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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

Not my favourite Hardy, I've found others of his far superior.

It isn't Mr. Hardy's best novel, but it is still very very good. The quality of the writing is hugely better than most of the things that I read in terms of richness of expression, characters, plotting and thematic development. It's a pleasure to read. One of the things that I like best in Mr. Hardy

The least pronounceable of Thomas’s novels (LAY-oh-du-SEE-an) is an overlong “romance” exploring one woman’s relationship between modernity and antiquity, the former an architect the latter a ramshackle Count. Paula Power’s POV is never explored in the novel, leaving her an arch and harried heroine,

There’s a particular pleasure that comes with having read so much of an author’s oeuvre that you find yourself reaching deep into the back catalogue for new experiences. I love reading the less-celebrated or more obscure works by a famous author. Sometimes they are less-celebrated and more obscure f

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