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The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam

The Man in the Wooden Hat (2009)

by Jane Gardam

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Old Filth (Betty)

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English (37)  German (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The writing is once again gorgeous, and for me worth the time spent, but I didn't find Betty and her trials any more fundamentally engaging than I found Filth.
What was actually a premarital affair really is made a big deal of and the book concentrates on a less than 3 year stretch of a 30 year marriage. And the end, except that Albert Russ survived Filth, is pretty much a repeat of [Old Filth]. Early sexual adventurism and it's later revelation is really thin material. ( )
  quondame | Jan 25, 2019 |
The storyline of Old Filth doesn't seem to offer much scope for sequels - it's pretty much a cradle-to-grave novel, with no obvious sign of a younger generation following - but, like Laurence Durrell in The Alexandria Quartet, or like Ford Maddox Ford in The good soldier, Gardam uses the trick of going back over essentially the same material from the viewpoint of a different central character, and showing us how it can all be read with quite a different slant. I think she must have had FMF in the back of her mind - Sir Edward Feathers sometimes seems to have more than a hint of Ashburnham (or even Tietjens) about him.

The man in the wooden hat puts Feathers's wife, Betty, in the spotlight, and shows us something about the history of the love affair hinted at in the first book, but what it's really interested in is the way two people who are married for fifty years and may be presumed to know each other better than anyone else does, can still have important pieces of their lives that they aren't prepared to share - whether or not their "secrets" are really secret. And what the presence of those "secrets" in their lives means to them.

I felt that this was perhaps even a better, more complicated novel than Old Filth, although it's difficult to assess, because it does also rest quite heavily on the heavy work of exposition and scene-setting that's already been done in the first volume. Certainly, Gardam seems to be more comfortable with Betty as a character, and is more prepared to take risks and let herself be witty. ( )
  thorold | Oct 19, 2018 |
This is the second book in the Old Filth trilogy. The first book, about Edward's and Elisabeth's life together, is told from Edward's point of view. This book is told from Elisabeth's. If you have read Old Filth (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong), you know the basic story although, not surprisingly, Elisabeth sees things differently than her husband. She has interests that Edward didn't speak of and lives apart from Edward mostly happily during the later part of their marriage. We learn that both have secrets. ( )
  clue | Sep 30, 2018 |
Het eerste deel van deze serie vond ik wat raadselachtig, ik begreep niet alles. In dit tweede deel vallen de puzzelstukjes meer op hun plaats. Het verhaal wordt verteld vanuit Betty, de vrouw van Old Filth. Het overspel met Veneering, op de dag dat ze heeft toegestemd in een huwelijk met Edward, is belangrijker dan in het eerste deel. Edward blijkt zelf ook, tegelijkertijd, ontrouw te zijn geweest.
Het knappe aan dit tweede deel is dat sommige stukjes hetzelfde zijn als in het eerste deel, maar je krijgt een heel andere kijk op het verhaal nu het vanuit Betty wordt verteld. Heel mooi geschreven! ( )
  elsmvst | Apr 2, 2018 |
This author has a wonderful way of making her characters and their lives feel totally real. I love her writing. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Feb 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (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.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Gardamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wallis, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Old, forgotten far-off things
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There is a glorious part of England known as the Donheads.
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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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