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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
110
4.5 out of 5 stars


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on 30 August 2013
A masterful insight into the soul of Woman, by way of following through the lives of a mother and her two daughters, almost in real time: it is a very long book, and yet it offers rich rewards for our concentration. Bennett is great at detail, only his detail is never excessive, with a purpose to it, and often very funny. The characters are complex, contradictory, you love them and you hate them, along with those who surround them and who are at the receiving end of their words and actions, and with the author whose discreet judgement of them is always to hand.
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on 22 June 2016
Brilliant book. Rereading it, as first read it as a teenager. Now in my 60's it means even more as all life is there. The small importances that we all have, Arnold Bennett does so well. Also the combination of pathos and humour which is in all great works is here in abundance. The scenes of the execution were so real that when I looked up I was surprised to find myself in the 21st century as the 19th had absorbed me completely.
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on 27 May 2014
I decided it was time to read some of the classics. In Arnold Bennett's Old Wives' Tale you are told the stories of two sisters from birth to death. The language is beautiful and the descriptions vivid. However the reading is long and hard going. I struggled through the book but although I did enjoy parts and the story was intriguing it is not a book that I would want to reread.
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on 16 November 2013
The Old Wives' Tale is just an example of how underrated much nineteenth-century writing is. This book involves you at every level, and every so often one gasps at another surprise (not mentioned in the other reviews). Wonderfully balanced writing of the very different lives of Sophia and Constance. With all its surprises, there is nothing out of place and nothing that one could not have predicted. It's wry, rich, with a suitably bleak ending.
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on 9 August 2014
I'm reading this at the moment.

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.
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on 1 June 2014
I have never read Arnold Bennett before and was motivated to do so by listening to the 'Great Lives' programme on Radio 4. He is someone who has, 'fallen out of fashion' and I agree with his advocate on the programme, this is an unfairness to a great writer. His ability to write about the lives of women is wonderful. The book was written around 1908 I think but for me, it has stood the test of time. A very good read.
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on 13 March 2015
the story of two sisters whose life goes both different ways but in the end brings them together again when they are old. In the beginning there were some dull moments and sometimes I lost interest but more and more you get into the sad story of both sisters, in the end dying both unhappy and sad with much regrets they had in their lives
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on 1 March 2012
I have read this novel before in book form and I found that it works fantastically well on the kindle format, their is an intimacy to the novel that translates to kindle very well. The work itself is without doubt a major piece of social history and a triumph from one of Britain's greatest ever novelists, he paints portraits of places and individuals, of the domestic and the social. Not to be missed.
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on 30 October 2014
Loved this book, long but so fluently written very easy to read. Prompted me to reflect on upbringing , personality and genes as architects of our lives. Read on kindle which had advantage of telling me how long til next chapter end and not allowing me to see how many pages left! Coincidentally, subsequently heard that Alan Johnson, labour politician , read Bennett when educating himself in his teens. Can understand the appeal, a turn of the century classic, but written in a very modern style.
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on 6 March 2016
I've never read Arnold Bennett before. He's as good as Trollope, at least in this book. He even tells you what the dog is thinking! Sad of course, I hope poor old Fossette lives out her days in comfort.
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