Old Filth (Europa Editions 2006)
The Man in the Wooden Hat (Europa Editions, 2009)
Last Friends (Europa Editions, 2013)
What delightful reads – well written, humorous and melancholy at the same time. The trilogy deals with the lives of “raj orphans”, children of British colonials sent back to England for education, and to get them out of the parent’s hair. Once in England, most attend boarding schools, but in the case of Edward Feathers, the main character, he was too young, so with distant cousins was sent to live with a stingy Welch couple who made life hell for all.
Tragedies are not dwelt on throughout the trilogy – stiff upper lip and all. These books respectfully tell how raj children made their adolescent lives in England, their careers back in the colonies and their retirements in England. Abandonment is a big theme. Edward Feathers’s nickname, Old Filth” is an acronym for “Failed in London, try Hong Kong”. Once educated, the raj children were more successful returning to the colonies than in England, where they lacked social continuity.
Highly recommended for the tight, yet easy writing and the "new-to-me" information about yet another aspect of British colonial life. Good stories, too.