Booklist (starred review): "Anglophile readers wondering who their next favorite British writer will be need to look no further than Gardam."
Date: May 30 2006
Anglophile readers wondering who their next favorite British writer will be need to look no further than Gardam, who, despite having won numerous literary awards and been short-listed for the Booker Prize, is not nearly as well known in the U.S. as she deserves. The tiles of this, her twelfth novel, seems to promise that satiric bite British authors do so well, but although there’s plenty of sharp humor here, the book has many other moods. Sir Edward Feathers—called Filth (even by his wife, Betty) for “Failed in London Try Hong Kong”— is now retired and living in Dorset after a distinguished career as a barrister in the Far East. Betty’s sudden death sends him on both a real and imagined journey to rediscover his past as a “Raj orphan” born in Malaya but shipped back home early and brought to manhood at the hands of a variety of surrogate parents and guides, some good, some bad. For everything else Gardam’s richly layered story and acute observation provide, this is finally a portrait of old age, offered with unflinching realism but also deep compassion.
by Mary Ellen Quinn