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Publisher's Summary

Long ago, Old Filth was a Raj orphan - one of the many young children sent 'home' from the East to be fostered and educated in England.

Jane Gardam's novel tells his story, from his birth in what was then Malaya to the extremities of his old age. In so doing, she not only encapsulates a whole period from the glory days of British Empire, through the Second World War, to the present and beyond, but also illuminates the complexities of the character known variously as Eddie, the Judge, Fevvers, Filth, Master of the Inner Temple, Teddy and Sir Edward Feathers.

©2004 Jane Gardam (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A magnificent, deeply moving and compassionate portrait of an era and a sentimental education. Please read it." ( Daily Mail)
"Beautiful, vivid and defiantly funny." ( The Times)

What listeners say about Old Filth

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A revelation

I had never heard of this book when I was inspired to chose it by an article in the Guardian. I knew little of Jane Gardam. Now I wonder, how can this be? I was transfixed by the characters and the story of a life that is assumed to be uneventful and is anything but. The writing is marvellous, sometimes electrifying, often funny. I loved the structure - gradually opening up the life and its many stories, like a bud opens into a flower. Bill Wallace’s reading is beyond faultless - sensitive, lucid, intelligent. I now want to read the others in this series.

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Give it time to warm up!

If you could sum up Old Filth in three words, what would they be?

Deep, considered, authentic

What was one of the most memorable moments of Old Filth?

The whole book took me to be in a different place, a place of luxurious velvet drapes, deep pile carpets and shining antique furniture

What does Bill Wallace bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Bill is a genius. He doesn't just read this book, he embodies it and becomes the characters. He brought just as much talent and enjoyment to the book as the author did in writing it. In fact, I would probably not have read the book, it is in fact more enjoyable to listen to because of Bill's portrayals of the characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was my constant companion for a week and then so was the next book

Any additional comments?

Gives a deep insiders view into the human psyche, and how the experiences we grow up with shape and form us in adult life. I did feel so terrible for Filth, Teddy, but he did not ever feel sorry for himself. I believe this book has made me think about life in without even realising it. Genius writing. So true, so authentic, more like a biography, I don't know how Jane Gardam got inside her characters so well.

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  • mollyeyre
  • 10-02-2018

Lovely Tale of an Interesting Life

I did enjoy this story, it was really well crafted to keep us guessing about various oarts of Old Filth's life, I loved the character of Filth, and it was a joy to follow him through his often sad life. I don't usually read this type of book which was, I suppose, like a biography, but I did find it held my attention and I did not want to put the book down.

I do like the way that Jane Gardam writes - the story isn't forced upon you - it gently unfolds.

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  • Elizabeth
  • 04-04-2017

Superb in every way

A wonderful life told in glorious descriptive prose that painted characters and scenes with extraordinary clarity, and read absolutely superbly. I am not one for superlatives, but this was truly a great listen. I can't recommend Old Filth highly enough.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Klosterneuburg Kid
  • 23-05-2017

Interesting read

Very interesting, especially if you like Passage to India. Supplements one's understanding of the Raj well. The boy's childhood makes one's heart ache.

2 people found this helpful

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  • William
  • 04-05-2017

Memory and desire

Thoroughly enjoyed this novel which reminds me of Moving and a God in Ruins. I am a big fan of the narrator. I am sad that it has ended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tessi
  • 22-11-2016

My favourite audio book

What made the experience of listening to Old Filth the most enjoyable?

After at least five years, this is still my favourite audio book, along with A Thousand Splendid Suns.

A lovely story and very well read.

What did you like best about this story?

Everything

Have you listened to any of Bill Wallace’s other performances? How does this one compare?

His best

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's like a warm hug from an old friend now

Any additional comments?

Try it - you really won't be disappointed

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  • Janet
  • 24-01-2018

Very enjoyable reminiscences and life story

Bill Wallace does an excellent job of portraying Old Filth and revealing his past life. A story gently told despite the terrible events of Feathers' young life. Events unravel in a subtle, gradual way and you can feel desperately sorry for the young boy while at the same time understanding Old Filth's lack of emotion in the living of his later life, and the telling of it. I felt quite close to Teddy in the end.

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  • Clare
  • 22-07-2017

Purpose??

This book looks back at the life of an old barrister and judge as he comes to the end of his life, so prepare for jumping around in time and location, and only having answers to some questions posed at the beginning resolved at the end.

The narrator was great. I easily listened to this through a number of car journeys, but would probably have been frustrated if I'd read this as a book, ie dedicating time and effort especially for this. The end result feels like, life is pretty pointless. There seems to be no reason put forward by the author for life, or a moral of sorts, so felt a bit empty by the end.

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  • Dr. Anita Houghton
  • 20-11-2020

A wonderful book, beautifully read

This is a touching, interesting and often funny book, about a generation of Raj orphans, children who were sent to Britain by their parents and brought up by strangers. It is read with perfect nuance, tenderness and humour by bill Wallace.

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  • Eileen
  • 01-11-2020

Life recounted

Loved it. A charming story. I do love a good story. The narration was believable serving well the authors intention.

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  • A. Smith
  • 27-10-2020

beautiful

Wallace is the perfect teller of this story. Poignant, sharp and pitch perfect, the characters are beautifully drawn and the life of Old Filth conjured, layer upon layer, like le Carré, wise and restrained. Having trudged through When we were (utterly unbelievable amdram)Orphans without understanding what all the fuss was about, this novel is on a different level entirely.

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