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Last Friends (Old Filth Trilogy) Paperback – April 2, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Old Filth Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Last Friends brings to a close Jane Gardam’s lauded series that includes Old Filth (2006) and The Man in the Wooden Hat (2011). Like its predecessors, this final installment examines the complex world of British class, empire, and the social circles that bring them together. Gardam tells of the rise and fall of Terry Veneering, the son of a mysterious Russian acrobat and a rough-and-tumble local girl living in the English midlands. As a child, Veneering is exposed to the ugly side of the British upper class and narrowly escapes death during the Blitz in WWII. Disgusted by the attitudes of the English gentry, and with his hometown destroyed in the war, Veneering sets off to remake himself in the Far East, only to return to England under suspicion. Gardam’s previous novels have brought her acclaim in England, and with the right mix of publicity and word-of-mouth support, American readers, too, will respond to her witty style, insatiable readability, and cast of strange and amazing characters. --Heather Paulson

Review

"Gardam is the best British writer you've never heard of"
--Maureen Corrigan, NPR

"Jane Gardam is a wonderful writer. Her understanding of character and use of language are both remarkable"
--The Times

"Old Filth belongs in the Dickensian pantheon of memorable characters."
--New York Times Sunday Book Review
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Product Details

  • Series: Old Filth Trilogy
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions; 1 edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609450930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609450939
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
(4.5 stars) The last novel of an unforgettable trilogy, LAST FRIENDS follows, first, OLD FILTH, the story of Sir Edward Feathers, who Failed in London, Tried Hongkong; hence his nickname. A Raj orphan, Filth grew up in Malaya, went to school in England, became a judge, and then worked for the Empire as a member of the foreign service. The second novel, THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT, is the story of Filth's marriage to Betty, told from her point of view. Betty, who never really loved Filth, is reputed to have had an affair with Sir Terence Veneering, Filth's life-long rival in every aspect of life. Both of these novels are filled with wit, irony, and insights into people and relationships, especially those who serve the Empire overseas, and author Jane Gardam's ability to create scenes and unforgettable, often wry dialogue is almost unparalleled.

LAST FRIENDS, the third novel, is ostensibly the story of Sir Terence Veneering, a man of mysterious origins, Filth's rival and possibly Betty's lover. The novel opens as the villagers of St. Ague in Dorset, to which all three retired years ago, are preparing to travel to London for Old Filth's funeral, Betty and Veneering having passed on some time ago. The irrepressible Old Dulcie Williams, the village elder and widow of "Pastry Willy" Williams, a judge who was also in the foreign service, becomes the "voice" of the novel. Clearly dotty, and never shy, Dulcie provides the backstories of these characters, though she "sees" events which may or may not be real, has conversations with people who are long dead, and ignores anything (like the increasingly urgent communications from the bank) that might possibly complicate her life. She is joined in St.
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After reading the first two novels in this trilogy, I was hugely disappointed with Last Friends. Although this work has received positive reviews in some reputable publications, I could not find anything compelling in this novel. I struggled to get through it, even although it tied characters together and provided backstories to the overall trilogy. To me, the whole thing was full of cliched characters and "jolly old England" landscapes without adding anything new or fresh. Jane Gardam has considerable talent but I thought this work was "lazy". An okay read but definitely not first class.

A big shout out, however, to Europa Editions who continue to publish qaulity fiction. As a serious reader I try to purchase everything they publish and am seldom disappointed with their choices.
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Jane Gardam is unreservedly my favorite author. Her sense of elegant style, evocative atmosphere and droll sense of humor puts her in a singular category. Once again the characters of Privilege Hill come to life with all their foibles and quirks and within a few pages you are immersed in their way of life and how it has changed, yet somehow maintained through the passage of time. This trilogy is so rich, it needs to be savored. I encourage you to read and reread the trilogy in entirety for all the nuances that the author has woven throughout to create this grand story. Kudos Ms. Gardam. I hope we will have an opportunity to hear more from Old Filth, Dulce, Veneering et al in the future.
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At one point in Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith's character says something like, "Why, I have loads of friends I can't stand." So apparently do the "Last Friends." And after anointing Old Filth and Man with the Wooden Hat among my favorite reads, I feel quite the same. What happened? Gardam, so masterful in the earlier works of the "trilogy" totally lost me on this one. The sympathies I felt for the Filth, Veneering, Betty et alia dissipated in this final installment. The writing was almost unintelligible at times, and the actions -- as well as their consequences -- unconvincing. While the two earlier novels focused on the perspective of single person, Last Friends can't seem to decide who it is about. Is it Dulcie? Fiscal-Smith? Veneering? I never knew. When all is said and done, Last Friends left me wishing that I hadn't followed these wonderful "friends" into such decline.
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Fills in the back story on the characters introduced in Old Filth. Didn't need the background. The trilogy went downhill form first to second to last. I will say that this one had a sweet ending.
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Not nearly as engaging as the prior works in this trilogy, and far too dependent, in terms of character development, on one's having read at least one of the first two.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It is eight years since I read the first volume of this trilogy (Old Filth) and five since I read the second (The Man in the Wooden Hat) - see my Amazon reviews - and I am afraid my memory of them, even with these reviews, is not too good. This third volume can, like the others, be read independently, though clearly a knowledge of those two others would greatly enrich the reading of reading this one.

Sir Edward Feathers, the central figure of the first volume and his wife Betty, the central figure of the second, have both died. So had Sir Terence Veneering, with whom Betty is believed to have had an affaire and who becomes the central figure in this volume, though it takes some time to realize it: half-way through the book we realize that he has changed his name, and it is easy to miss the time-shift between two of the chapters. They are all remembered by Sir Frederick Fiscal-Smith, who knows Veneering’ surprising past - how he rose to be a barrister from the humblest of circumstances. He, too, appears under a different name in some chapters, and again it is more than half-way through the book that we can make a connection. Before we can make them, the earlier incidents in the novel seem somewhat inconsequential, but then of course things begin to fall into place, though I have to say that I didn’t find the story all that interesting, and the ending ragged. I had given five stars to the other two volumes, which were far better than this one.
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