Last Friends by Jane Gardam - review by Patrick Skene Catling

Patrick Skene Catling

Closing Time at the Bar

Last Friends


Little, Brown 213pp £16.99

As the 84-year-old widow of a QC, and with an OBE for services to literature, Jane Gardam is an expert on achievement, old age, bereavement, and rivalry in the legal profession, and she empathises vividly with her fictional characters in comparable circumstances. A consummate storyteller, she writes of life with wonderful gusto and wry humour, and of death with a poignance entirely uncloyed by mawkishness.

Last Friends, her latest novel, brings into perfect equilibrium the trilogy that began so well with Old Filth – Filth is the protagonist’s nickname, an acronym for ‘Failed in London, Try Hong Kong’ – and continued equally exotically with The Man in the Wooden Hat. The whole opus ranges from

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