion piece to Jane Gardam’s wonderful novel Old Filth, about Sir Edward Feathers, a Raj orphan who becomes first a highly regarded barrister in Hong Kong and then an important judge at Home (England). This second book is from the perspective of Sir Edward’s wife, Betty (Elisabeth Macintosh). These two books fit together most perfectly, and they remind me somewhat of Alan Ayckbourn’s famous trilogy, The Norman Conquests, which I was lucky enough to see
From the blurb:
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.

... a portrait of a marriage, with al
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read Old Filth about a decade ago.

1. You absolutely don't need to read Old Filth before this one.
2. I LOVED this book.
3. Gardam is one of those writers who can be wry and funny and penetrating all at the same time and showing very little effort.
4. I have no idea why I waited so long to follow up OF with this one even though I have owned it forever.
5. I love this book so much I want to marry it.
6. It was sweet and sad and really, really hit the spot.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Angela by: nytimes review
In The Man in the Wooden Hat, Gardam returns to the story of Eddie and Betty Feathers's lives and marriage as English expats in Hong Kong introduced in Old Filth. I expected the story to shine a whole new light on the events of the first novel, creating a more complex whole. Perhaps expectations were a bit high, and there is less new information here than one might hope. This is meant to be Betty's story, but for that it talks very little about her life before meeting Feathers. Her relationship ...more
Jack London
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If I am limited to recommend only one book, I urge you to read these two books. Jane Gardem writes prose that begins gently, invitingly, leading you to the next page and the next, never permitting you to notice that you have been drawn in to her story because all the while you read a part of your mind is asking whether ‘that could have been me….’
Old Filth has almost nothing to do with filth but, rather, is the life revisited of a British attorney who Failed in London, Tried Hong Kong. Sir Edwar
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don’t know how to properly explain about this book. I KNOW I really, really liked it. Why? Well because it spoke to my heart about marital relationships. The problems everyone has, even if you love each other! You don’t have to be a person like either Betty or Eddie to still recognize yourself or your spouse through their relationship. It is about balancing two people’s personalities because there are always differences. The book shows you a long marriage and how it changes with time….and in s ...more
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a companion to "Old Filth," just as "Man in the Wooden Hat" protagonist Betty Feathers is a companion to the central character of the other novel, Edward Feathers.

It starts with Betty's decision to marry Edward, a charming man she hardly knows. She is 28, a virgin, an orphan, with few marital options and no money (well, until she turns 30 and her inheritance is unleashed). Edward, she can tell, is a good, caring man who will provide for her, even if he is deeply private and unlikel
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wonderful companion piece to Old Filth, providing Betty's view of their shared history and some new information on the later days of Edward Feathers' existence after Betty's death. To say much is probably to say too much but the English pre and post-war character as presented here appears to have many issues with belonging, trust, love, family. Betty and Eddie were both children of loss who found each other for better or worse and had their own style of love-filled marriage.

This is a must read f
robin friedman
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Story Of Betty Feathers

Jane Gardam's 2009 novel "The man in the wooden hat" tells the story of Elizabeth Macintosh and her long marriage to Sir Edward Feathers, who is commonly known as "Old Filth". The name is off-putting in approaching the book. The novel is set in the years after WW II in Hong Kong and England, with important scenes in villages and rural areas known as the Donheads, and in London. Betty has had a difficult early life through lack of close family, being interned during the
Huw Rhys
Jun 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really liked the "other half" of this story, Jane Gardam's earlier novel, "Old Filth". But I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what this book was all about.

Jane Gardam writes with intelligence and authority, therefore some people (including her publishers) must have felt that there was some deep literary merit to this diatribe. It's a novel by Jane Gardam, she's won all sorts of awards, therefore by definition this will be a worthy tome...

Well, this wasn't. I could give a dozen different theo
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, comedy, english
This is the second novel in the 'filth' (fail in London, try Hong Kong) trilogy. This volume is another look on the same life stories that were described from the point of view of old 'filth' himself. This time the viewpoint is his wife's. Combined with the sparse but effective writing style, this makes for an interesting and enjoyable reading experience, filled with discoveries that change your understanding of the various characters. Another attraction of the series, for me, is that it's set i ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, love
The second in the "old filth" trilogy. In the man with the wooden hat the story of the wealthy barrister and his charming wife is told from the perspective of the wife. It's funny, poignant and very well written with the words easing by smoothly as one plows through page after page. Somehow though it lacked the bravura punch of the first book. I will of course be reading the last of the trilogy though and there is plenty to savor in this book as well. ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the follow-up to Old Filth. It may not have hit the highs of the first book but this one had plenty to admire. It is mostly told from Betty's POV. She is Edward's wife. Looking forward to Last Friends, the final book in the trilogy. ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This sequel was even better than the first book. The events and story-telling is stunning. I found myself jumping out of my seat in surprise once in a while. In the second part of the book I was about to get disappointed but the ending was so over the top that the book deserves five stars.

Albert Ross is a peculiar fairy-God-mother (like in Cinderella) for Filth in a life that seems like a fair-tale.

(view spoiler)
Robert Teasdale
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Never heard of this author, but it was recommended by Bas Bleu and I bit...God, what a leap of literate faith...and it turned out so well....Ms. Gardam wrote a book - literature, mind you, no murder mysteries, no bodies floating in the river, no graphic sex, literature - about a young man in post WW II who took the bar in England, but never really "made it"...just wasn't cut out for the big trials of London, so became "Old Filth" an acronmyn for Failed In London, Try HongKong......and his story ...more
Aug 01, 2011 added it
Jane Gardam’s Man in the Wooden Hat (2009) is a sequel to Old Filfth (2006), though both novels can be read independently. The Man…is written from the perspective of Betty, married to Sir Edward Feathers, while Old Filth (Filth being an acronym for “Failed in London, Try Hong Kong”) is told from Filth’s point of view.

The Man in the Wooden Hat is one of those novels that are hard to summarize because what “happens” resides mostly in the interaction between characters—a character-driven story, as
Ann G. Daniels
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a companion to Gardam's superb "Old Filth." It's a worthy companion, because it fills in all kinds of holes that you didn't even know were there, painting a very different and fascinating picture of the same characters. It's beautifully written,, but I preferred "Old Filth" for its deep and narrow focus on Edward; this book is about his wife Betty but also about all the other characters in "Filth" and thus seemed to lose a little of "Filth"'s extraordinary intensity. On the other hand, i ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is the complement to Jane Gardam's earlier account of the marriage of Edward and Betty Feathers. "Old Filth" was Edward's story; this book tells things from Betty's perspective. Think of Evan Connell's paired novels "Mr Bridge" and "Mrs Bridge".

"Old Filth" was already a masterpiece. "The Man in the Wooden Hat" is equally good. It can stand on its own merits, but the extra details it reveals about the relationships among the main characters will make you want to re-read "Old Filth".
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As much fun as Old Filth but more from Betty's point of view. This is so deft and clever without being obvious about it. Gardham makes it look easy. It isn't. And just like 'Old Filth', the extra character is that smooth set of guilty pearls. Where the pearls are at any given time prove to be the best navigator. ...more
Bill Khaemba
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A quiet examination of a complex marriage. It had its moments but nothing mind-blowing.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5) This was a fast, entertaining read about the upper-crust British expatriate world as seen through the microcosm of Betty and Eddie's marriage. Well-written, but was felt so snappy as to almost feel like a script more than a novel. ...more
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gobbled this up after reading "Old Filth" and discovering that Gardam had written a companion novel from the point of view of Old Filth's wife, Betty. An ingenious, intriguing idea -- two novels about the same marriage. But it fell short of my expectations (and that may have been part of the problem, since "Old Filth" set them so high). The writing is still great, the story is still engaging, and the characters are still compelling, but somehow I felt that Gardam did not "get" Betty -- capture h ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Man in the Wooden Hat is a companion novel to Gardam’s novel Old Filth and it is told from the perspective of the wife of the protagonist of Old Filth, Elizabeth (Betty) Feathers, nee Macintosh. I expected this book to go more into Betty’s past, but other than brief mentions of her Shanghai childhood, her time in an Japanese internment camp and her Bletchley park days , it really doesn’t; its main focus would appear to be her marriage with Sir Edward. So at first, I was fairly disappointed b ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Man in the Wooden Hat is Jane Gardam's follow-up to her novel Old Filth. Both novels examine the marriage of a up-and-coming barrister and his seemingly dutiful wife, Sir Edward and Elisabeth Feathers. Both have been stunted by their youth as products of the dying modern colonialism. OF focuses on Sir Edward's life while leaving the reader with enough hints to be sure that there is a great deal more to Betty. Thankfully, this volume lets the reader into Betty's world. For the two, marriage i ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Mix feelings. It's Gardam so the writing is impeccable - funny, thoughtful, wonderfully nuanced. And it's Gardam so the characters are dear and infuriating all at the same time. But the short novel is a companion piece to Old Filth and there is something incomplete about it. I am quite sure that the novel would not hold up on its own - it fills in too many gaps in Old Filth.

Curious about Gardam's process here - did she write it afterwards? is it made up of pieces that didn't make it into OF? or
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loc-europe-uk
It's not often that I close a book with an audible sigh. This is Betty's story, but it is also the culmination of the story of Edward Feathers as told in Old Filth. If you haven't read that wonderful book yet, read it first before this one. Like the Alexandria Quartet, like Roshomon, both novels should be taken as a whole to give the entire satisfying picture. Threaded through this narrative are snapshots into a future readers of Old Filth will recognize, but which are completed and given the en ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Her masterpiece!
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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)
  • Last Friends (Old Filth, #3)

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