- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (31 May 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141442115
- ISBN-13: 978-0141442112
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Old Wives' Tale (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 31 May 2007
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"Bennett's masterpiece... There are few more moving accounts of the effects of time, the passage of history and the slow encroachment of age than this remarkable, epic novel" (Guardian)
"It's not just a wonderful story; it's also an expressionist masterpiece, almost surreal at times. It's also an amazing feat of empathy... It's also very intimate, and highly emotional. In fact, it's the perfect novel" (Deborah Moggach Independent)
"Arguably the finest novel written by an Englishman in the 20th century" (Daily Telegraph)
"Arnold Bennett did write one indisputable masterpiece, The Old Wives' Tale, and that is where I recommend you start... Each time I'm in the midst of reading it, I think it the best novel ever written" (Wendy Lesser New York Times)
"For Bennett...compassion is not soggy. It involves understanding. The core of his writing is psychological truth, clinically observed, crisply reported" (Sunday Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A long-neglected twentieth century masterpiece about the lives of two sisters, spanning seventy years of the nineteenth century from Northern England to Paris --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The local period detail of Bursley, one of ‘the five towns’ is, eventually, engrossing, as is the wider historical perspective of the German siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 – 1871. Bennett’s irony is at its best in his observations of the latter, in the light of his character’s almost total ignorance of what is happening at the end of the Parisian street she lives in.
The tale largely follows the lives of the Baines sisters. One stays put in Bursley and one finds herself transplanted by unforeseen circumstance to Paris and a personal history that demands an impressive level of ingenuity and business acumen in order for her to survive her fate. Each of the sisters sees the world from an entirely individual viewpoint, which begins with youthful positivity and ambition and develops by stages to a more reflective evaluation of what has come to pass.
What kept me gripped was the episodic nature of the story – Bennett leads his reader an interesting dance. I also loved the skilled depiction of Bursley – the gradual breaking up of its traditions and the dawning of industrialisation. And finally, the sheer likeability of the sisters with their underlying empathy for each other despite their very substantial differences.
Note: Like many classics, this book is free for kindle.
The fact that Bennett's work is 'out of fashion' and can be hard to find is a damning condemnation of the vagaries of fashion.
That such a book, a book in which every page has left me moved by the author's grasp of what it is to be human and by his capacity to communicate this, that such a book could be 'out of fashion' seems ridiculous. His account of one of his protagonists being present at a beheading left me stunned and trembling, without this protagonist even having actually seen anything of the actual execution itself.
I came to this book after having read his 'Clayhanger'. I had doubted that I could find another book so well written - 'The Old Wives' Tale' exceeded my hopes. I am grateful for it being so long - reading it is a pleasure I would want to make last as long as possible.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A really good read.I did not realise what an excellent writer Arnold Bennett was. I thoroughly recommend this book to you.Published 1 month ago by Colin F
Set firmly in the nineteenth century and in a small provincial town two sisters grow up in the local general store and have very different destinies - Constance remains in the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anne
As always, this author can hold my attention very skilfully. The most mundane domestic situations and circumstances in the narrative have a fascination. Read morePublished 3 months ago by NativeBrit
I can listen to Victorian literature for hours - so this kept me occupied for a while.Published 4 months ago by amemfajael
Somehow missed Bennett up to now, but so glad to have found him. Witty and extremely perceptive commentary on the human condition. Highly recommended.Published 7 months ago by JMD