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The Daily Mail: "...there is more humour, pathors and compassion crammed into this slim volume than many a book twice its length."

Date: Jun 6 2013

It's hard to bid farewell to old friends, so for long-standing fans of Jane Gardam’s novels about QC Sir Edward Feathers (aka Old Filth - ‘Failed In London Try Hong Kong’) and his cohorts, this last book in the trilogy will be especially bittersweet.

Previous books have told the stories of Old Filth and his wife, Betty; now it’s the turn of Terry Veneering, Filth’s flamboyant, louche and brilliant arch-rival both in work and love.

Appropriately for a man with a Dickensian name, Veneering’s childhood - formerly shrouded in mystery - is revealed to be similarly Dickensian. The child of a Russian spy-cum-circus performer and an indomitable Teesside coal girl, young Terence Venetski flees the poverty of his pre-war upbringing as an evacuee heading for Canada before reinventing himself as a rising star of the Bar.

Opening shortly after the death of both Veneering and Old Filth there is, inevitably, an elegiac tone to Last Friends - albeit one leavened with Gardam’s sense of the ridiculous. While perhaps less of a stand-alone novel than the two that preceed it, there is more humour, pathos and compassion crammed into this slim volume than many a book twice its length.

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—Amber Pearson

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