Read The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories by Jane Gardam Online


A new collection of stories from a writer at the height of her powers and celebrated stylist admired for her caustic humor, freewheeling imagination, love of humanity and wicked powers of observation. This is a delightful grouping of stories, witty and wise, that includes the return of Sir Edward Feathers, Old Filtha himself....

Title : The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781933372563
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 196 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories Reviews

  • David
    2019-04-26 08:17

    I first discovered Jane Gardam a few years ago when I read her subtle, completely brilliant, account of the life of English barrister Eddie Feathers, aka "Old Filth" ('failed in London, try Hong Kong'). Ms Gardam upped the ante late last year by publishing a companion volume, "The Man in the Wooden Hat", which retold, and deepened, the story of the Feathers marriage from the point of view of his wife Betty.Old Filth and his nemesis Veneering make a cameo appearance in the first story in this awesome collection by Gardam. It's impossible for me to pinpoint exactly where her brilliance lies. I'll just say that no collection of stories has moved me as much in the past five years and leave it at that. The stories are all over the map - from a woman who falls in love with a gorilla to the unexpectedly moving account of a college reunion - each has a wit and poignancy that few authors can match.You have to read these stories - they will surprise and delight you. A truly spectacular accomplishment from an author you may not have come across. It's for books like this one that I created my "unexpectedly terrific" shelf.

  • Eleanor
    2019-04-29 09:14

    I love Jane Gardam's writing - it is spare, elegant and full of insight into the quirks of human nature. This is a book of short stories and what a wonderful collection they are. The first, which gives the book its title, is about Edward Feathers (Old Filth) and his acquaintances. There are ghost stories, compassionate stories of old and lonely people, and one set in London in the middle of the Blitz. My runaway favourite is about a woman who is tempted into a one night stand up in the Lake District while her husband is absent from home, but has to take the dog (a Black Labrador) with her because there isn't anyone she can ask to mind it. There is a wonderful absurdity to this. We have a Black Lab and I suspect that Jane Gardam has one too - the dog's behaviour is spot on and the results are hilarious.Highly recommended.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-12 13:59

    Description: Jane Gardam's delightful short stories range from the Lake District to Dorset; from Wimbledon, where an old Victorian mansion has been converted into a home for unmarried mothers, to wartime London, where a hospital is the scene of a job interview in the middle of the Blitz. In 'Pangbourne' (not, in this instance, the place, but the name of an ape), a lonely woman allows herself tenderly to fall in love with a gorilla; 'Snap' is about a loveless one-night stand - and its ironic punishment. Two of the stories are ghost stories; and fans of Gardam's most recent novel, the bestselling Old Filth, will be overjoyed to encounter Filth himself and his ancient enemy and sparring partner, Veneering, among the umbrellas at a luncheon party on a soaking wet day.The People on Privilege HillPangbourneBabetteThe Latter Days of Mr JonesThe Flight PathThe Milly MingThe Hair of the DogDangersWaiting for a StrangerLearning to FlyThe Virgins of BrugesThe FledglingSnapThe Last ReunionThe author of the Old Filth trilogy explains why, despite her award-winning career as a novelist, it’s short stories she loves best4* Old Filth5* The Man in the Wooden HatWL Last FriendsWL Crusoe's Daughters3* BilgewaterTR The People on Privilege Hill4* The Stories

  • William Koon
    2019-04-22 12:14

    I pause to give thanks to those who have guided me along the way. One was ex-student Charlie who right after he was expelled brought by a copy of “Cat’s Cradle,” and said, “I think you will enjoy Vonnegut. I did –and do. Another was Nicole who introduced me to Jane Gardam. Along the way I got to know one of the more remarkable characters (and his environs) in contemporary fiction, Gardam’s “Old Filth.” Now, here is a wonderful selection of her stories, the first of which finds us back with “Old Filth” as he approaches ninety in a rain storm. Joyous. She takes us other places, too. Here’s a telling story about charity, and unwed mothers, and how we have all changed. Another is an enchanting piece about a woman who is in love with an ape, and whose love –seemingly-- is shared. I particularly am struck by how responsive Gardam is to the aged in society.Throughout the collection there is not a false note. Not one word used that is not needed. No idea that needs to be added. My only wish is that this slim volume had been a fatter serving of Gardam’s considered and true prose which hides beneath it worlds of delight and art.

  • Deanna
    2019-05-05 10:01

    3.5 stars. Didn’t realize this was a book of short stories, very loosely connected to the Old Filth series. Gardam is a stellar storyteller, though I prefer her novels. I found the short stories ranging from delightful to tedious, with most in the middle of the range. I believe most of my disappointment was that I wasn’t in much of a short story frame of mind, and that I had recently read her series of Old Filth novels and was in the novel-length rhythm of her writing. I found it harder to stay tuned with her short fiction, and not because of poor writing.

  • Lady Drinkwell
    2019-05-18 13:09

    I loved everything single one of these magical, moving or twist in the tale stories. Just a delight!

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-01 10:17

    These are quite different from her trilogy on Edward Feathers, Old Filth and his bunch. IMHO, 4 stars is a generous rating for this short story group. But do take that with a grain of salt because I am not a fan of short stories- yet I love novellas. Despite that, even in such tiny crisp exercises, the characterizations are excellent.Regardless, Jane Gardam tackles some social issues here in context of the 1960's and 1970's that are done in present tense narrative BUT, IMHO, would be highly "suspect" to the PC police of 2012, 2013, 2014. For instance, I appreciated the unwed Mother story and think I understood it, but others might not at all. Or be appalled at such strong sensibilities of consequence in all these second half of the 20th Century stories.

  • Trish
    2019-04-28 08:50

    The People on Privilege Hill contains stories, short and quick and with adult emotions. Gardam has a laser-eye, and can have a razor-tongue, but she knows what humans are and what makes a story.In “The Fledgling," we are introduced to that self-conscious teen ready to leave the nest, and the mixed emotions of parent and child are recognizable and painful and funny at the same time. In “Dangers” we encounter a story reminiscent of the UK’s BBC radio show My Word, where segments often feature a funny and circuitous word etomology. “Waiting for a Stranger” may be my favorite of all, as an uncertain hostess waits for an overseas guest to arrive at her remote farm cottage. There had been only a day to prepare--it was a sudden request from her minister and her guest is a black African bishop. She is a farm wife and mother, and she’d never seen a black man in the flesh before, just on the telly. There is something terribly poignant about the care for a stranger.In ”The Virgin of Bruges,” Gardam displays her trademark dry wit: But even if she had not wanted me I would have gone to her. Frédérique is unlike me. She is a mother, wife of a farmer, beautiful, resourceful, practical, intellectual. I am a small, short man. "Pangbourne" is a story of cherishing another being, sharing their space, and their life, with no expectation of any return. And Gardam breaks our hearts with “The Latter Days of Mr. Jones,” the story of an elderly man, alone and never married, accused of hateful crimes against children. Each story illuminates corners of the human psyche and doesn’t bore us with too much of anything—explanations or asides, regrets or remarks. Just short stories that remain long in one’s memory.

  • Paul Fulcher
    2019-04-27 11:57

    Some nice colour, particularly of Wimbledon of a certain vintage, and as someone who lives there I can see the transformation of the area she describes.But many of the stories seemed more like observation pieces and didn't really go anywhere.Much weaker for my taste that the Old Filth novels.

  • Carol
    2019-05-19 16:19

    I had held off on this book, because it was the last bit of writing about the characters from Old Filth, etc., that I hadn't read; I wanted to keep something in reserve. The first story has Veneering, Feathers, and Fiscal-Smith, and it was even better than I had hoped. In the few-ish pages of the story, Gardam gives a lovely sketch of these characters, with a bit of longed-for extra information about Veneering. Very satisfying. All of the stories are wonderful, sympathetic, empathetic, forgiving, and well written. I'm looking forward to re-reading it someday.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-05 16:16

    A wonderful collection especially the first story which I really enjoyed. Gardam can be funny, wry, so intuitive. Her prose is lovely, her characters very endearing and beautifully written and I love the way she can integrate the everyday into such amazing tales...

  • Mike
    2019-05-03 11:58

    Collection of short stories in typical Jane Gardam style. Very readable.

  • Frandy
    2019-04-29 09:14

    Wonderful collection of short stories by the impeccable Jane Gardam.

  • Jennifer Shepard
    2019-05-07 15:57

    3.5, not Gardam's strongest stories, though I did, as always, enjoy spending the time with her writing.

  • Alicia
    2019-05-14 12:55

    What makes gems interesting? There is the initial impression-sparkle maybe, or color. But when you really look into one of the magical stones --diamonds, rubies, emeralds -- you see more depth, more color and sometimes more brilliance. You have to keep on looking - a casual glance won't do - to appreciate the result. Precisely the reason reviewers use "gem" to describe some writing. It is hard to speak too highly of Jane Gardam. This collection of short stories does a lovely job of demonstrating her breadth. They surprised me. I have read Old Filth, The Man in the Wooden Hat, and Queen of the Tambourine, all novels. This was my first exposure to Gardam in other moods. Who knew she wrote ghost stories? She does (Waiting for a Stranger)and even if the plot device, at the end, is a little predictable, she uses the opportunity to consider our willingness (or lack) to accept people and events that are different. The protagonist is Lizzie, a farm wife who agrees at the last minute to put up a stranger for the evening as a favor to the vicar. The metaphor of the long road approaching the farm, where she can see approaching cars--they dodge in and out of view as they come up the hills -- is telling. Gardam uses metaphors with the delicacy of a water colorist. She captures the generation gap --a huge difference in perception -- in The Fledgling as a son, who has become a stranger to his mother, leaves for school. In Pangborne, she returns to a familiar Gardam theme: love as central to survival, even if the one you love is a gorilla. The Latter Days of Mr. Jones circles another Gardam theme -- simply being different is a crime; in this case your heart breaks just a little. There are 14 stories in all, and they are difficult to categorize. A nun who becomes a stand in for the Virgin Mary at Christmas in Bruges. A hairdresser changes the hair and the life of the mother of a bride, touching on a Gardam theme of how impressions allow us to misread our lives. These are very short short stories, making it all the more astonishing that she manages to fully capture her themes.Gardam is so English and so is understated. She is subtle, and nuance matters. She is very observant. She understands and forgives the errors our hearts lead us to. She is gently amused by our failures, keen to our ironies. She writes so well that it makes me want to hide my keyboard from myself. This little book will live on my bedside table so I can re-read them from time to time.

  • Kiwiflora
    2019-04-28 10:02

    Jane Gardam started having her writings published when she was in her 40s. Now in her mid-80s, she is still writing and publishing. She seems to like writing books and stories about older people, people who have seen something of life, have fears and insecurities brought on by disappointments and failures. As do we all. The glass is not really half full anymore, but life is not yet over and there be some living yet to do. She has the most acute eye in her story telling and characters. This book is a collection of short stories, really just about ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, and then having a bit of curve ball thrown at them that they have to deal with. Sometimes well with a good outcome, and often not so well with not such a good outcome. It could become depressing and maudlin, but because her writing is more about the human condition than about the human subject of her stories, it never really feels too awful and sad. It's wonderful stuff, the stories are short, incisive and observant, and just the right amount of pathos. But she is such a good writer, and I have now read three of her books, I think anything she wrote would be well worth the time taken to read and enjoy and savour.

  • Rita
    2019-05-05 09:50

    c 2008 [[some stories publ. 1996, 200, 2003]Everything Gardam writes is good.Novels I tend to like better than short stories, and with Gardam too, I like reading her novels best.Each short story has a twist of some kind to it. A surprise, something unexpected or ironic. It makes me wonder if it wouldn't detract from the pleasure of reading the story a second time, but maybe not. Her characterizations are always brilliant, and it's always amazing how few words she needs to do them.My favorite of this collection is The Last Reunion, about 4 women classmates who together attend a reunion of their old college when they are in their mid 60s. You get a thumbnail sketch of how they each were during college and of what has happened in their lives since, and a bit about how they relate to each other, and to those of their teachers who are present. IN just a few pages, you get a detailed impression of the physical campus and all the lives and relationships. Very nicely done.The Flight Path was also really good, set in WW II London when there were bombs raining down nightly. How very differently each of the characters dealt with the situation.

  • Courtney
    2019-05-18 14:09

    Simple, beautiful stories about middle class people of all ages and many eras in Britain. Here's a passage from one of my favorites, "The Fledgeling," in which Lester is a self-centered teenager who has just repeatedly rejected his parents at an important moment. His mother narrates her response:And she hated Lester. This Lester. She longed for the Lester who used to come in cheerful from school shouting, “Mum? I’m home, Mum. Can I go out now?” Or, “You in Mum? I’m top again.” Or, “Mum, where’s Dad? Is he going fishing?” Or, “I bought this for you, Mum.”She longed for the earlier Lester who liked her to read to him in bed. “Go on, Mum. Don’t stop now. Go on!” Or the earlier-still Lester, heavy and warm and teething; on her shoulder as she patted his back. Or the newborn Lester who had lain in his pram, gazing in wonder. Wonder at everything. At his own wrists. At leaves across the window, at the eyes of the cat, at the flames in the fire. The Lester who had stroked her face as he fed from her breast.

  • Iolande Diamantis
    2019-05-05 07:50

    My best friend lent me this book years ago and I only finally got around to reading it as a way to procrastinate through my exams. To be honest it's not something I would usually read by choice. Short stories are not my favourite type of fiction and the themes of these stories are not common place in my bookshelf. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst this is not my favourite book, I grew to adore all of the characters and their little idiosyncrasies. I really missed each character after their story was over, wishing to read more about each one of them. The stories focussed on elderly people and their memories (I think I read this book a long time ago and I'm just getting around to reviewing it) And I really liked these themes more than I expected.Whilst not the happiest or most cheerful book it's extremely loveable, heartwarming and realistic in the way it explores habits and memories. I really would recommend this book, perhaps not to teenagers, but to adults whose own parents are elderly. They may recognise a few character traits ;P

  • Shonna Froebel
    2019-05-01 09:12

    I've loved Jane Gardam as a writer since I was first introduced to her at the age of sixteen, by a cousin I was visiting. This story collection is no exception.I think her characters are all very realistic and I can connect to them easily. Here the title story has characters from her last novel, Old Filth, which was an unexpected delight.The stories range wildly in situation, characters and setting, but all have a casual tone to them, a bit of the everyday even when something in the story changes lives.I think one of my favourites in this collection is Snap, in which a woman, married thirty years to the only man she's ever had sex with, breaks her ankle in the ensuite bathroom of a hotel she stays at with her lover. Gardam has many great stories here though and I plan to revisit them soon.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-22 12:50

    Jane Gardam has become one of my favorite new authors. I loved Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat, and this collection of short stories was just as wonderful. To bring to life such vivid characters and emotions within the confines of the short story parameters is truly a gift. Not a word is wasted but skillfully chosen to illuminate and clarify. Those who also love the Edward Feathers (Old Filth) character will be rewarded with a lovely continuation of his story in the first story, named after the book. Highly recommended.

  • Griselda Heppel
    2019-05-02 08:05

    The subtlety and depth of Jane Gardam's writing put her in a class of her own. I loved this book with its portrayal of decent, kind people finding themselves in situations beyond their control, and responding the best way they can. Events are described with such lightness of touch that the pain they cause comes through all the sharper, and the heroism of the bewildered protagonists all the more heartbreaking. All the short stories in this collection are fine but for me 'The Latter Days of Mr Jones' and 'Waiting for a Stranger' stand out for their poignancy.

  • Susann
    2019-05-17 13:58

    She's been writing for decades, but Jane Gardam is my new favorite author. NPR's Maureen Corrigan uses the apt phrase "wit and weirdness" to describe this collection of short stories. Gardam's economical style and dry humor reminded me of Penelope Fitzgerald, conveying so much with so few words. Her warmth and quotidian details reminded me of Penelope Lively. I'm very eager to read her other novels and stories.For Corrigan's review and for my favorite story of the collection (Pangbourne), click here:

  • Alice
    2019-05-02 16:07

    Having adored the Old Filth series (three novels) I guess I'm spoiled. I expected to love these stories as well. I liked them, and in a few cases, found them hilarious or quite moving. But as a body of work this book didn't quite measure up to my standards for Ms. Gardam's writing. I hold her in such high esteem that perhaps I'm quite unreasonable to expect a home-run in each try. That said, if you are a fan of this author, read these for her wonderful sense of humor and sense of place. And if you haven't read Old Filth and its two sisterly novels, read them.

  • John
    2019-04-24 15:04

    Not a bad collection - one story whose ending I didn't exactly "get", a couple that were just sort of "there", a couple that really stood out, and the rest pretty good. Nice, wide range of topics (plots) - from a ghost story to the effects of onsetting Alzheimer's.I'm not a short story reader, but a fan of Gardam's writing. This collection makes a good introduction to her style for folks not willing to invest in starting a full novel by a new author.

  • Jerry Landry
    2019-05-22 11:54

    If I were to describe this short story collection in three words, they would be delightful, dark, and British. I love Gardam's writing style -- surreal and dark at times, yet overall very playful. My favorite stories in the collection were "The Latter Days of Mr. Jones" which broke my heart, "The Hair of the Dog" which kept me wondering, and "Snap" with its sense of irony. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes descriptive yet at times mysterious short stories.

  • Harini Srinivasan
    2019-05-13 13:17

    From the back-of-the-book blurb, I thought this was going to be almost a sequel to Old Filth, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a collection of unrelated short stories. Only the first was about "Filth" Feathers. The stories are well written, funny and surprising, in a Muriel Sparkish way. But I could not overcome my disappointment and managed to get through only three. So back to the library it goes! I may give it a shot some other time.

  • Amy
    2019-05-11 15:55

    This was one of the books Molly chose for me for Christmas. I should have her choose about half my books. She's really good at picking books that are not my usual type, but that I love anyway.This one was a series of extremely well written character sketches. Several had a little twist of irony at the end that reminded me of a short story I read a long time ago. Maybe "Roman Fever" by Edith Wharton?

  • WndyJW
    2019-05-14 13:53

    I became a fan of Jane Gardham after Old Filth and am now even more eager to read all of her work after this collectIon of stories. I read for characters and am immediately drawn in to first person narratives. This book is full of interesting characters. The stories are more comforting than challenging and there is no diversity, all the characters are British, but I found them charming. This is a "comfort" book for me.

  • Beth
    2019-04-25 14:55

    In this collection of short stories, many characters are interesting and eccentric. (For example, one story focuses on a woman who falls in love with a gorilla at the zoo.) And, although in several instances, stories end with characters getting what they seem to deserve (either positive or negative), the stories weren't predictable to me.