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A Laodicean : a Story of To-day

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

The Laodicean (someone whose religious beliefs are “lukewarm”) of the title is Paula Power who bought the ancient castle De Stancy which she is determined to restore. Being of a modern frame of mind, she has the telegraph connected to the castle – and uses it all the time in the course of the story.

George Somerset is a young architect who is invited to compete for the chance of the commission to restore the castle and who falls in love with Paula.

However, the brother of Paula’s great friend Charlotte De Stancy – of the aristocratic family that once owned the castle – aided by his villainous illegitimate son, sets out to win Paula for himself.

Although Paula likes the idea of being a De Stancy, she is drawn to George from the start. The various machinations of De Stancy and his son keep the narrative moving along at a fast pace.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Somerset overheard the words, though Paula was unaware of it—after which she clasped her fingers behind Charlotte's neck, and smiled tenderly in her face.

It seemed to be quite unconsciously done, and Somerset thought it a very beautiful action. Presently Paula returned to him and said, 'Mr. Somerset, I think we have had enough architecture for to-day.'

The two women then wished him good-morning and went away. Somerset, feeling that he had now every reason for prowling about the castle, remained near the spot, endeavouring to evolve some plan of procedure for the project entertained by the beautiful owner of those weather-scathed walls. But for a long time the mental perspective of his new position so excited the emotional side of his nature that he could not concentrate it on feet and inches. As Paula's architect (supposing Havill not to be admitted as a competitor), he must of necessity be in constant communication with her for a space of two. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A Laodicean is an aberration to Thomas Hardy's canon. With this text we have a rare comedy of errors from an author who is more renown for his dramas entrenched in tragedy. In John Schad's introduction he informs us, "architecture [is:] traditionally an analogue of all that is grounded and ration...more

A Laodicean: A Story of Today is a novel by Thomas Hardy, published in 1881. The full title was "A Laodicean; or The Castle of the Stanceys. A Story of Today", and first appeared in serial form in thirteen monthly installments by Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, with George Du Maurier's illustratio...more

I have read Thomas Hardy before, so I wasn't afraid to read this very-small-print-and-many-pages book that my book club chose for this month. Sadly, The Laodicean took me far longer to get into than Tess and I never did find any love or real sympathy for the main characters.

The plot is thus: Geor...more

A Laodicean is a bit of a departure for Hardy, in that he deals with a contemporary time period, rather than a previous, although the subject matter remains true to one of his themes, that of people attempting to shrug off the yoke of religious and social convention. In fact, the entire tone of t...more

I picked up a cheap penguin classics version of this in Camden to read while we were on holiday. I have to say the penguin edition was quite annoying as it had lots of footnotes and I found them very distracting as it disrupted the flow of the story when I had to go, Wait they really don't think...more

A curiously uneven novel, possibly because it was largely dictated by Hardy when very ill, but having to meet monthly magazine deadlines. On solid ground when based in England but there is almost an over-tortuous middle section when characters thunder through Europe, randomly meeting, or failing...more

Amazing - a Hardy novel I actually liked. It was so much more fun than Tess and Jude (not that that's difficult) with a villain who only needed a moustache to twirl to be perfect. Shame it's so unknown because I think it's the perfect introduction to Hardy's novels - lure them in before hitting t...more

However, there may remain a compensation of another sort in the character of Paula, who, on renewed acquaintance, leads me to think her individualized with some clearness, and really lovable, though she is of that reserved disposition which is the most difficult of all dispositions to depict, and...more

Not my favourite Hardy. It had some interesting characters and quite a twisting plot but I felt like the characters' motivations could have been developed more and it wasn't quite as engaging and moving as other Hardy books. The ending was also a bit weird.

This is typical Hardy, but not one of his better known novels. I found this one very variable; in parts as good as Hardy gets, in other places too rushed, too formulaic and predictable.
The title is based on the Laodicean Church in the Book of Revelation; who were neither hot nor cold. They were...more

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