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The Old Wives' Tale
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1001 book reviews > The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

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Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments 4.5 stars
Two sisters, with very different personalities: Constance, the steadfast one, and Sophia, the smart, but willful one. Their lives diverge after the death of their father, and converge again when they are in their 50s.

Constance stays home, marries her father's shopkeeper, and raises an ungrateful son. Sophia runs away with a cloth salesman, thwarting his intentions by forcing him to marry her. He abandons her in Paris not long after, with next to nothing but her smarts. Both sisters have troubles and triumphs, and their reunion is a very happy occurrence for both of them.

I very much enjoyed this book- it could easily have been written by Hardy- not only the topics, but the writing style. The writing flowed nicely, and it didn't feel like a 600 page novel written in the early 1900s by a man. Bennett must have been a bit of a feminist, because he gave those sisters some backbone. I would recommend this not-well-enough-known classic to fans of Hardy, Dickens, Woolf, Wharton and Rebecca West.

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Read 2011, A story of two sisters aptly titled Old Wives' Tale because it tells the ordinary progression of time till we die of these two English women. The author wrote in the fashion of Balzac. Arnold Bennett captured the life of a women well. The book also reflects a time when transportation and commerce is changing. This 600 plus page book reads fast because it is enjoyable.

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