Thursday, 11 June 2015

Book Review: Poldark by Winston Graham

Read: June 6 - 8   Verdict: 4 stars

I'm not going to lie. Before reading this book, I had already watched the first series of the BBC take on the books. The TV program is the reason I picked up the books in the first place, I had never even heard of them but they are very much my cup of tea.

Ross Poldark is the first in the Poldark series and focuses on the return of Ross Poldark to his Cornish birthplace. Poldark has been away for several years, fighting for the British army in America - he is changed from the way he was before and carries scars from his battles. However, not all is as he left it at home in his mining community, his father is dead, leaving his small estate and mine in Ross's hands and , even worse, Ross's first love Elizabeth is engages to his cousin and best friend Francis Poldark.

Now Ross is faced with building back up his inheritance on his won, with the help of his two old and lazy employees. However, a little light comes into Ross's life when he rescues a young girl from a pack of street boys. Her name is Demelza and without knowing it, she will change Ross's life.


I really loved this book. All the characters are exactly what you want them to be. Dark and brooding Ross with his kind eyes (as said by Demelza) and his generous spirit, Francis - handsome and privileged yet racked with jealousy and weakness. Elizabeth - beautiful yet cool. Often seems to want what she can't have and Verity, the poor dull sister who is trapped by family and obligations and faces a future of spinsterhood.

The book was easy to read and get through, despite being of the older persuasion, and may I say, a classic. It wasn't terribly hard too understand, and though I certainly can't say that I'm an expert in mining, I think I did alright (though, this may be due to watching the series).

I really really didn't like the character of Elizabeth. She is portrayed as quite a delicate flower yet can be strong when needed to. However, she was rather cold and cruel towards Ross - despite her being the one to jilt him for his cousin - yet still manages to make everything about herself. She has a special way of making you feel sorry for her and hating her all at the same time.

While Elizabeth is on one end of the spectrum, Demelza is definitely on the other. While she is only thirteen when she is first rescued by Ross, her spirit grows away from the threatening blows of her father and she becomes cheeky and willful - in a way that you can never be angry at her for breaking rules. While in today's society, the relationship between Demelza and Ross could be eyed with something like disgust, due to the fact she's 10 years younger and first came to live with him when she's 13, there's something undeniably sweet about it and it makes it work. Ross needed someone like Demelza - someone full of lightness and joy in simple things, and the occasional exclamations of "Judas!"

This book, like many, touches upon things that every generation, young or old, experience - from poverty, homelessness, unemployment and despair. Losing love, finding love and then also being denied love. Exceeding expectations and stepping away from unfair obligations. Overcoming fear and embracing change. And the hope that there's something bright around the corner.

I'm really looking forward to the next book,which I believe focuses on Demelza. It will be interesting to see things from her POV as she tries to touch her toes into the waters of Cornwall's high society and try and forget about her humble beginnings.

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