The Old Wives' Tale: (A Modern Library E-Book)
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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afternoon antimacassar Arnold Bennett asked Aunt Harriet Baines’s beautiful bedroom began Bursley can’t Chirac Clayhanger Constance and Sophia Constance’s corner Critchlow Cyril Daniel Povey Dick Povey didn’t doctor door drawing-room exclaimed eyes face father felt Five Towns Fossette Frensham gaze Gerald Scales gesture girl glanced Hanbridge hand harmonium head heard heart Hortense Schneider hour I’ve John Baines King Street kitchen knew leave Lily lived looked Madame Foucault Maggie Mardon Matthew Miss Chetwynd Miss Insull morning mother murmured mysterious never night o’clock Old Wives once Paris parlour Peel-Swynnerton Povey’s replied Samuel Povey sciatica seemed servant Siege of Paris sister smiled St Luke’s Square stairs stared strange suddenly suppose sure talk tell There’s things thought told tone voice What’s wife window woman word young