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The Old Wives' Tale (1908) by
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The Old Wives' Tale is a novel by Arnold Bennett, first published in 1908. It deals with the lives of two very different sisters, Constance and Sophia Baines, following their stories from their youth, working in their mother's draper's shop, into old age. It covers a period of about 70 years from roughly 1840 to 1905, and is set in Burslem and Paris. It is generally regarded as one of Bennett's finest works. Bennett was initially inspired to write the book by a chance encounter in a Parisian restaurant. In the introduction to the book, he says ...an old woman came into the restaurant to dine. She was fat, shapeless, ugly, and grotesque. She had a ridiculous voice, and ridiculous gestures. It was easy to see that she lived alone, and that in the long lapse of years she had developed the kind of peculiarity which induces guffaws among the thoughtless.
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