Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
This year will be remembered as the year of Poldark. Whether you’re a fan of the TV series or books there was no escaping it (well, there was certainly no escape if you lived in Cornwall). In gift shops up and down the county there was everything from Poldark mugs to postcards and tea towels. Some scenes in the TV series are shot in a little harbour village called Charlestown which is ten minutes away from where I live. When they were filming for the second series it even made front page news in the local paper!
Even people at work were obsessed with it. The majority of this year’s Secret Santa presents consisted of calendars and mugs with Aidan Turner half naked. Not that I’m complaining.
I enjoyed the TV series and my mother had previously read some of the books however I didn’t think I would be too keen on reading them. Fast forward six months later and here I am having just finished the first Poldark novel aptly and rather originally titled Ross Poldark.
Ross Poldark returns from war to find that his father has died and the girl he had hoped to marry, Elizabeth, is engaged to his cousin Francis. His former home is derelict and in need of repair and the miners and farmers of the district are struggling to make ends meet as work dries up. However Ross tries to make the best of a bad situation by sprucing up his house and throwing him himself into helping others, including trying to stop his friend Jim Carter from going to prison.
Ross attends a fair one day in Redruth and sees a poor urchin child fighting with boys. Disgusted with the spectacle he is witnessing he rescues the poor child and discovers it is a young girl dressed in rags and covered in bruises. Although he comes across often as hard and solemn, Ross does have a caring side and takes the girl called Demelza back home. He employs her as a maid in his house much to her father’s disgust and resistance. Demelza suffered a terrible home life where she was often starved and beaten.
As time goes on and with Ross’s care she flourishes into a wonderful young woman. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Ross as they begin a romantic relationship and later marry, much to the shock of the county. But there is always the cloud of Elizabeth over their relationship – Ross thinking what may have been and Demelza worrying she is second best. Which initially she is however as the novel progresses Ross really does fall in love with Demelza.
Running parallel to the main narrative is Verity, Ross’s cousin, and her desire to be with captain Blamey. Against her wishes her brother, Francis forbids her to see him as there are rumours that he killed his wife. As the novel progresses Demelza and Verity strike up a close friendship and the books ends with Demelza persuading Ross to let the two lovers meet in secret.
At the end of the novel Delmelza is presented to Ross’s family who are of the gentry at a Christmas meal. She is a roaring success but trouble can only be around the corner…
Belated Christmas picture.