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Old Filth

by Jane Gardam

A beautifully written, gentle and compassionate story about Filth (Failed in London Try Hong Kong), a once successful lawyer in the Far East now retired to Dorset. The sudden death of his wife sends him searching for answers ... A fascinating insight into the life of a Raj orphan sent to be educated in Britain and his struggle to fit in and survive.

Extract

All his life he kept a regard for Chinese values: the courtesy, the sudden thrust, the holiness of hospitality, the pleasure in money, the decorum, the importance of food, the discretion, the cleverness. He had married a Scotswoman but she had been born in Peking. She was dumpy and tweedy with broad Lanakshire shoulders and square hands, but she spoke Mandarin perfectly and was much more at home with Chinese ways and idiom than she ever felt on her very rare visits to Scotland. Her passion for jewellery was Chinese and her strong Scottish fingers rattled the trays of jade in the street markets of Kowloon, stirring the stones like pebbles on a beach. 'When you do that,' Old Filth would say - when they were young and he was still aware of her all the time - 'your eyes are almond-shaped.'

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