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BookBrowse Reviews The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam

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The Man in the Wooden Hat

by Jane Gardam

The Man in the Wooden Hat
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2009, 240 pages

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A rich account of a long marriage, from one of England's most respected contemporary novelists

Some authors write as though their words have been squeezed out of a tube then worked into shape with a palette knife. Jane Gardam's writing seems spilled as effortlessly onto the page as a watercolor wash, deceptively uncomplicated yet rich in detail, depth and drama. In this companion piece to the compelling and defiantly funny Old Filth, Gardam adds layers of nuance to the lives and relationships of Edward, known as Eddie, and Elizabeth (Betty) Feathers.  While Old Filth is narrated primarily from Eddie's point of view, The Man in the Wooden Hat focuses more on Elizabeth, and cannily asks whether we can ever truly know anyone, even ourselves.

Old Filth (2006), which you don't have to have read to enjoy The Man in the Wooden Hat, takes its name from the derogatory acronymn FILTH - Failed In London Try Hong Kong, a reference to the many young and not so ...

Useful to Know
The fathers of so called 'Raj orphans' lived and worked in The Indian Subcontinent or other parts of South-East Asia, either as administrators or in the military.  Oftentimes, the children were sent back to England for their education usually at boarding school, staying with foster parents or relatives during the holidays, and often not seeing their parents for years at a time. 

Twice in Old Filth, similarities between Eddie's early life and that of Rudyard Kipling are mentioned, and in her acknowledgments Gardam cites her indebtedness to both Kipling’s autobiography, Something of Myself, and his short story Baa Baa Black Sheep. Whereas  Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865 and sent to Britain to live with foster parents when he was six (with his sister who was three), Eddie was born in Malaya (his father worked in ...

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