The old wives' tale

Front Cover
Penguin Books, Apr 1, 1983 - Fiction - 617 pages
24 Reviews
"Every stout, ageing woman is not grotesque -- far from it! -- but there is an extreme pathos in the mere fact that that every stout ageing woman was once a young girl with the unique charm of youth in her form and her movements and in her mind. And the fact that the change from the young girl to the stout ageing woman is made up of an infinite number of infinitesimal changes, each unperceived by her, only intensifies the pathos. It was at (the) instant (of this observation) that I was visited by the idea of writing the book which ultimately became The Old Wives' Tale." So writes Arnold Bennett in the preface to his masterpiece of realistic fiction, a book that follows the lives of two sisters, Constance and Sophia, from simple days in mid-Victorian England through the chaos and tumult of the modern age. Along the way, a novel is built, detail by rich detail, that rivals the great realistic works of Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Maupassant.Critical commentary on classic books is readily available from academics and career critics. But what do the greats have to say about the greats? In addition to the new Introductions we've commissioned from today's top writers and thinkers, we will provide a full Commentary section, excerpting book reviews and other critical essays from major authors -- E. M. Forster on Sinclair Lewis, Virginia Woolf on Forster, etc. We've edited these pieces down to the most salient and provocative passages, or we're running short pieces a

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

The psychological insight is acute. - Goodreads
Bennett's deft observations and characterizations. - Goodreads
That is the plot of this book. - Goodreads

Review: The Old Wives' Tale

User Review  - Diane - Goodreads

It was fun entering into this older style of narrative, its language and details, pace and perspectives. Reminded me a bit of Lark Rise to Candleford and Mrs. Gaskell and maybe Beatrix Potter, a ... Read full review

Review: The Old Wives' Tale

User Review  - Wordeater - Goodreads

This was one of the first books I read, after some years of continual reading hit-and-miss disappointment, that struck a chord with me and finally set me onto a long and fulfilling literary road ... Read full review


The Tooth

26 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1983)

Arnold Bennett was born on May 27, 1867 in Hanley, Staffordshire, England. He began his working career as a law clerk and later he left the legal field and became an editor for the magazine Woman. His first novel was "A Man from the North." He wrote several novels set in Hanley, the town where he was born. These are known as the Five Town novels. Other titles include "The Babylon Hotel," "The Truth about an Author," and "How to Live on 24 Hours a Day." "The Journal of Arnold Bennett" was published posthumously in three volumes. Bennett died in London of typhoid fever on March 27, 1931.

John Wain, 1925-94, was an English novelist and critic. He served as professor of poetry at Oxford (1973-8) and wrote or edited more than seventy books. His works include the novels A Winter in the Hills (1970) and The Pardoner's Tale (1978); Letters to Five Artists (1969), poems; and critical
studies of Arnold Bennett (1967) and Samuel Johnson (1975).

Bibliographic information