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Old Wives' Tales

Twenty-first century lessons from the lives of eighteenth century women

Clare Heath-Whyte


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Old Wives' Tales

Twenty-first century lessons from the lives of eighteenth century women

Clare Heath-Whyte



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In the eighteenth century God used men such as John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards to bring spiritual revival to both Britain and America - but what about the women in their lives? What was it like to live and work with such dynamic and demanding men? While looking through the lens of history, Clare Heath-Whyte draws out lessons for today, via the honest portraits of these seven unique women. From godliness to bitterness, hostility to courage, the lives of these extraordinary women point us to a faithful God, even in the midst of the most difficult of life's scenarios.

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Clare Heath-Whyte

Clare Heath-Whyte

Clare Heath–Whyte is a popular speaker and author of “Old Wives’ Tales” and “First Wives’ Club”. Clare is Vaughan Robert’s sister and is married to David who is a vicar who writes groovy tunes. They have two children and live in Morden, South London.

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Overall rating

5.0 based on 13 reviews

Very good

A very good book we use it for a small group study session and it works well, equally good for an individual read.

Miriam Fife


I loved this book! The stories are varied and fascinating. It has an engaging style so that you could give it to a younger teenager, but at the same time it deals with profound issues with compassion and insight. I appreciated the applications to our own lives and especially the study questions with each chapter, which are based around a bible passage rather than just the chapter itself. This makes it a really useful tool for small groups or one to one partnerships. I wanted to give it to everyone for Christmas and found myself planning where I could use it in church life.

Rebecca Jenkins

For men too!

The women of the 18th century revival have often been overlooked. This book gives sketches of the famous (e.g. Selina Countess of Huntingdon) and the little known (Sally and Molly Wesley, wives of Charles and John respectively). Husbands can read this to see helpful and unhelpful ways to relate to their wives, and many of the lessons to applicable to all Christians, not just wives. It is also part of the human back story of the revival.

Stephen Ayre


In this fabulous book, Clare Heath-Whyte brings to life seven women from a very different culture, who would normally seem so distant to us. They struggled with lots of the same things we do today including persecution for their faith, jealousy and difficult marriages and any woman could certainly see aspects of her own failings in their equally flawed characters. They also endured far worse things than many of us could ever imagine in the 21st century - horrible, deadly diseases, outliving their own children and travelling in treacherous conditions across the world with missionary husbands. But they continually strived to live godly lives, committed to their families - lives that glorified our faithful God. This is a great read with gripping historical background, the fascinating 'other side' of some well-known stories and thought-provoking Bible-based reflections between each woman's tale. Not just for wives - it is a perfect resource for one - to - ones, study groups or even for personal reading, suitable for any woman over the age of 18. This book will both challenge and encourage you, teaching some valuable lessons along the way. As ordinary Christian women today, we should live extraordinary lives, being thankful for what we have and faithful to a God that will never leave us.

Harriet Espin-Bradley


During my annual summer book reading fest, this is the one I devoured the quickest. Old Wives Tales is an engaging and honest look at women mainly married to great Christian leaders of the 18th century. These well researched stories are fascinating and Clare's contemporary and compelling style of writing had me hooked from the beginning. Although the book marches along at quite a brisk pace, I still found myself emotionally involved. Several times I caught myself gasping with disbelief, wiping away a tear and even laughing out loud. This book, however, is much more than just a riveting read. Firstly, it's humbling. I found so much in these stories to admire and spur me on. These women helped me to realise how petty my problems often are and how pathetic my response can be. Secondly, it's encouraging. Clare "warts" all approach dispels some of the unhelpful romantic myths surrounding many of these women (and their husbands). They were not super-humans created to make us feel inadequate, but weak vessels who, like us, God chose to use. Thirdly, it's liberating. It reminded me there are no magic formulas for happy marriages, saved children or successful ministries. At the end of the day everything is dependent on God's grace. Our role is simply to follow him faithfully. Fourthly, it's challenging. I loved the concept of autobiographies with direct personal challenges throughout. A Bible study at the end of each story looks at some of the aspects covered, making it suitable not only for personal reflection but also for small groups and book clubs. Finally, this book is relevant. Clare skilfully convinced me that the lives and struggles of modern women today are not really so different to those in the 18th century, but, more importantly, that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Jane McNabb, The Slade Evangelical Church, Plumstead, S.E. London

A nice gift...

Pastors, ministers and male church workers should buy this book and give it to their wives, to encourage them as they encourage us. been a good help to do so personally

Keith mcIl

I challenge anyone not to finish this book

Relating our experience to history is something many of us love to do. This excellent book, featuring wives from the 18th Century, gives an extraordinary insight into women's lives and how each approached serving Christ. Each is so different and yet there are some aspects of life described that make the reader feel very at home. There are others that are challenging and some that could be described as disturbing. I challenge anyone not to finish this book - it will inspire, challenge and entertain as we continue to be Christian wives in the 21st Century.

Rachel Baughen - Keswick trustee

Loved the book!

I loved Claire Heath-Whyte's book about real women, striving to live faithfully for Christ in a culture that was hostile to the Christian message. These 18th Century women seem strangely familiar - they struggled in their relationships with others and with God. Their lives were by no means perfect and some of them were not even that interesting. The unbelieving world criticized them and held them up to ridicule. Claire's book shows us how God works in and through his people despite their failings and difficulties. A great book for personal encouragement or for reading with a group.

Amanda Robbie

Fascinating, insightful, challenging

Both men and women, young and old alike, will benefit from this terrific book on some of the great evangelical women of church history. It made me pray for more like them, in zeal and in godliness, and could be one of the instruments God uses to answer that very prayer.

Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society and Adjunct Lecturer in Church History at WEST

An inspiring and insightful book

These women have mostly gone unrecognised; and may not have themselves believed that their lives held any significance. Nevertheless, these wives and mothers show us how much influence each of us can have by simply living the life God has given us for Him. A truly worthwhile read.

Alison Wynne, Member of General Synod

Also in this series

First Wives' Club
For Richer, For Poorer
Ministry Wives Biography Pack

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