This book was first published in 2004, When Gardam (born 1928) was 86 years old. Whereas in “The Lady of the Tambourine” her heroine has been left by her husband, is childless and lonely, here the hero is the 80-year-old widower Sir Edward Feathers, called Old Filth. He worked as a lawyer in the Far East and has finally come back to Britain. He also is childless, and although Gardam takes great pain in her introduction to point out that this man has no resemblance with her former husband, apart from some minor details, I do not believe her at all.
She makes her protagonist brood in his solitary life about his past in kind of flash backs, so she can talk about British colonial glories and about Edward´s troubled childhood in Britain as an orphan. She switches back and forth between memories of the past, things that went wrong or are deeply regretted. Edward´s present is so uneventful, that in the end he decides to go back east and dies on the trip.
Maybe there is a time for old people to stop writing and stick to their memories, that are only interesting for themselves.