Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1) by Winston Graham

Ross Poldark

Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his family and his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers that his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth, having believed Ross dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross must start over, building a completely new path for his life, one that takes him in exciting and unexpected directions.

Thus begins an intricately plotted story spanning loves, lives, and generations. The Poldark series is the masterwork of Winston Graham, who evoked the period and people like only he could, and created a world of rich and poor, loss and love, that readers will not soon forget.

Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1) by Winston Graham
Published 1945
Format: paperback; 314 pages
Classics/Historical Fiction/Romance
Also By This Author: Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2)Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3), MarnieThe Walking Stick
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

Very rarely do I invest myself into epic family sagas. I usually lose interest or grow tired of the drama along the way. There have been exceptions, however (e.g. The Anne of Green Gables series), and Poldark has the potential to be one of them.

Needing a new period drama to watch now that Downton Abbey has finished, I stumbled upon BBC’s adaptation of Poldark and FELL IN LOVE! I hadn’t even watched half of the first episode before I was recommending the show to friends. In two days I binge watched all 8 episodes of season 1 (thanks, Amazon Prime!) and immediately picked up the first book from my local library and devoured it in a few days.

Ross Poldark begins with a war veteran returning home to discover that everyone believed him to be dead, his father has died and his inheritance is in near ruins, and the woman he loves is engaged to his cousin. Ross essentially has to start his life over from scratch, but with his determination, his wit, and through the help of two extraordinary women, his cousin, Verity, and his kitchen maid, Demelza, he beings to find hope and happiness again.

I love that this series begins with a protagonist who has already lost everything. It’s a welcomed change from the typical novel that starts off with everything going well for the main character for a chapter or two. I appreciated Winston Graham’s ability to skip over that unnecessary suspense and immerse the reader immediately into Ross Poldark’s despair. It makes the novel so much more intriguing.

It only took me a few chapters to fall in love with the characters. Ross is kind and compassionate, but like Heathcliff he has his demons that earn him sympathy from the reader. Verity is the selfless and loyal friend whom you can always depend upon, but she has her own heartbreaking past that she’s suffering from. Jud and Prudie offer some hilarious comic relief. And Demelza shows subtle courage in the face of adversity. She is the harbinger of hope and redemption for several of the other characters.

Read This Book If…

…you love investing yourself in long family sagas.
…you enjoy reading historical fiction that portrays the differences between different socioeconomic classes.
…you savor epic love stories.
…you’re a fan of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Game of Thrones, or Outlander. Poldark has similar themes, characters, and motifs.

Final Musings

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 I discovered Poldark by watching the current BBC television adaptation. Season 1 premiered last year and it covers the first two books in the series: Ross Poldark and Demelza. Here’s a trailer!!

They just finished filming Season 2, and it’s supposed to premiere in the fall in the UK…which means us Americans will have to wait nearly a year to see it! I’m going to break a rule I generally always follow. I’m going to watch Season 2 before I read ahead in the books. Normally I’m a huge advocator for “Read the book first,” but I want to keep the suspense of the show and I also know that, as a book purist, if an adaptation doesn’t stay true to the original story, I’m less likely to enjoy it UNLESS I watch it before I read the book.

But this means I can read the next book because Season 1 of the show already covered those events :)

Who else is excited for Season 2 of Poldark?!

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North and South: The Miniseries

northandsouthposterLast week I raved wrote about Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s North and South, a novel I started but never finished reading back in college and now all I can say to myself is, “WHY didn’t I read this book before?” I decided to read it this year for the Back to the Classics Challenge, mainly so I could re-watch the BBC miniseries starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Since I loved the book, I was excited about comparing the miniseries to the original text, and although there were some expected changes, overall I was very satisfied with this adaptation. I’ll try not to spoil the book or the miniseries while I highlight some of the biggest changes I saw in the adaptation.

Mr. Thornton is seen as much crueller in the miniseries

Unlike other Byronic heroes, I never disliked Mr. Thornton. Right from our first introduction to him in the book, I held a soft spot for him. The way we are introduced to Mr. Thornton in the miniseries is much more abrupt and it exaggerates Margaret’s view of him as a harsh and unfeeling master. The cotton factory scene is completely made up for the miniseries, and yes, it bothered me a little to see Mr. Thornton so violent, but I didn’t think it ruined the adaptation.

The ending

For the record, I love the ending from the miniseries. But the book ending made me cry happy tears that I haven’t cried since reading Jane Eyre (side note: this book reminded me so much of Jane Eyre). I would love to see an adaptation one day when they keep the original ending, but I have to say that I don’t think that ending would have suited this miniseries. The ending they created was beautiful and it fit this particular cast and direction beautifully.

Some of my favorite aspects of this adaptation were:

The music!

I can’t talk about this soundtrack enough. This particular track, “Northbound Train,” can literally bring tears to my eyes (believe me, it happened at work one day last week). I love music that makes you feel the same strength of emotions whether you’re watching the movie or not.

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The actors

Richard Armitage, in my opinion, was perfectly cast for the role of Mr. Thornton. I also loved Sinéad Cusack as Mrs. Thornton; she’s another character I held a soft-spot for despite her harsh characteristics.

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I could probably talk about this novel and the miniseries forever, but instead I’ll just let you enjoy it for yourself :) It’s on Netflix if you’re in the mood for a Victorian romdram.