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The People on Privilege Hill by Jane Gardam

The People on Privilege Hill (2007)

by Jane Gardam

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For fans of Jane Gardam’s “Old Filth” novels, the title story in this collection is everything you might hope it could be. Indeed, this short story might just as easily have been a chapter in one of the novels. Here you will find Sir Edward Feathers (‘Old Filth’ himself), his nemesis Veneering, the ever tight-fisted Fiscal-Smith, and the well-meaning but simple Dulcie. They are all well into their anecdotage, gathering at Dulcie’s with numerous others to send off a young priest of Dulcie’s acquaintance, Father Ambrose, on his way to St Umbrage’s on the isle of Skelt. The badinage is perfectly pitched, the possibilities for farce are rife, and Gardam carries it off without a hitch. Thoroughly delightful.

The downfall, if there is one, is that the title story rather sets all of the others collected here in the shade. Indeed, you might be forgiven for wondering whether they are even written by the same author. Most lack the verve of that first story. Almost all suffer from excessively thin characters. And some are sadly dependent on what in an earlier era might have been considered to be a twist ending. Not all suffer equally. The final story, “The Last Reunion,” is very rich and I rather enjoyed, “The Hair of the Dog.” And of course none of the others are so very disappointing, though they all tend towards a curiously English conception of the short story and are limited thereby. So, gently recommended for those few gems and especially the “Old Filth” title story. Otherwise not. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Sep 11, 2015 |
Worth the price of the book just to revisit Filth and Veneering in the first story. I can't get enough of those characters's from Gardam's novels "Old Filth" and "The Man in the Wooden Hat." I enjoyed the other short stories as well, but was not quite as taken with the rest as I was with the first. ( )
  tippycanoegal | Apr 1, 2013 |
  living2read | Mar 15, 2010 |
Immediately on finishing Gardam’s Old Filth, I learned that her story collection The People on Privilege Hill contained a story with Old Filth himself, Edward Feathers. I was thrilled to “meet” him again, and by turns charmed, saddened and teased by the other stories in this collection. Gardam is an impressive writer, conveying much with spare prose. ( )
  Girl_Detective | Dec 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0701177993, Hardcover)

A new collection of stories from Jane Gardam, a writer at the height of her powers — well-known for her caustic wit, free-wheeling imagination, love of humanity and wicked powers of observation, with a hint of the bizarre.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

These stories mix a sardonic wit with a delicate tenderness and a touch of the surreal. They range from a Victorian mansion, converted into a home for unmarried mothers, to a wartime hospital which is the scene for a job interview in the middle of the Blitz; from ghost stories to a one-night stand - and its ironic punishment - to the tangle of emotions felt by a mother for her daughter.… (more)

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