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The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam
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The Man in the Wooden Hat (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Jane Gardam (Author)

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4622022,468 (3.96)171
Member:katiekrug
Title:The Man in the Wooden Hat
Authors:Jane Gardam (Author)
Info:Europa Editions (2009), Edition: First Publication, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Europa Editions
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, contemporary, British, colonialism, Europa Editions

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The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam (2009)

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Excellent story telling. Enjoyed this more than Old Filth. ( )
  sianpr | May 13, 2014 |
The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's, Old Filth's wife, point of view. It depicts a young Betty becoming engaged via letter to Edward Feathers a.k.a Old Filth. However, while accompanying him to a party she lays eyes on Terry Veneering, Filth's long time adversary, and is smitten. That same night they have relations with Betty vowing she won't get married to Filth.

Except that she does but still holds a torch for Veneering as he does her. After suffering a miscarriage, she becomes even more attached to Veneering's son, Harry. She visits him when it looks like one of his legs might be amputated and gives him a significant amount of money for his gambling debts. Harry is a surrogate son for Betty.

Naturally, she is understandably crushed when he is killed in the line of duty. Once again, she resolves to leave Filth once and for all...except she doesn't and channels all of her energy into gardening and decides to bury her "guilty pearls" from Veneering into her garden. Betty finally declares it's too late to leave him and dies. After that it's a quick summary of the events of Old Filth's sort of aging friendship with Veneering until the latter dies. Filth follows him some time after that.

I know The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's point of view but I never really got the sense of Betty unlike Old Filth did with the titular character. She wasn't as sexually repressed as Old Filth was but she was as emotionally repressed with people her own age. That yearning for children of her own helped her establish a relationship with Harry.

With the exception of her miscarriage, my heart never really went out for Betty. In fact, I felt bad for Filth even more because Betty was such a bitch to him at times. He had abandonment issues and she had some issue that made her more fickle than the weather.

I tried really hard to like her and I once did in the first book despite the cheating but now I pretty much can't stand her and said good riddance once she perished. Despite my misgivings, I thought the book was well written by Gardam. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's, Old Filth's wife, point of view. It depicts a young Betty becoming engaged via letter to Edward Feathers a.k.a Old Filth. However, while accompanying him to a party she lays eyes on Terry Veneering, Filth's long time adversary, and is smitten. That same night they have relations with Betty vowing she won't get married to Filth.

Except that she does but still holds a torch for Veneering as he does her. After suffering a miscarriage, she becomes even more attached to Veneering's son, Harry. She visits him when it looks like one of his legs might be amputated and gives him a significant amount of money for his gambling debts. Harry is a surrogate son for Betty.

Naturally, she is understandably crushed when he is killed in the line of duty. Once again, she resolves to leave Filth once and for all...except she doesn't and channels all of her energy into gardening and decides to bury her "guilty pearls" from Veneering into her garden. Betty finally declares it's too late to leave him and dies. After that it's a quick summary of the events of Old Filth's sort of aging friendship with Veneering until the latter dies. Filth follows him some time after that.

I know The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's point of view but I never really got the sense of Betty unlike Old Filth did with the titular character. She wasn't as sexually repressed as Old Filth was but she was as emotionally repressed with people her own age. That yearning for children of her own helped her establish a relationship with Harry.

With the exception of her miscarriage, my heart never really went out for Betty. In fact, I felt bad for Filth even more because Betty was such a bitch to him at times. He had abandonment issues and she had some issue that made her more fickle than the weather.

I tried really hard to like her and I once did in the first book despite the cheating but now I pretty much can't stand her and said good riddance once she perished. Despite my misgivings, I thought the book was well written by Gardam. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's, Old Filth's wife, point of view. It depicts a young Betty becoming engaged via letter to Edward Feathers a.k.a Old Filth. However, while accompanying him to a party she lays eyes on Terry Veneering, Filth's long time adversary, and is smitten. That same night they have relations with Betty vowing she won't get married to Filth.

Except that she does but still holds a torch for Veneering as he does her. After suffering a miscarriage, she becomes even more attached to Veneering's son, Harry. She visits him when it looks like one of his legs might be amputated and gives him a significant amount of money for his gambling debts. Harry is a surrogate son for Betty.

Naturally, she is understandably crushed when he is killed in the line of duty. Once again, she resolves to leave Filth once and for all...except she doesn't and channels all of her energy into gardening and decides to bury her "guilty pearls" from Veneering into her garden. Betty finally declares it's too late to leave him and dies. After that it's a quick summary of the events of Old Filth's sort of aging friendship with Veneering until the latter dies. Filth follows him some time after that.

I know The Man in the Wooden Hat is told from Betty's point of view but I never really got the sense of Betty unlike Old Filth did with the titular character. She wasn't as sexually repressed as Old Filth was but she was as emotionally repressed with people her own age. That yearning for children of her own helped her establish a relationship with Harry.

With the exception of her miscarriage, my heart never really went out for Betty. In fact, I felt bad for Filth even more because Betty was such a bitch to him at times. He had abandonment issues and she had some issue that made her more fickle than the weather.

I tried really hard to like her and I once did in the first book despite the cheating but now I pretty much can't stand her and said good riddance once she perished. Despite my misgivings, I thought the book was well written by Gardam. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Another lovely installment in the Old Filth trilogy, this one told from the point of view of Betty Macintosh Feathers, Old Filth's wife. Like Edward Feathers, Betty was raised in the far eastern parts of the British commonwealth, and she, too, had lost her parents at a young age. She understands his loneliness and the pleas that comes with his proposal: "Don't ever leave me." Yet almost as soon as she accepts, Betty has regrets--particularly when she meets Eddie's arch rival, Terry Veneering. But a promise is a promise . . .

This is the same story we heard in Old Filth, at least from the time that Betty meets Edward Feathers, but here we get her perspective. It's quite intriguing to see how Eddie's interpretation of events differs from the reality that Betty reveals, and to learn of secrets that apparently were never revealed. Like so many women of her day, Betty focused on fulfilling her wifely duties and appeared to lead a rather dull life focused on her tulips, dinner parties, and her husband's career. Gardam lets us see, however, that she has a vibrant inner life, full of secret memories, dreams, and loves. Her relationship with Harry, the Veneerings' young son, is one such secret. Unable to bear children, Betty becomes attached to Harry, a charming and clever boy whom Filth later says is "the only one she ever really loved."

The Man in the Wooden Hat serves as a reminder that even ordinary lives can be extraordinary.

I'm looking forward to the last book in the Old Filth series and will be seeking out more novels by Jane Gardam, whose writing is beautiful, original, amusing, and moving. ( )
  Cariola | Mar 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
On its own, “The Man in the Wooden Hat” is funny and affecting, but read alongside “Old Filth,” it’s remarkable. Gardam has attempted to turn a story inside out without damaging the original narrative’s integrity — moving from black to white without getting stuck with gray. Little here is as it seemed in “Old Filth,” and both books are the richer for it.
 
"While "Old Filth" is principally about the man, his dark boyhood at the mercy of a distant, unfeeling father, with the wife a rather shadowy character in the background, "The Man in the Wooden Hat" fills in her side of the story, in the process revealing itself to be an astute, subtle depiction of marriage, with all its shared experiences and separate secrets."
 
What Gardam is particularly good at – and what made Old Filth so compelling – is creating for her characters façades of complete conventionality, which are then chipped away to reveal strange internal workings.
 
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"Old, forgotten far-off things
and battles long ago."
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for David
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Tells the story of the fifty-year marriage of barrister Filth and his wife Betty, which is filled with secrets and hidden desires.

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