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Two on a Tower

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

The plot concerns two – literally starcrossed – lovers: Swithin St. Cleeve, a very young amateur astronomer, and Viviette Constantine, an unhappily married and abandoned woman 8 or 9 years his senior. Each night Swithin climbs the old tower of the title, in the grounds of the Constantine estate. Lady Constantine, whose husband has been absent some years on an extended hunting and exploring journey to Africa, joins the young man in his stargazing, and supports his astronomical ambitions by buying him equipment, though his dreams of scientific renown are disappointed.Their relationship then deepens and takes several twists and turns.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I simply give permission, since you desire it.  The path that was to be made from the hill to the park is not to be thought of.  There is to be no communication between the house and the column.  The equatorial will arrive addressed to you, and its cost I will pay through you.  My name must not appear, and I vanish entirely from the undertaking. . . .  This blind is necessary,’ she added, sighing.  ‘Good-bye!’

‘But you do take as much interest as before, and it will be yours just the same?’ he said, walking after her.  He scarcely comprehended the subterfuge, and was absolutely blind as to its reason.

‘Can you doubt it?  But I dare not do it openly.’

With this she went away; and in due time there circulated through the parish an assertion that it was a mistake to suppose Lady Constantine had anything to do with Swithin St. Cleeve or his star-gazing schemes.  She . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Thomas Hardy said that he wrote this novel “to set the emotional history of two infinitesimal lives against the stupendous background of the stellar universe…” To begin the tale, a woman decides to investigate a tower and meets a young astronomer there who introduces her to the wonders of the nig...more

What happens when a woman of a certain age, who is married and of the upper classes in England, is attracted to a younger, intelligent man of a family of farmers?
In the hands of Thomas Hardy it is a treat for the eye and ear as well as a good Hardy read. I never would have known this book exist...more

What intrigued me about this book was Hardy's characterization of the hero as a budding astronomer in the 18--'s. There are some fantastic dialogs between the two main characters about the stars and universe. Their sentiments in describing the experience of studying an infinite abyss of stars rin...more

Any TH novel subtitled “a romance” will, inevitably, end in tears, in copious buckets of tears cried for years and years, the buckets turning into wells, and the wells turning into lagoons. This nonromcom concerns Viviette Constantine, a monied woman who takes a liking to Swithin St Cleeve, an un...more

(4.5 rounded up, because I just enjoyed it that much.) In Welland is situated a memorial tower in a prehistoric wilderness. The tower stands in between Welland House, where neglected wife Viviette Constantine lives, and Welland Bottom, the dwelling of young, orphaned aspiring astronomer Swithin S...more

Come due moderni Vega e Altair, la tessitrice e il mandriano, Lady Constantine e il suo giovane protetto St. Cleeve, trovano la loro personale Via Lattea sulla vetta di una torre in disuso, punto d'incontro e di osservazione per due persone altrimenti inavvicinabili.
La torre del diciottesimo seco...more

My favourite Hardy's novel, hands down.
It wasn't as good as Tess of the d'Urbervilles nor Far From the Madding Crowd but this one talked to my soul and I will never ever forget it.

I did enjoy this, but it's not my favourite Hardy. It has some really interesting themes and quite an interesting central relationship, but I don't think the characters were as developed and the ending was quite odd. Hardy's writing is beautiful as always though.

Well, I am sad to say, but I am slowly winding up my summer of reading the literary works of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. I recently finished Thomas Hardy's Two on a Tower, one of his more obscure novels. Two on a Tower was first serialized in the Atlantic Monthly and then published in book-for...more

Two on a Tower

A haunting juxtaposition
Of heavenly exposition,
Astronomical exhibition,
And tragical perdition,
Rather spoiled in this edition
(a Penguin Classics commission)
By the unfortunate addition
Of some academic’s submission
To classify every position
At the expense of recognition.

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