Excerpt from The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Man in the Wooden Hat

by Jane Gardam

The Man in the Wooden Hat
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 240 pages
    Oct 2009, 240 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The new easy, happy Edward faltered. "No. I don't think they care for that here. I'll be back in ten minutes. I'll order you some tea."


"It's a strange betrothal," Betty told the lily-leaf-shaped tray, the shallow cup, the tiny piece of Battenburg cake and the cress sandwich so small that a breeze from the fountains might blow it away. A trio behind her was playing Mozart. Two Chinese, one Japanese, very expert and scornful. She remembered how people in England used to say that no Oriental would ever play Mozart. Just like at school when they used to say that there would never be Japanese pilots because they were all half-blind behind dark glasses. She was all at once overcome by the idiotic nature of mankind and began to laugh. "God must feel like me," she thought, "Oh, I love Hong Kong. Could we live here? Could Edward?"

Here he came now, washed and shaved in a clean shirt and linen jacket, loping over from the lift, smiling like a boy ("I'm going to be with this person all my life!") and he dropped a little cloth bag into her lap and she took out from it the most magnificent string of pearls.

"Yours," he said. "They're old. Someone gave them to me when I was sixteen in the war. Just in time. She died a few minutes later. She was lying next to me under a lifeboat on deck. We were limping home up the Irish Sea — everybody sick and dying. She was very old. Raj spinster. Whiskery. Brave. Type that's gone. She said, 'One day you can give them to your sweetheart.'"

She thought "He's not cold at all." Then "Oh, OH!! The pearls are wonderful. But they're not what matters."

"There's a condition, Elisabeth."

"About the pearls?"

"Certainly not. They are yours for ever. You are my sweetheart. But this marriage, our marriage."

"Hush," she said, "People are listening. Later."

"No — NOW," he roared out in the way he did, like other cured stammerers; and several heads turned. "This marriage is a big thing. I don't believe in divorce."

"You're talking about divorce before you're proposed."

Mozart behind them sang out, "Aha! Bravo! Goodbye!" And the trio stood up and bowed.

"Elisabeth, you must never leave me. That's the condition. I've been left all my life. From being a baby I've been taken away from people. Raj orphan and so on. Not that I'm unusual there. And it's supposed to have given us all backbone."

"Well I know all that. I was one too. My parents suffered."

"It will all be forgotten soon. What our parents did for an ideology. And there's no doubt we were mostly damaged even though we became endurers."

("May I take your tray, Madam?")

"It did not destroy me but it has made me bloody unsure."

"I will never leave you, Edward."

"I'll never mention any of this again." His words began to stumble. "Been left all my life. Ages couldn't speak. Albert Ross the saviour. So sorry. Came through. Bar a test. Must meet Ross. Bad at sharing feelings."

"Which, dear Eddie, if I may say so, must be why you haven't yet proposed to me."

"I thought I had — "

"No. It would help." (She was happy though.)

"Marry me, Elisabeth. Never leave me. I'll never ask again. But never leave me."

"I'll never leave you, Edward."

A waiter swam by and this time scooped up her tray though she called out "Oh, no!" "Bugger," she thought, "I've had nothing all day but that rice at Amy's." Then "I shouldn't be thinking of cake."


In the lift on the way up to the judge's party, her bare toes inside the sandals crunching the sand of Aberdeen Harbour, she thought, "Well, now I know. It won't be romantic but who wants that? It won't be passion, but better without, probably. And there will be children. And he's remarkable and I'll grow to love him very much. There's nothing about him that's un-lovable."

Excerpted from The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam. Copyright © 2009 by Jane Gardam. Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.