Subtitled ‘A Story of To-day’, A Laodicean occupies a unique place in the Thomas Hardy canon. Departing from pre-industrial Wessex, Hardy brings his themes of social constraint, fate, chance and miscommunication to the very modern world of the 1880s – complete with falsified telegraphs, fake photographs, and perilous train tracks. The story follows the life of Paula Power, heiress of her late father’s railroad fortune and the new owner of the medieval Castle Stancy. With the castle in need of restoration, Paula employs architect George Somerset, who soon falls in love with her. However, Paula’s dreams of nobility draw her to another suitor, Captain de Stancy, who is aided by his villainous son, William Dare.