Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Old Filth : Jane Gardam

Old Filth
by Jane Gardam

Wasn't really a fan of this. It's a fictional life story of a judge which contrasts with the professional, dry image with which those who know him less well associate him.

The story is told non-linearly, starting with him as an old man and jumping rather disjointedly back and forth to earlier times in his life.

I thought some of the writing was rather clumsy. An excerpt from the first page:
The Queen's Remembrancer: I suppose we all know who that was?
Junior judge: I've no idea.
Senior judge: It seemed to be a famous face.
The Common Sergeant: It was Old Filth.
JJ: What? But he must have died years ago. Contemporary of F. E. Smith.
CS: No It was Old Filth. Great advocate, judge and-bit of a wit. Said to have invented FILTH-Failed In London Try Hong Kong. He tried Hong Kong. Modest, nice chap.
I will say that some of the random anecdotes that are supposed to elucidate Filth's life-story and personality are moderately interesting, mainly because the whole historical British angle was new to me.

But overall, there just wasn't much direction to the book. The end-reveal came too late to have much of an impact. And if this was a character study, there wasn't much depth on the characters either. I didn't quite understand Old Filth very much, nor have much interest in him at the very end.