And so begins the delightful 1978 novel by Jane Gardam, with an exquisitely described trip on a local train that “went slowly, see-sawing from side to side in the dusty coach with blinds with buttoned ends and a stiff leather strap arched like a tongue on the carriage door,” a pitch-perfect evocation of Britain between the Wars. What begins for Margaret Marsh is nothing less than the gradual opening of her eyes to the complexity of the adult world.
Several years ago, I read my first Jane Gardam novel, FIGHT OF THE MAIDENS, and Iâ€™ve been a fan ever since. The last Gardam novel I read was OLD FILTH, and so I was delighted to read that Europa Editions recently published THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HATt. While THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT isnâ€™t a sequel to OLD FILTH, it is a companion novel. OLD FILTH, which really should be read first, begins with the death of Betty, the wife of retired judge Sir Edward Feathers. OLD FILTH, inspired by Gardamâ€™s exposure to the early life of Rudyard Kipling, focuses on Edward, while this novel explores the Feathersâ€™ life together through Bettyâ€™s eyes.