Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
'[Arnold Bennett's] superb Old Wives' Tale, wandering from person to person and from scene to scene, is by far the finest 'long novel' that has been written in English and in the English fashion, in this generation.'
--H. G. Wells
First published in 1908, The Old Wives' Tale affirms the integrity of ordinary lives as it tells the story of the Baines sisters--shy, retiring Constance and defiant, romantic Sophia--over the course of nearly half a century. Bennett traces the sisters' lives from childhood in their father's drapery shop in provincial Bursley, England, during the mid-Victorian era, through their married lives, to the modern industrial age, when they are reunited as old women. The setting moves from the Five Towns of Staffordshire to exotic and cosmopolitan Paris, while the action moves from the subdued domestic routine of the Baines household to the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
'Like Wordsworth, [Arnold Bennett] has triumphed over the habitual; he has not let it disguise the particle of beauty from him.'--Rebecca West
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|Title of eBook: The Old Wives' Tale|
|Release Date: 11-01-2000|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Old Wives' Tale|
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The Old Wives' Tale
They were, for example, established almost precisely on the fifty-third parallel of latitude. A little way to the north of them, in the creases of a hill famous for its religious orgies, rose the river Trent, the calm and characteristic stream of middle England. Somewhat farther northwards, in the near neighbourhood of the highest public-house in the realm, rose two lesser rivers, the Dane and the Dove, which, quarrelling in early infancy, turned their back on each other, and, the one by favour of the Weaver and the other by favour of the Trent, watered between them the whole width of England, and poured themselves respectively into the Irish Sea and the German Ocean. What a county of modest, unnoticed rivers! What a natural, simple county, content to fix its boundaries by these tortuous island brooks, with their comfortable names--Trent, Mease, Dove, Tern, Dane, Mees, Stour, Tame, and even hasty Severn! Not that the Severn is suitable to the county! In the county excess is deprecated. The county is happy in not exciting remark. It is content that Shropshire should possess that swollen bump, the Wrekin, and that the exaggerated wildness of the Peak should lie over its border. It does not desire to be a pancake, like Cheshire. It has everything that England has, including thirty miles of Watling Street; and England can show nothing more beautiful and nothing uglier than the works of nature and the works of man to be seen within the limits of the county. It is England in little, lost in the midst of England, unsung by searchers after the extreme; perhaps occasion...