"Old Filth" by Jane Gardam has received a lot of praise since its publication in 2004, and rightly so. If you have not read it, I can highly recommend it.
Do not be put off by the title (like I was, at least a little). It really makes for a reading experience you want to continue when the book ends. Good job then that there are two more involving the same characters! My sister has read them all and tells me all three tell the story from the perspective of a different character. This sounds like an unusual but interesting concept, and I am definitely going to read the other two.
Old Filth is the nickname of Sir Edwar Feathers, a former judge and QC who rose to international fame practicing law in the Far East. The nickname Filth stands for "Failed in London, Tried Hong Kong" and has nothing to do with any filthy habits of his (there aren't any).
The story of his life runs parallel to the decline of the British Empire from its glory days through WWII to the present day.
As you know from my blog, the topic of self-perception versus how others pereceive us is one I find utterly fascinating. And in this book, it crops up all the time. People who used to know him in his active days say to each other that he still looks great in his old age because "he's never had really anything happening to him". Little do they know of how his childhood and youth was spent, of the small and big dramas that took place during those decisive years.
I won't tell you much more about the story because I want you to read it for yourselves, if you have the time and inclination. It is very well written and edited (makes a refreshing change from some of the free ebooks I have been reading lately!), and I am looking forward to reading the other two books.
This was my first read by Jane Gardam. Wikipedia tells me that she will be 90 years old next year, was born in Yorkshire and has three children. She wrote children's books (some of which I'd really like to read), short stories and novels, plus one non-fiction book. Definitely an author very worthy of anyone's time and attention.