Monday, May 15, 2017

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga)

Aidan Turner notwithstanding, I've never read the book.

Somewhere on Netflix or Amazon Prime I stumbled onto the Poldark series. I was caught by the look of Aidan Turner but kept by the surprisingly engaging, unexpectedly beautiful, and continuously intriguing story. 

Written by Winston Graham in the 1940s and 1950s, the first book of Poldark series, entitled Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga), has the flavor and feel of Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, or Elizabeth Gaskell. Set in the 1780s and 1790s, the series follows war-weary Ross Poldark as he returns from fighting in the Colonies, a war that the English lost. What interesting reversal of paradigm, reading an English novel set in that miserable time period. Wars were being lost, land was losing value, the mines in the area of Cornwall were not producing, food and living was extremely costly, and people were living scrub existences. What an odd time to set a romance novel/drama.

Yet, Ross Poldark does return to his family's land, finding decrepitude and gin-swilling servants, and begins to rebuild and renew his life. Not only does Ross deal with his own physical struggles and the struggles of managing the estate, he immediately discovers that the woman he has loved for these many years is set to marry his cousin.

And now we are set for the first book.

Aidan Turner
I am nearing the middle of the first book and I've discovered that the book is worthy of blogging about. For not only is Ross Poldark a worthy character, he and his fellow characters are all drawn so humanly, so heart warmingly, I am undone. And I am undone completely without the need to imagine Ross Poldark as played by Aidan Turner...and that is saying something. 

Now that I'm half way in, I am finding the writing engaging as hell and if Cornwall is even half as beautiful as Winston Graham writes it, I want to see it. For Cornwall itself is a character in this book. Cornwall's environs and its peoples of the 1780s are sharply and finely drawn; in their misery and celebration, they are by turn hilarious, petty, unworthy, worthy, filthy, lice-ridden, pompous, loyal, disloyal, unlearned, noble... Normal and regular folk.

It remains to be seen if I will read beyond this first book into the series. So far I have highlighted several passages that either use language that has moved me or has cracked me up. I'll let you know more when I've finished the book. Back in a day or two...

Also, now I know where Penzance is.  LOL