Sunday, July 5, 2020

239. The Old Wives' Tale

The Old Wives' Tale
Arnold Bennett
Around 600 pages

I asked a male friend of mine how much I would have to pay him to read a book like this, and the demanded price was unfortunately out of my range. Oh well, at least the Listmakers seem to enjoy narratives like this as much as I do.

The novel recounts the lives of Constance and Sophia Baines, two sisters of very different temperaments. Sophia is seduced by a scoundrel who has no intention of marrying her, while Constance copes with her son being an enormous brat/terrible human being (he stole cake out of somebody's hands at a party; there can be no redemption for such a villain). The story spans about 80 years.

I like stories like this, that really dive into the characters' psyches and motivations. Of course, there is that natural author tendency, particularly with male writers, to place women in one of two categories: the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene. Bennet plays with this trope a little bit, but there were still those awkward moments where he succumbs to that cliche.

But I still was delighted by many phrases, even if 600 pages was a bit on the long side.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Bennett was heavily influenced by Maupassant's book, Une Vie.

Original copy is held in Lilly Library, Indiana. I finally have a reason to visit Indiana!

UP NEXT: The Iron Heel by Jack London.

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