“Old Filth”


English mystery writers often have cult followings both in Great Britain and the US.  In a recent NYT story, I discovered yet another English novelist with, of course, her own following.  Jane Gardam has written three books in the “Old Filth” series.  Sir Edward Feathers is Old Filth, which stands for Failed in London Try Hong Kong.  He is a child of the time period between the two great wars, whose parents served the Empire in Asia.  The books follow him from childhood to retirement in a Dorset village.

Published last year, “Last Friends” is the third in a trilogy about Old Filth.  Her publisher is urging her to write a fourth but at age 83 she only says, “We’ll see.”  Although Gardam is probably only known by a select few in the US, she has published 16 novels, some for children, and eight short-story collections.  She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for “God on the Rocks” and twice won the Whitbread Book of the Year.

What might bring Jane Gardam to a greater audience is the plan by the BBC to produce a six-part series of “Old Filth.”  Although warned by her friends that she won’t like it, she seems delighted at the prospect.  There is nothing like a television series, especially one produced by the BBC, to generate renewed interest in a novel or its writer.

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