Ross Poldark is alive. After having fought in the American Civil War, Ross returns to Cornwall where he discovers his father has died, his estate is neglected by lazy servants and his sweetheart Elizabeth has married his cousin Francis. Not really the warm welcome he had expected. Slowly he tries to rebuild his life. He reopens an old mine and saves a young girl from a dog fight to make her his kitchen maid. Meanwhile, his cousin Verity has fallen in love with captain Blamey, much against the wishes of her family.
I must admit I discovered Winston Graham’s books thanks to the excellent Poldark series on BBC with Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson. I was quite addicted to the series and have watched the five seasons more than once. Leaving behind a gap in my heart when the series stopped, I decided to start the book series. The last four books haven’t been screened and I’m curious how the story of Ross and Demelza will end.
The first book represents the first four episodes of season one. So I knew it would be a slow story and it is. The book is written in 1945 so the ‘older’ writing style makes for no easy read. Especially not since some characters are speaking a kind of Cornish dialect. I was already accustomed to the typical language of Jud & Prudie which made me comprehend the story, but I’m not so sure it will be effortless for newcomers to the story.
This book is full of adventure, humor and romance. Ross is the typical anti-hero. He makes a lot of mistakes and bad decisions but it makes him human and real. I was surprised by how young Demelza is in the first book, her character still needs to develop a bit more to the strong women I know.
But what I like most about the story is that you get an insight in mining and the contrast between the noble ruling class and the poor workers. We’re in the 18th century, so revolution is coming to Europe. There’s also a third class on the rise: new men such as George Warleggan who have become rich by trade and banking but aren’t from noble birth. They struggle at being accepted by the old families. It’s such a great historical setting to start off a series.
I’ll probably continue reading this series and enjoy the storylines, although the first book didn’t make me immediately jump onto the next.