Afternoon of  an Autocrat
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Afternoon of an Autocrat

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Sir Charles Augustus Shelmadine was an autocrat. He ruled his village with a firm but kindly hand--instructing his tenants on their crops, their children and their love affairs. And when he died and the new Squire came, the village stirred uneasily. For the new Squire had strange ideas-and even stranger friends-friends like Mr. Mundford who never seemed to grow any older a...more
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 12th 1985 by Fawcett (first published 1956)
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1st out of 21 books — 10 voters
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7th out of 46 books — 29 voters

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Nov 01, 2012 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Supernatural fiction fans, and historical fiction fans
Recommended to Werner by: My Goodreads friend Alice
Note (Oct. 26, 2012): I edited this review to correct a factual error in the first draft as to what the original title of the book was.

20th-century British novelist Lofts was primarily a masterful author of historical fiction, but she also had a definite fascination for things uncanny and supernatural. Usually, if this strain appears in her books, it's just as a low-key, leavening hint here and there of the possibly paranormal in what's clearly 99.999% a work of descriptive fiction. But occasion...more
Florence Penrice
Norah Lofts was a great story teller, and this is one of her best books. The background is Enclosure, how it worked and the effect it had on rural communities and, if that makes it sound dull, it isn't, as she had the gift of inventing characters and situations that just keep you turning the pages. I know of no other historical novelist (though I would be pleased to hear of them) who could write so well about the history of ordinary people.

No writer of historical fiction can claim to understand...more
The original title , the one Norah Lofts gave it, is "The Devil in Clevely" and it is to my mind, a far better one. The first section dealing with the death of Sir Charles which sets the whole in motion, is indeed the literal death of an autocrat, as well as the symbolic ending of an old era. But his death is only a beginning.
The other alternative title, "The Deadly Gift", is equally partial in it's application, referring to the unearthly qualities discovered in the heroine. For this is not jus...more
Deb Atwood
I read this novel as part of a discussion led by Werner at the Goodreads Supernatural Group.

I find it’s interesting to read books by novelists who reach back in time to write about a former era. Hey, what can I say? I did it myself with Moonlight Dancer.

I think of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a 19th century writer who focused on 17th century New England in The Scarlet Letter. I think of John Harwood reaching from the 21st century back to 19th century with his gothic novel The Séance. In a previous post...more

The Story

More a sweeping fresco of English rural life at the end of the 18th century than a densely plotted novel, `Afternoon' tells the story of the inhabitants of Clevely, a small English village, as it is transitioning from the open-field to the enclosure system of farming. We meet a large variety of characters, beginning with the hidebound, enclosure-resisting old baronet, Sir Charles Shelmadine, and moving down the social scale through various local country dwellers to the poor landless co...more
Jan 04, 2012 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys horror
Recommended to Mary by: Paperback Swap
An enthralling novel of strange love and demonic evil. An old squire dies suddenly and his son takes over as the new squire after being abroad for years with his wife. He meets the people of his new home and becomes involved in the black arts and makes the acquaintance of a strange young woman and an evil older man. I enjoyed this book however it's a little involved in the plot. I give it an A+!
One of my very favorites. Late 18th century. I learned about the cult of Mithras. Also a supernatural element that Lofts likes to play with.
I just finished reading "Norah Lofts - Afternoon of an Autocrat". I feel like I have been bamboozled into reading it after reading descriptions of it as a great horror story.

It is nothing of the kind. It is a Gothic/historical romance with a few supernatural trappings. There is probably 3-4 pages total of supernatural descriptions in a total of 327 pages, and the big sacrifice scene in the subterranean temple was a damp squib.

Avoid like 20 tons of enclosed horse shit.Afternoon of an Autocrat
 ~☆ Alice♥♥
I never realized before that this is just a romance novel in disguise. I only saw Damask not Linda and hadstock or whatever his name is. I am so disappointed now.
An interesting plot, ruined by an odd pace and an unsatifsying end.
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Also published using the pseudonyms Juliet Astley and Peter Curtis

Norah Lofts, née Norah Robinson, (27 August 1904–10 September 1983) was a 20th century best-selling British author. She wrote over fifty books specialising in historical fiction, but she also wrote non-fiction and short stories. Many of her novels, including her Suffolk Trilogy, follow the history of a specific house and the residen...more
More about Norah Lofts...
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“They set off through the soft lingering light. One cuckoo in the depths of Layer Wood and one in the dense shrubbery of the Dower House were keeping up their eternal question and answer, and in the comparative coolness which had come with the evening all the scents of summer had magnified.” 3 likes
“Suddenly Damask found herself staring down at the flowers through a dazzle of tears. The words sounded so innocent and so disarming - she remembered that she hadn't wanted to come through the beautiful woods at all; and there was no danger, nothing wrong except the wickedness of her own heart. She looked at Danny's big, brown, work-scarred hands gently gathering the flowers and her love for him was a physical pain. Oh, how she loved him; how she wished that he would ask her to marry him!"

Norah Lofts”
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