Old Filth by Jane Gardam - review by Francis King

Francis King

Judge And Be Judged

Old Filth


Chatto & Windus 260pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

MERELY FROM ITS title, some readers may at first assume, as I did, that this must be a novel about some ancient vagrant. In fact, shuttling back and forth in time, it recounts the life story of the sort of legal grandee described as 'a legend in his lifetime'. 'Filth', it turns out, is an acronym used to describe a certain kind of international lawyer - Failed In London Try Hong Kong.


Filth's (or Edward's) life begins in Malaya in 1923, where his father, still suffering from shell shock sustained in the First World War, is a district commissioner. Two weeks after Filth's birth, his mother dies of puerperal fever. Distracted by grief and consumed by hatred for this murderous interloper, Filth's

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