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A Laodicean: A Story of Today (1881)

by Thomas Hardy

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432945,585 (3.53)10
Having accepted the suit of Captain, Paula discovers that his illegitimate son has hatched a plot against Somerset, and so does not go through with the marriage. Instead she finally marries Somerset, but her castle home is burned to the ground, and she remains a Laodicean to the end.
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
My immediate thoughts: why was this was so intricately prolonged? and then, I similarly enjoyed it because it was Hardy -- complicated relationships: convoluted and extensive, mixed up and tricky; and award-winning story telling. I gave him four stars, though A Laodicean will probably be my least favorite of the Hardys I have read. This is a good story for Hardy fans who adore his narratives about relationships and people and don't mind being bogged down in long-winded details about every day life. Be prepared for a longer than usual read. ( )
  GRLopez | Sep 24, 2021 |
I love the odd books that LIbriVox turns up. I really enjoy this reader and have been seeking out his books that are mostly English Victorians. This was an unknown to me Thomas Hardy, not typical of what I usually think of as Hardy but quote enjoyable. Mainly a love story with devious characters and side plots and deceptions and a rather totally unexepected ending.
  amyem58 | Jun 26, 2018 |
I don’t consider “A Laodicean” as a Hardy classic, but it does feature some quality scenes. In short, it’s entertaining in parts, but average on the whole. ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 3, 2018 |
I love Thomas Hardy. His writing is magnificent but this book was not up to par. He seemed too caught up in describing the pastoral scenery in this work. ( )
  DVDWalsh | Jan 18, 2016 |
I suspect that few of us in modern times, unless we are Bible scholars, will know the origin or the meaning of the title of this book. It refers to a passage from Revelation which is quoted by the pastor of the church that the heroine attends. Paula Power is the daughter of a railroad baron. Mr. Power was a Baptist and he had a church built in the countryside near Stancy Castle which he had recently purchased. Prior to the beginning of the book Mr. Power had died leaving Paula, his sole heir, a very wealthy young lady. George Somerset is a young architect who is travelling the country sketching old buildings prior to starting his actual work as an architect. He sees people gathering in the church and finds out that a baptism is to take place. It is Paula who is to be baptized but at the brink of the pool she refuses. This is what leads the pastor to quote the passage from Revelation. This passage is from a letter written to the church at Laodicea:
I know thy works, that thou are neither hot nor cold: I would thy wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Thus are two of the principal characters introduced to the reader. George is immediately smitten by Paula and he resolves to try to get to know her. He goes to the castle and asks to be allowed to view it. It is rather good fortune for him that Paula is looking for an architect to try to rebuild Stancy castle. At the same time another young man, Mr. Dare, asks for permission to photograph the castle. Dare manages to get taken on as Somerset's assistant to help with drawings and measurements. His motive for wanting to be involved only becomes clear later when a new army unit comes to town. By this time Dare has been dismissed by Somerset and he is helping the rival architect try to win the contract to rebuild the castle. One of the officers in the new unit is Captain de Stancy, son of the noble family that used to own Stancy Castle. It is this officer that Dare is interested in because he is Captain de Stancy's illegitimate son. Dare thinks that if de Stancy tries he can win Paula away from Somerset, take his rightful place in the family castle and have access to Paula's fortune. Since Dare is perpetually broke and has no desire to actually work this would put him on easy street.

Hardy classed this book as one of his 'Novels of Ingenuity' or 'Experiments'. The Hand of Ethelberta and Desperate Remedies, which I read as a library book, are also 'Novels of Ingenuity'. Ten years passed between Desperate Remedies and A Laodicean and I can see that Hardy progressed as a writer in that time. His characters are better developed and the plotting is tighter. Since Hardy actually wrote this book by dictating it to his wife while quite ill it is a testament to his craft that he was able to carry it off.

I didn't really like Paula. I think the pastor was right by saying she was neither hot nor cold. Her friend, Charlotte de Stancy, who was also in love with Somerset seemed to feel the appropriate emotions but Paula was always stopping Somerset from making love to her.

However, there's lots of interesting plots and details in this book and I found I raced through the last 100 pages as I had to know how it turned out. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Oct 23, 2012 |
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The sun blazed down and down, till it was within half-an-hour of its setting; but the sketcher still lingered at his occupation of measuring and copying the chevroned doorway, a bold and quaint example of a transitional style of architecture, which formed the tower entrance to an English village church.
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Having accepted the suit of Captain, Paula discovers that his illegitimate son has hatched a plot against Somerset, and so does not go through with the marriage. Instead she finally marries Somerset, but her castle home is burned to the ground, and she remains a Laodicean to the end.

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