The Old Wives' Tale

  • by Arnold Bennett
  • Narrated by David Haig
  • 24 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

First published in 1908, The Old Wives' Tale 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 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Slow down and let yourself go

For the first hour or so I wasn't at all sure I liked this audiobook. Arnold Bennett seemed to witter on a lot and while the reader was good at accents, he was a bit over-dramatic for my taste I thought. Gradually I got drawn in further and further however. I got completely absorbed in the tale of Constance and then the tale of Sophia. Not only was this a riveting story; sometimes Bennett's observations on the way human beings think and react were so accurate and timeless it was breathtaking. I now agree it's a masterpiece.
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- Jane

Masterly narration by David Haig

This is a superb work. Bennett‘s sweep of social history in provincial Bursley during the Victorian era is enlightened at all points by gentle irony and sardonic wit. The section which describes the Siege of Paris is fascinating and conveys a picture of conditions under the Siege which is quite different from that which we often imagine. The characterisation is masterly. The contrasting characters of the two sisters are portrayed with sympathy and understanding and the supporting characters are no less compelling. This really is compulsive listening – you won’t want to stop once you have started. David Haig’s narration is superb – his intonation and inflections convey the tone of the work perfectly - and what a joy it is to hear a narrator whose pronunciation of the French language is impeccable! I cannot praise this audio book highly enough.
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- Frances

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-12-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios