Download The Old Wives’ Tale (Abridged) Audiobook

The Old Wives’ Tale (Abridged) Audiobook, by Arnold Bennett Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Arnold Bennett Narrator: Eileen Atkins Publisher: Copyright Group Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2014 ISBN: 9781780001968
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,115 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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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.

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Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 2/13/2014

    " Quite a good end of the Victorian Era page turner. Arnold invented a nice pair of sisters to care about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Werebot | 2/12/2014

    " I wasn't expecting to like this story of two old widows, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Well-paced and realistic, it's 500+ pages seemed much shorter. This is a very well-crafted novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 2/6/2014

    " This novel about two sisters whose lives take very different paths (one remains in their small town in England, while the other ends up running a hotel in Paris) is both funny and sad. Bennett's depiction of what goes on inside the heads of teenage girls is so accurate it's eerie--particularly considering he was a nineteenth-century man. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danoota | 2/3/2014

    " I loved this book. The story of two sisters who lived very different, estranged lives. One runs away to Paris, the other stays home and does "the right thing' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 timo0o | 1/31/2014

    " it's quite long, yet pleasant to read :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erica | 1/24/2014

    " A humane portrayal of two women throughout their lives and the changes that come to their community from the 1860s into the 20th century. I feel like Sophia and Constance are women I could have known/do know, especially since Bennett is adept at capturing inter-generational conflict and misunderstanding in the ways in which Constance's younger relations love her and yet are frustrated/bored by her. Bennett even anthropomorphizes the dogs that Sophia and Constance own throughout their lives, narrating the dog's inner monologues and, finally, humanizing them too. Poor Fossette survives them all, but like all of us, age tires her and yet she gets up and eats again anyway. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 1/16/2014

    " I was forced to read this book for a college course years ago and it is among my favorites now! Beautifully written, delicious characters. Brilliant! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 12/28/2013

    " Great book; subtle, funny, poignant, wise. Don't know why I bother with modern novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/15/2013

    " Solid book. Also from "my list," I had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin | 11/21/2013

    " Not a bad read, considering all that I'd heard about Bennett previous to opening this book was that he and Virginia Woolf had a serious rivalry. The realism in the book can get to be a bit much (death scenes tend to be rather short, especially at the opening.). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeanine | 11/13/2013

    " Surprised to find myself hooked on this soap opera from back in the day. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 5/3/2013

    " Possibly the only novel that I enjoyed from my 19th century British Literature class in college... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 3/12/2013

    " Read this because it was on Modern Library's Top 100. Nicely told story of 2 sisters' lives set in second half of 1800's. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 12/30/2012

    " Arnold Bennett has filled his 1908 novel with great characters who inhabit the worlds of sisters Constance and Sophia. Th novel spans from their lives from 16 and 17 to old age. I first read this book fifty years ago and I am glad to say I enjoyed it even more now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cecil | 11/24/2012

    " This is an excellent smooth flowing historical novel. The characters are well delineated. I enjoyed it tremendously. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rashid | 6/13/2012

    " This is a very intersting book..about two sisters. Beautifully written by one of my favorite english author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 6/2/2012

    " Slow to start, but overall good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 3/17/2012

    " Very enjoyable, an interesting plot of intersecting lives of two sisters who forged different destinies. Seemed quite modern, or ahead of its time, I would've assumed it was decades newer than it is. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruce | 9/1/2011

    " What a pleasant surprise to find this gem from the early part of the 20th Century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 4/8/2011

    " Quite a good end of the Victorian Era page turner. Arnold invented a nice pair of sisters to care about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 3/12/2011

    " Slow to start, but overall good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 timo0o | 2/21/2011

    " it's quite long, yet pleasant to read :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rashid | 1/15/2011

    " This is a very intersting book..about two sisters. Beautifully written by one of my favorite english author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 9/16/2010

    " this is a period piece. I loved the old English and the dipiction of life for women in Victorian England. I'm glad I read it on Kindle because I used the dictionary at least once per page to define archiac words. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin | 9/9/2010

    " Not a bad read, considering all that I'd heard about Bennett previous to opening this book was that he and Virginia Woolf had a serious rivalry. The realism in the book can get to be a bit much (death scenes tend to be rather short, especially at the opening.). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 9/2/2010

    " very engaging, interesting story about two sisters on divergent paths in life. takes place during the industrial revolution in suburban england. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 9/2/2010

    " Read this because it was on Modern Library's Top 100. Nicely told story of 2 sisters' lives set in second half of 1800's. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruce | 8/21/2010

    " What a pleasant surprise to find this gem from the early part of the 20th Century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jw | 7/5/2010

    " Warmly humanistic, beautifully written, and fascinating throughout. If you like 19th-century novels, this is definitely a winner. "

About the Author

Arnold Bennett (1867–1931) was an English writer best known for his highly detailed novels of the “Five Towns,” the Potteries of Staffordshire, England. He wrote over thirty novels and many lesser works throughout his career.

About the Narrator

Eileen Atkins has played many leading roles in the theater, in both classical and contemporary plays. She won the Evening Standard Award as Best Actress for her performance in The Killing of Sister George. She has also appeared on television and in film, including in The Cranford Chronicles, Waking the Dead, David Copperfield, and Gosford Park.