“If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port, the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” — Poldarkian.com
In celebration, July 6th through August 3rd, The Ross Poldark Blog Tour will visit thirty popular book blogs specializing in historical, romance and Austenesque fiction. Featuring spotlights, previews, excerpts and book reviews of these two acclaimed historical fiction novels, the tour will also offer readers a chance at a fabulous giveaway contest including copies of the books and a stunning Anglophile-themed prize package (details below).
In the first novel in Winston Graham’s hit series, a weary Ross Poldark returns to England from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth—believing Ross to be dead—is now engaged to his cousin. Ross has no choice but to start his life anew.
Thus begins the Poldark series, a heartwarming, gripping saga set in the windswept landscape of Cornwall. With an unforgettable cast of characters that spans loves, lives, and generations, this extraordinary masterwork from Winston Graham is a story you will never forget.
In the enchanting second novel in Winston Graham’s beloved Poldark series, Demelza Carne, an impoverished miner’s daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground brawl, now happily finds herself his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage and their love. As Ross launches into a bitter struggle for the right of the mining communities, Demelza’s efforts to adapt to the ways of the gentry (and her husband) place her in increasingly odd and embarrassing situations. When tragedy strikes and sows the seeds of an enduring rivalry between Ross and the powerful George Warleggan, will Demelza manage to bridge their differences before they destroy her and her husband’s chance at happiness?
Against the stunning backdrop of eighteenth century Cornwall, Demelza sweeps readers into one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Have you read all your Jane Austen novels, including the juvenilia, several times? Read all your Brontes? Are you running out of Georgette Heyer novels? Specifically, did you like the historical sweep of An Infamous Army? Hankering for a bit of Dickensian social justice? But are you a bit hesitant to jump into a long, more military historical series like Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series or CS Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower?
Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga is a happy medium, then. The vivid, snapping characterizations and dialogue of an Austen, the emotional reach of a Bronte, the historical accuracy of a Heyer, the crusading reform of a Dickens, and the long-ranging sweep of time like O’Brian and Forrester. Graham Winston brings late-Georgian Cornwall to life with the tale of Ross Poldark’s homecoming, his disappointment, and his struggle to remain on the land that is his birthright and do right by his family, tenants, and laborers in the first book of the saga, Ross Poldark. It is a novel of class differences, family loyalty, and betrayal. It is a novel of a changing England as it moves into the Industrial age. In this way, the Poldark novels, much as they are set in an England that had just lost it’s American colonies, reflect both our society as it was in post-World War II Britain and look forward to our own time. Our changing economies, the struggles of the lower social class against an upper class who look down and blame the poor, the struggle for a woman to have her own life and autonomy, and the struggle for appropriate justice.
Set against this backdrop is a romance for the ages and it is delicious. Ross is appropriately broody and conflicted, Elizabeth is appropriately spoiled and needy, Francis is appropriately bratty, and Demelza is appropriately sassy and courageous. Demelza picks up where Ross Poldark ends and so on through twelve novels ending in post-Napoleonic War England and France – we can only hope that Sourcebooks Landmark will keep putting out gorgeous new paperbacks that long.
The BBC has adapted the first two Poldark novels into a new miniseries. As usual for any historical production with the BBC (though the original production company was purchased by ITV, so we’ll see for Series 2), the production values are stellar and the cast is excellent. First and foremost, the countryside of Cornwall is breathtaking with sweeping shots of the cliffs and sea. Aiden Turner (the dwarf half of the shoehorned-in dwarf-elf romance in the Hobbit movies) is wonderful as the driven, conflicted, rash – and occasionally delightfully shirtless – Ross. Ruby Bentall, whom I loved as Mary Bennet in Lost in Austen, plays Verity to the hilt and I like her almost better here than in the book. Kyle Soller, as the gutless wonder Francis, looks exactly right in a frock coat and breeches losing his family inheritance. Old BBC regulars like Phil Davis and Richard Harrington (Bleak House) appear. The only casting choice I thought questionable was Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza. In the books, Demelza is a scrawny fourteen and introduced while dressed as a boy. For the adaptation, Demelza’s age has been bumped up to fit a more compressed timeline, so it does line more with Tomlinson’s real age, but she doesn’t quite find her way into Demelza’s awkward, all-elbows roughness (having last seen her as a luminous Georgiana Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley the role is a bit of a stretch, gorgeous red hair dye aside). She gets it right about episode three but I think they should have double cast the role with a young teen actress for the first few scenes.
The two-hour season finale airs tonight, August 2, on your local PBS station – check your local schedule.