Last winter, we watched the 1975 BBC Series “Poldark” on our streaming service. We were soon hooked on the story and I was thrilled to learn that the author, Winston Graham, had actually written a series of 12 novels. While I knew the basic story lines of the first four books from the show, there were many more descriptions and plot lines to keep my interest. I just finished the last book, “Bella,” and would like to share my thoughts.
The Good: The relationship between Ross and Demelza. I could never figure out what he saw in Elizabeth, his first love, but was quite surprised when he suddenly married his kitchen maid. Watching them love, grow, struggle, and grieve together was the strongest plot line in the books. The second book, “Demelza,” was probably my favorite of the series. Even secondary and minor characters were well developed. I particularly liked the empathy that Ross showed toward the lower classes. This often put him at odds with his own class but that did not deter him. After all, he married a miner’s daughter.
Marrying a partner outside their own social class became a recurring theme in the series. I doubt that these plot lines occurred frequently in real life but they made for great stories. Dr. Enys and Caroline were one of my favorite couples.
The Not So Good: Why, oh why, did so many names of families and estates begin with the letter T? I should have taken notes in book 1 to record who was who.
Some plot lines were overly long and I often wondered why they were included at all, other than adding local color. The books would have been long enough without them.
The ending of “Bella,” the last book in the series, left me wanting. I expected a conclusion and wished that the author had finished the series with “The Twisted Sword.”
The Great: The real star of the novels was Cornwall itself. I loved Winston Graham’s descriptions of nature. I could practically smell the salt of the sea in the air and hear the wind rattling at the shutters of Nampara.
The Poldark novels also provided a history lesson for me. I had not realized that England was at war for most of the period when the novels took place (and that was after the French and Indian War and the American Revolution). By putting his major characters right into the conflicts history became very real for me, especially in “The Twisted Sword.”
Image: Herbythyme (https://commons.wikimedia.org)