Saturday, 14 January 2017

Crazy for Cornwall

The following is a guest blog post written by my mother, a self-confessed Poldark Tragic. She has quickly consumed the first four of the Poldark books with great enthusiasm. So I invited her to write about the books and why she enjoys them so much. 

Back in 1975 I watched with great delight the BBC television series Poldark, all 29 episodes, starring Robin Ellis in the lead role of Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as Demelza Carne. Robin Ellis was the pin up of the moment as the dashing Ross Poldark.

Too busy travelling, and with motherhood and family taking up much of my time, I never did get to read the books by Winston Graham that the series was based on. And overtime, I completely forgot all about them.

Fast-forward forty years to 2015 when BBC One aired the first series of a new Poldark drama.  Remembering how much I enjoyed the series in 1975 I could not wait to view this new adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels.

Playing the role of the protagonist is the charismatic and handsome heartthrob Aidan Turner along with charming Eleanor Tomlinson as the spirited Demelza Carne. Aidan Turner has drawn in the viewers helping BBC One record one of its highest ratings in a decade and he has certainly cast his spell over the female audience, myself included. As series two drew to a close towards the end of 2016 I found myself wondering how I would manage without Ross Poldark in my life until series three aired sometime in 2017.

I need not have worried. A very thoughtful gift was found under the Christmas tree – the first four books of Winston Graham’s wonderful novels, the saga set in the time period 1783 to 1820. In order they are Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark and Warleggan. Winston Graham wrote twelve Poldark novels in all, the first four were written between 1945 and 1953, the remainder from 1973 to 2002.

The books tell the story of Captain Ross Poldark who returns home to Cornwall from the American Revolutionary War to find his life greatly changed. His father has died during his absence, the girl he had hoped to marry was now engaged to marry his cousin and his beloved home, Nampara, was in a state of disrepair to say nothing of his financial situation with the failing of the copper mine that he inherited in his father’s estate. 

In essence he must begin afresh and the novels cover his struggles as he goes about building a family and home and improving his lot in life. Ross Poldark is a decent landlord who is on very good terms with his tenants and believes in fairness and kindness. He is a caring man, particularly towards the local mining community where he goes to bat for the poor and impoverished, at times regardless of how he may be adversely affected by the outcome.

Winston Graham’s Cornwall looms large in these books. Many years ago while living in England I was fortunate to visit Cornwall to see the picturesque smuggling coves dotted along the dramatic coastline, the rugged seashores and impressive cliffs, the beauty of the moorlands and the remains of the copper and tin mines. Graham’s mention of places such as Falmouth, Truro, and Bodmin bring back memories from long ago.

His descriptive writing style is easy to read and his characters breathe life into every page. Graham’s story lines keep me turning page after page and now that book four is finished I find I still have a few months to go before series three of the television series goes to air.

I do not usually read the book after I have seen the movie/television series but this case is different. The 2015 television series is very true to Winston Graham’s books and I look forward to ploughing my way through all twelve novels and of course watching the remaining television series.