The Man In the Wooden Hat

The Man in the Wooden Hat - Jane Gardam

I don’t know how to properly explain about this book. I KNOW I really, really liked it. Why? Well because it spoke to my heart about marital relationships. The problems everyone has, even if you love each other! You don’t have to be a person like either Betty or Eddie to still recognize yourself or your spouse through their relationship. It is about balancing two people’s personalities because there are always differences. The book shows you a long marriage and how it changes with time….and in some ways things never changes! Even if you would never make the same choices that either Betty or Eddie make, you will relate to their choices. Were you a little worried when you decided to get married if you had made the right choice? Have you never been attracted to anyone else since then? After years and years together do there still remain secrets? And are they secrets? Does the other one know? Don’t all of us get stuck in our ways? Isn’t there always one who needs to communicate more than the other? How do other interests (work, hobbies) play in? When one person does something, this leads the other to do something and down the line it goes.

So often, one sentence in the book sums up years and years of experiences. There are so many marvelous sentences, but I believe each one of us will pick different lines that are important to just them. These are a few I liked:

“My work was too important to me.”
“Aren’t you over-doing it?”
“The smiles in his eyes were as they had always been.”
“Just as she had re-arranged herself into a copy of her dead mother…”
“When would I have been told?”

This book is all about relationships. Even if we love our husband or wife we never will be exactly the same. We never get everything we want. We all have to make compromises. We all are so sure that our way of looking at “what happened “ is obvious, but then we can come to see that there is another totally different way of seeing these same events. In real life we are so obstinately fighting for our own beliefs that we rarely even want to see the whole picture. In Old Filth, the previous book in the series, we got Eddie’s view, here we get Betty’s and here we learn that there was so much more to the story than what we first understood. Along the way we have a chance to observe out own lives. Two people’s views do overlap, but they are never identical. It is not a matter of deciding whose view is correct, but simply seeing the other point of view. As you look at this couple’s life you will think about your own life, and I bet you will chuckle along the way.

Graeme Malcolm’s narration was fine throughout the entire audiobook.

I have heard that the author has written a third book. If this is true, I will definitely be reading it soon! Will it be more about Albert Ross or about Terry or maybe even Lizzie?

Yay, Last Friends by Jane Gardam will come out on Kindle on April 2nd. It is about Terry! Can it be as good? I didn't really like Terry Veneering; look at his last name.... Thank you Diane for telling me!


Through Chapter 22: I was shocked by the first chapters. I didn't even tell you about those. Then I was very happy, but now I am stricken with grief over what is happening. Seriously, why do I get so upset about books? Why do I care so about these fictitious characters? I do have a low threshold for medical calamities, but.... Is this exceptional writing or is it just me?!


Through Chapter 16: Everybody says Old Filth should be read before this book, The Man in the Wooden Hat, although both work as stand-alones. I have read Old Filth, although quite a while ago, I think I remember enough. What hits me now is the humor in Jane Gardam's lines! I don't recall such humor, and I am loving it. I think this is wonderful, hearing Betty's side of their marriage! THIS is much better than Eddie's! They are newlywed in bombed-out London. It is the 50s and Eddie, he is always gone, in "Chambers"! Eddie is a Barrister workaholic, and my husband is a workaholic and has always been, so this book speaks to me! Do you remember how you felt as a newlywed? Do you remember how happy you were? Do you remember having no money and not caring at all, not in the least?! Betty has just cooked "coq-au-vin" and she is not sure if she should have left the feet in...... I can't cook either, by the way! Eddie remarks: "Do you know what your are? You're happy!" And she thinks: "She knew she looked beautiful. Happiness makes you look beautiful." Doesn't it?! Gardam has a delightful way of describing Eddie's old bachelor flat, which when they return from their honeymoon in the Far East, is filthy. It even has a rat! They escape to a hotel for one night, and the next morning, with dawn and sparkling light and full of energy, it all looks so different. Oh to be young and newly married! I love this. It is even better than "Old Filth"....Or have I forgotten how good that was?

The audiobook narration by Graeme Malcolm is fast, but still good. I haven't had to re-listen to sections, not yet at least.