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Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was an English author, born in one of the "Five Towns" which form the background of so many of his witty stories. When Alice joins her husband, whom due to the war she has barely seen since their marriage two years earlier, on his yacht for a belated honeymoon, she discovers that a boat is far from an ideal location to get to know one's spouse. For a start, there is no privacy anywhere. The crew can hear everything. Secondly, life about ship is run by men and operates on male terms. Alice sets out to establish herself as mistress of both her husband and his ship.Show more
Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was an English author, born in one of the "Five Towns" which form the background of so many of his witty stories. When Professor Malpetant pays an unannounced visit to his sister, Muriel, he finds nobody at home. Both Muriel and her maid, Annie, have gone out, though he finds the door unlocked and takes the opportunity to take a look around the house. In Muriel's bedroom he uses the telephone to call the station and arrange his onward journey to Bristol before setting off for the station. It is only when he is steaming on his way to Bristol that he realises he has left his umbrella in Muriel's bedroom. The unexplained presence of a man's umbrella in Muriel's room plunges the entire household and neighbourhood into crisis. Rumours fly, suspicions and accusations are at first whispered...and later hurled. No umbrella ever caused so much trouble to so many people.Show more
Spanning nearly half a century, The Old Wives Tale is epic in scale and scope, tracing as it does the effects of time on two sisters and their surroundings. The novel is a domestic story told with tenderness, and is concerned not with heroic statesmen or soldiers, but with small details of daily life in a way which demonstrates Bennett's great debt to French realist writers. The action is concentrated mainly within the provincial town of Bursley, a startling contrast to Paris where Sophia and Gerald elope. 1. GIRLS TOGETHER. Constance and Sophia are the teenage daughters of invalid John Baines, Bursley's foremost draper. As the girl laugh at Maggie, the maid, who is in love yet again, Samuel Povey, an assistant in the shop, arrives suffering from toothache. He later asks for medicine and the girls comply. Cyril falls asleep with his mouth open and, mischievously, Sophia removes his loose tooth with a pair of pliers. At tea, to the girls' embarrassment, he suddenly declares that he must have swallowen his tooth. 2. DEATH IN THE FAMILY. A circus comes to Bursley and although not considered respectable entertainment, Constance persuades her mother to accompany her to see the elephant. Mr Povey escorts the ladies, leaving Sophia to look after her father. However, while they are out, Gerald Scales, a handsome salesman, calls and flirts with Sophia in the shop. Meanwhile, Mr. Baines is left on his own and chokes to death. On hearing the news Mrs Baines is magnificently calm in public, but in private she collapses. 3. WEDDING BELLS. Soon after Mrs. Baines hears that Gerald Scales has inherited money and left his firm. She discovers that her daughter has also gone. A fortnight later, a note from Sophia announces her marriage to Gerald and their departure for Paris. Mrs Baines is distraught. Samuel Povey marries Constance and, back from their honeymoon, they self-consciously settle into the Baines house. On their first night home, Constance chides Samuel for his `horrid' paper collars, which he had not worn on their honeymoon. He is insulted and for a moment they are on the edge of violent quarrel. Six years pass smoothly in hard work and marital happiness. Samuel is almost 40 when Constance announces she is pregnant. 4. SQUANDERED WEALTH. Gerald and Sophia, living abroad, act as if his fortune will last forever. The capital melts away, however, hastened by Gerald's disastrous speculations on the stock exchange. By May 1870 they are almost penniless and are living in cheap hotel. Sophia realizes that her elopement was a mistake and that Gerald is also unfaithful to her. However, she refuses his request to write to her family begging for money. One night Gerald abandons Sophia. She is left with little money, but she manages to lease the pension Frensham, an English hotel in Paris. She knows nothing of hotel-keeping, but her work makes it a success. She is now called Mrs. Frensham by most guests, and continues to have no contact with her family in Bursley. 5. CONTACT RENEWED. Matthew Peel- Swynnerton, from an eminent family in the Five Towns, stays at the Frensham. He suspects its proprietress to be the long vanished aunt of his friend Cyril Povey. Sophia does not react to his enquiries concerning Cyril, but facially she 'reminds Matthew so strongly of his friend that he is certain she is Cyril's aunt. Back in London, Matthew relays the news to Cyril, who is uninterested. Matthew then hastens to Bursly to tell Constance of his meeting with Sophia. She collapses in a shock, for she hasn't heard from her sister in 30 years. She writes a warm letter to Sophia and re-establishes contact. Sophia responds quickly, although she vows never to return to Bursley. However, Constance is in ill health, so Sophia goes to her. 6. FAMILY REUNION. In Bursly, awkward in each other's company after so many years apart, Sophia and Constance chat politely over tea and admire old photographs. Sophia shakes Constance by admitting that she does not know where her husband is, or even if he is still, alive. The next day, Sophia is dismayed by the cramped ugliness of Bursly. However, she has no wish to leave Constance now. 7. DOUBLE DEATH. Unable to persuade Constance to leave Bursly, Sophia stays on but is irritated because she cannot modernise the house. In every other way, however, she rules the home, to Constance's secret annoyance. None the less, the women are happy together until a telegram from Manchester announces that Gerald us ill. Sophia rushes to him, but arrives too late. Looking at his corpse, she grieves bitterly for his lost youth and vigour. Back in Bursly, she has a fit and dies. 8. CONSTANCE'S END. Cyril arrives in time for his aunt's funeral and organizes everything perfectly. He inherits Sophia's considerable fortune but this scarcely affects him, for he drifts through life a dilettante, after failing as an artist. While travelling abroad, he misses his mother's last illness, the gravity of which is hidden from her. Constance accepts her condition with her normal resignation, regretting only that she has spoiled Cyril. She dies calmly in the night.Show more
Arnold Bennett was born in 1867 in Hanley one of the six towns that formed the Potteries that later joined together to become Stoke On Trent; the area in which most of his works are located. For a short time he worked for his solicitor father before realising that to advance his life he would need to become his own man. Moving to London at 21 he obtained work as a solicitor’s clerk and gradually moved into a career of Journalism.At the turn of the Century he turned full time to writing and shortly thereafter in 1903 he moved to Paris and in 1908 published to great acclaim The Old Wives Tale. With this his reputation was set. Clayhanger and The Old Wives Tale are perhaps his greatest and most lauded novels. But standing next to these are many fine short stories and it is to these in this volume we turn our attention. Bennett bathes us in vignettes of life, of characters that whatever their ambitions are easy to immerse ourselves in.Show more
Theodore Racksole, a rich American multi millionaire, buys the Grand Babylon Hotel, a luxurious hotel in London, as a whim - and then finds out there are strange things going on - a German prince is supposed to arrive but never turns up, someone is found murdered in the hotel, but then the body disappears. With the help of his independent daughter Nella and another German prince, Racksole sets out to solve the mystery. Bennett wrote this as a 15 part serial, for a lark, in 15 days, and sold it for 100 pounds. It first appeared in The Golden Penny in 1902, which described it as 'the most original, amusing, and thrilling serial written in a decade'.Show more
Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was an English author, born in one of the Five Towns which form the background of so many of his witty stories. 'The Fire of London' is an unusual mystery story about a case of fraud and blackmail. Bruce Bowring, a businessman of dubious integrity, has been running what amounts to a Ponzi scheme in the heart of the city of London. At the start of our story, Bowring receives a mysterious telephone call from a stranger, warning him that his house will be burgled that evening. Shortly afterwards, a telegram arrives, signed by his wife, suggesting they dine out, as their cook is drunk. As Bowring sets off for the rendezvous with his wife, he has no inkling of the strange series of adventures which await him.Show more
Every town should have a 'card' - someone who gets talked about, someone who does mad and wonderful things, someone who makes you laugh. Bursley in the Five Towns has a 'card': Edward Henry Machin (Denry for short). Denry begins life in a poor little house where the rent is twenty-three pence a week. But before he's thirty, he's made a lot of money, and had more adventures than you and I have had hot dinners. The town of Bursley never stops talking about him. Whatever will young Denry do next?Show more
This is a selection of short stories recounting, with gentle satire and tolerant good humour, the small town provincial life at the end of the nineteenth century, based around the six towns in the county of Staffordshire, England, known as the Potteries. Arnold Bennett chose to fictionalize these towns by changing their names and omitting one (Fenton) as he apparently felt that 'Five Towns' was more euphonious than 'Six Towns'. The real town names which are thinly disguised in the novel are: Hanley, Longton, Burslem and Tunstal, the fifth, Stoke became 'Knype'.Show more
Arnold Bennett is famous for his stories about the Five Towns and the people who live there. They look and sound just like other people, and, like all of us, sometimes they do some very strange things. There's Sir Jee, who is a rich businessman. So why is he making a plan with a burglar? Then there is Toby Hall. Why does he decide to visit Number 11 Child Row, and who does he find there? And then there are the Hessian brothers and Annie Emery - and the little problem of twelve thousand pounds.Show more
Self and Self-Management: Essays about Existing is one of Bennett's most successful works, comprising a series of essays that address the struggles concerning work that mainly young women have faced during his time, at an individual level. The essays start at a basis that seems to suggest all individuals have a certain ability to use their energy wisely while working, and to either tap into their own resources, or use tactics of avoidance that can be extremely elaborate at a psychological level. According to Bennett, 'some individuals appear to lack energy, when, in fact, they are full of energy which is merely dormant.' The essays themselves tackle issues that we are faced with on a daily basis even today. The lack of useful energy, inspiration and motivation that even the most brilliant people in the world seem to cope with at times often leads to debilitating consequences, many of which can be avoided - according to Bennett - with a proper understanding of the process. The author takes us through a deep psychological and philosophical journey into the human psyche, that seems to lead to practical applications and results, however, only for those willing to put the ideas of books such as this one to the task.Show more
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