'It's a cliche to compare novelists to Jane Austen, but in the case of Jane Gardam it happens to be true.
Her diamond-like prose, her understanding of the human heart, her formal inventiveness and her sense of what it is to be alive - young, old, lonely, in love - never fades' Amanda Craig'Her work, like Sylvia Townsend Warner's, has that appealing combination of elegance, erudition and flinty wit' Patrick GaleFilth (Failed In London, Try Hong Kong) is a successful lawyer when he marries Elisabeth in Hong Kong soon after the War.
Reserved, immaculate and courteous, Filth finds it hard to demonstrate his emotions.
But Elisabeth is different - a free spirit. She was brought up in the Japanese Internment Camps, which killed both her parents but left her with a lust for survival and an affinity with the Far East.
No wonder she is attracted to Filth's hated rival at the Bar - the brash, forceful Veneering.
Veneering has a Chinese wife and an adored son - and no difficulty whatsoever in demonstrating his emotions . . . How Elisabeth turns into Betty and whether she remains loyal to stolid Filth or is swept up by caddish Veneering, makes for a page-turning plot in a perfect novel which is full of surprises and revelations, as well as the humour and eccentricites for which Jane Gardam's writing is famous.