Category Archives: Poldark

I Love My Red Hair

When you’re a kid, you want to fit in. The last thing you want is to stick out like a sore thumb. When you’re a redhead, you stick out whether you like it or not.

Though I am proud of my red hair now, there were many times as a kid that I wished that my hair was another color. It took many years and a lot of work, but at nearly 40, I have come to love my hair.

Today is National Redhead Day. Thanks to this day, How to be a Redhead and three of the characters below (which is a short version of a very long list), I appreciate my hair in ways that I did not in the past.

Zelena-Once Upon a Time (Rebecca Mader)

Zelena is a redheaded badass because she knows what she wants and she goes after it. Though she may not (at least in the beginning) care that she is hurting others, it is her confidence and her one-liners that makes me proud to be a redhead.

MeraAquaman (Amber Heard)

Mera is a queen in every sense of the word. But instead of being the standard female royal who waits for things to happen (i.e. rescued from the big bad), Mera takes charge of her own life. She is also unafraid to stand up for what is right, even if that means going into battle.

Demelza PoldarkPoldark (Eleanor Tomlinson)

It takes a strong woman to be true to herself in an era when a woman is supposed to be meek, mild and subservient to her husband. Demelza Poldark (nee Carne) may have been born a miner’s daughter, but she has not forgotten who she is. Though she is a member of the upper class through her marriage, Demelza is still a tough as nails working-class girl who is intelligent and more than capable of standing on her own two feet.

I am going to end this post with a quote for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It’s time to not care what others think and embrace who we are.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss

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Poldark Series 4 Episode 1 Review

*Warning: this review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

For the last three years, Poldark has brought romance, drama, politics and a shirtless Aidan Turner to millions of fans.

Last night, the fourth series premiered on PBS.

The series picks up shortly after the third series ended. Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza’s  (Eleanor Tomlinson) marriage is back on track. But Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) is still in love with Demelza, despite her gently turning him down.  While this is happening, there is turmoil in Cornwall. The rich get richer while the poor are starving and dying.  George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) still covets power and taking Ross down. But unlike last season, despite his misgivings, Ross knows that he must step up to protect the people of Cornwall from the greedy and power-hungry.

I really liked the episode. It felt like a natural continuation of the previous series. I also very much liked the potential narratives that the premiere introduced for the coming season.

I recommend it.

Poldark airs on PBS on Sundays at 9pm. 

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Poldark Review

Warning. This review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk if you did not watch last night’s episode of Poldark.

The thrill and the danger of a beloved television show returning for a new season is that it must equally expand both character and narrative while keeping the same elements that hooked the audience during the previous season or seasons.

Last night, the third series of Poldark premiered on PBS.

The third series picks up a few months after the second series. Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) marriage is both happy and stable. While all seems well in Nampara, the opposite can be said at Trenwith. Elizabeth Warleggan (Heida Reed) is pregnant and near her due date, but she is unsure if the child’s father is Ross or her husband, George (Jack Farthing). As per the previous seasons, there continues to be no love lost between Ross and George.

Meanwhile, there are new characters. Elizabeth’s son by her first husband, Geoffrey Charles (Harry Marcus) is becoming a young man who is feeling stifled under the control of his mother and stepfather. Morwenna Chynoweth, one of Elizabeth’s cousins (Ellise Chappell) is brought in as Geoffrey’s governess. When Demelza’s younger brothers Sam (Tom York) and Drake (Harry Richardson) join Ross and Demelza at Nampara, they bring trouble and a bit of excitement to their sister’s house.

I have not read beyond the 4th book, (which coincides with the ending of the last series), but I have a feeling that this will be a good season. It has the drama, the romance and roller coaster ride the fanbase is eagerly looking forward to.

I recommend it.

Poldark airs on PBS at 9PM on Sundays.

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The World of Poldark Book Review

In 2015, a new television series premiered. Poldark was the reboot of the phenomenon that was the 1970’s series based on the books by Winston Graham.

The reboot in turn has become its own phenomenon. In the wake of the reboot’s success, The World Of Poldark was published. Written by Emma Marriott, the book contains pictures, interviews, research materials from the 1780’s that the production team used and a look behind the scenes,the book gives the viewer an inside look into the making of the series.

This book is a wonderful addition to any fan’s library. It contains everything that a fan would want in a backstage pass to the making of Poldark.

I recommend it.

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Poldark Character Review: Dr. Dwight Enys

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza, Ross’s cousin, Francis, Francis’s wife, Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s second husband, George Warleggan and Ross’s cousin, Verity Blamey. Today’s post will focus on Ross’s best friend, Dr. Dwight Enys.

In any good story, the hero or heroine needs another character to create an emotional balance.  It could be a romantic partner or it could be a close friend. In the world of Poldark, the character of Dr. Dwight Enys creates that balance. Dwight is the Oscar to Ross’s Felix. A doctor by profession, he could have easily chosen to practice among the well heeled ton of London or Bath. Instead he chose to live and work in Cornwall, an area where the majority of the residents are far from wealthy. Where Ross is temperamental and impulsive,  Dwight is practical and level headed. A generous soul, Dwight is known to treat patients for free who unable to pay. But no one is perfect, not even Dwight.

His affair with a miners wife that ended tragically  in both book 2 and series 1 allowed the specter of guilt and doubt to enter his life. That guilt and doubt plagued him until he met Caroline Penvenen, the heiress who he would later marry. Torn between his job and his heart in book 4 and series 2, Dwight nearly walks away from Caroline.

 

The thing that strikes me about Dwight is that in a universe where characters are temperamental, emotional and dramatic, Dwight is the opposite. He creates a balance that allows the characters on the other side of the emotional spectrum to be out there emotionally while he remains calm and collected.

To sum it up: There has to be a balance on the emotional spectrum when it comes to characters. For every Marianne Dashwood, there has to be an Elinor Dashwood. While one character rages on and explodes, the other is sitting there quietly, responding with a cool and level head. In the world of Poldark, Ross is Marianne and Dwight is Elinor. Without that contrast, the reader may find the characters to be monotone, predictable and the book unreadable. The worst thing a writer wants to hear is the p word. It has sounded the death knell for the many books that have been returned to the library or the bookstore unfinished and un-liked.

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Poldark Character Review: Verity Blamey

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza, Ross’s cousin, Francis, Francis’s wife, Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s second husband, George Warleggan. Today’s post will focus on Ross’s cousin, Verity Blamey (nee Poldark).

Three of the standard character tropes for women are the love interest, the ex-girlfriend and the girl next door. In the world of Poldark, Demelza is the love interest, Elizabeth is the ex-girlfriend and Verity is the girl next door. Winston Graham’s answer to Anne Elliot from Persuasion, Verity is Francis’s sister. Unmarried and dangerously near the age of spinsterhood, she is the put upon daughter that is seen, but unappreciated by both her father and brother.

Like Anne Elliot, Verity’s choice of a husband is not exactly what the family had in mind for her. Captain Andrew Blamey is a Navy Captain who is whispered to have ill-treated his  wife. A widower with growing children, Captain Blamey and Verity are mutually attracted to one another, but her family’s objections to him will force her to choose between the man she loves and the family she was born into.

In creating a character like Verity, Winston Graham created a universal character. There are so many who feel like Verity. They are the ones that are not spectacularly handsome or beautiful, but they keep hoping to find a partner. They are the ones that stay within the familiar circle of family and friends out of loyalty and respect, even if they are unhappy.  When they do find happiness, they take that bold step, even if it means moving out of the comfortable circle of home and family.

Out of all of the characters within the Poldark universe, Verity is my favorite. She followed her heart, knowing full well that she would be estranged from most of her family. She is brave and bold and even if she is not as physically beautiful as Elizabeth or Demelza, her bravery stands out and makes her beautiful.

To sum it up: While Verity might not be the most obvious choice to be a heroine, Winston Graham clearly created a heroine. When one is bold enough to follow their heart and their gut, despite the objections of well-meaning family and friends, they become a heroine who can be admired and appreciated long after the writer has finished telling their story.

 

 

 

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Poldark Character Review: George Warleggan

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza, Ross’s cousin, Francis and Francis’s wife, Elizabeth. In this post, I will be writing about Poldark’s resident villain, George Warleggan. 

Any good hero needs a villain. Without that villain and the challenge that the villain presents to the hero, the hero is denied the chance to face up to that challenge.

George Warleggan represents both the standard villain and the overall change that was starting to affect England in the late 18th century. At that time, the middle class was rising and opportunities for societal and financial growth were ripe for the taking, if one was bold enough. The grandson of a blacksmith,  George has risen well above his familial roots to run the local bank.While he is well dressed and speaks like a gentleman, the George that is presented in polite society is not the George who takes off the mask in private.

He is not above breaking the moral code or using his financial assets to bribe someone to reach his goals, whether those goals would be to knock Ross down or marry Elizabeth.

No one person is wholly good or wholly bad. We all have the tendencies already inside of us to be good and bad. It is what we do with them that defines our character and the path we take in life. One could say that due to the very rigid class structure in England at the time, the reader and the audience understands George, especially from an American perspective. In that world at that time, the super wealthy and the aristocrats ruled England. While there was some acceptance of these self-made men who inherited neither titles, exorbitant fortunes or large tracts of property from their forebears, there was still a barrier to overall acceptance. George Warleggan is new money and new money is not  quite as welcome as old money. At the end of the day, George is fighting for that acceptance. This is the crux of George Warleggan.

To sum it up: Every hero needs a villain and visa versa. But to keep the audience and the reader interested, the villain needs to be interesting. Instead of creating the early regency version of Snidley Whiplash, Winston Graham created a multi faceted villain whose actions, while not entirely honorable or ethical, keep both the hero and the audience on their feet.

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Poldark Character Review: Elizabeth Poldark

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza and Ross’s cousin, Francis. In this post, I will be examining Elizabeth Warleggan (nee Chynoweth), Ross’s first love who first marries his cousin Francis and then after Francis’s death, marries George Warleggan.

We are told that Elizabeth is born to be admired. The daughter of the upper classes, Elizabeth is very much a woman of her age. From birth, she knows what her path in life will be. At the age when she is old enough to be married, she will marry a man whose status and income is appropriate. She will bring children into the world (i.e. sons) and spend the rest of her days in the lap of luxury.

But life, as we all know, is never that simple. While she is dutiful wife to Francis and a good mother to their son, Elizabeth still carries the torch for Ross. In series 2 and books 3 and 4, the flame of Ross and Elizabeth’s former relationship flicks back to life after appearing to be dormant. It grows stronger after Francis’s death. Relying on on Ross for both emotional support and financial support, their bond becomes too close for comfort for Demelza.

Knowing that she needs to marry, if only to provide a comfortable home for her son, Elizabeth agrees to marry George Warleggan. Upon hearing the news, Ross makes a beeline for Elizabeth, nearly destroying his own marriage in the process. In the end, Elizabeth does what she believes is the right thing by marrying George. But is it?

Elizabeth is very much a woman of her era and her class. On one hand, looking back at the period and how women were viewed, her journey and the choices she makes along the way feel appropriate. But, if we look at her from a modern perspective, it’s not hard to see a woman who is making choices that a modern woman today might not have to make.

To sum it up: Characters like Elizabeth are meant to make us think. A good book makes the reader think. Whether it is about the choices we make because of the world we live in or because of the opportunities that was not available to previous generations, we all have choices. It’s what we do with those choices that has the final say on how we will end up living our lives.

 

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Poldark Character Review: Francis Poldark

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous two posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark and his wife, Demelza. This post will be focusing on Francis Poldark, Ross’s cousin.

Francis and Ross grew up as brothers. In England at that time, the law of primogeniture ruled. Primogeniture basically means that the first-born son inherits the lion-share of the family assets. Francis is the first-born son of the first born son. He is born into a life of privilege and wealth. But money does not always buy happiness.

At the beginning of the series, we meet Francis when both the audience and Ross learn that he is engaged to Ross’s first love, Elizabeth (to be discussed next week). With Ross home, Francis begins to question if Elizabeth still wants to go on with marriage.  Even after they Francis and Elizabeth marry and bring their son into the world, he is still consumed by jealousy and low self-esteem. He becomes good friends with George Warleggan even though he is aware of the bad blood between George and Ross.

By the time we reach book 4 and series 2, Francis has become a new man. His relationship with Ross has mended, his marriage is flourishing, he has broken with George and he has developed a healthy self-esteem.

Then he is killed in mining accident.

Some people are not meant to live to see old age. Some people unfortunately, find themselves and then die before they can truly live. These are the characters that truly break the reader’s heart and remind them of the fragility of life.

To sum it up: Francis is the type of character that unfortunately meets a tragic and unexpected ending. He grapples with so many issues for so long and when he finally decides to be happy and grab life by the balls, he is gone.  Francis’s death not only breaks the heart of the characters and the readers, but also forces the fate of those around him into unforeseen territory.

When a writer creates a character like Francis, they are challenging the audience. They are challenging the audience to not only appreciate life, but to also look at the character as a whole, not just his or her problems.

 

 

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Poldark Character Review: Demelza Poldark

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Last week I wrote about the titular hero, Ross Poldark. This week I will be focusing on Ross’s wife, Demelza Poldark (nee Carne).

Demelza, unlike her husband, was not born with the privileges of the upper class. The daughter of a widower miner whose parenting abilities were limited, Demelza was forced to learned, strength, resilience and independence early on.  Both Ross and the audience meet Demelza early in book 1 and series 1 when he mistakes her for a boy, saving her and her dog from an angry mob. Offering Demelza a job as his scullery maid, their relationship starts off as the normal master and servant relationship for the era.

Then things take a pleasant, if predictable turn.

 

In creating Demelza, Winston Graham not only updated the romantic heroine, but also updated the Cinderella story of the class divide between the wealthy landowner and his maid. He also smartly created a foil to Ross’s first love and cousin by marriage, Elizabeth (who will be discussed at a later date). Though she is a woman of her time, Demelza is not a fragile damsel in distress who is in need of rescue. Earthy, strong and resilient, Demelza is what Ross needs in a wife.

When Ross’s previously dormant feelings for Elizabeth come back to the surface after Francis dies in book four and series 2, Demelza must contend with jealousy and her fears that she is loosing her husband.

To sum it up: Demelza is very much a heroine and a woman of the 18th century. But by virtue of being a strong, capable woman who is dealing with the problems that women have faced with for centuries, she feels like a woman of the 21st century.

When a writer is creating a period piece, he or she is straddling a fine line. On one hand, the character must feel like they are a part of the world and the era they live in. But, at the same time, if modern audiences cannot relate to this character, they are likely to walk away from the book. It’s not easy to create a character who straddles both worlds successfully, but Winston Graham certainly has.

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