Ross Poldark returns from fighting in America to native Cornwall to find the woman he loved engaged to his cousin. Trying to contain his anguish and anger, he gets on with transforming his family home and starting to build a life for himself again. With disdain for his cousins’ finery and a love for the common man he helps various people around him – including Demelza, a girl beaten by a gang of boys. His actions have consequences he could never have foreseen …
But you knew all that, right? Surely like me you have picked up enough information about the BBC version without even watching it to know that much? My readers stubbornness forced me to read the books first (read more here) but I am now embarking on the series, safe in the knowledge that I have read the book first. And the book? It was good. Not crazy or exciting or thrilling, but really good. It had the feel more of a real chronicle of someone’s life than of a story with beginning, middle, end, etc, but it did that really well!
There are twelve Poldark books in all. TWELVE. I can’t tell right now if the prospect excites me or fills me with dread, but it is certainly impressive. As far as I can tell, each focuses on a different character, telling their story through the times and changes of history.
And the most impressive and intriguing things about this book were certainly the characters. Each of them had ambitions, confusions, mistakes, weaknesses, strengths and a realness that was warming. I found myself really rooting for Ross, for Demelza, for Verity, and the others. The life they showed felt real, and Ross was a real hero but a real person at the same time.
And the landscape and place felt important too. I got a real sense of Cornwall in that time – and wished I’d read it when I went there on holiday last year. The setting of Ross’ house, and all that happened around it, became familiar and I had very vivid pictures and impressions in my mind.
But yes, it was occasionally a little dull. I found myself wondering if it was going anywhere, and in some ways, it wasn’t. It wasn’t building up to something, but following the life of a man. Which was quite refreshing, actually, when I stopped waiting for big dramas to occur.
I’ve downloaded book two, and just started watching the series on iPlayer (though I missed out on episode one – nooo!) – it looks like it’s done really well and I think I’m going to enjoy it. So, everyone, get reading it too!