Tag Archives: Poldark

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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Poldark Character Review: Ross 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.

Let’s start with the titular hero: Ross Poldark.

Ross is the son of an ancient family in Cornwall, England. At the beginning of the first book and the miniseries, Ross is fighting for the British during the American revolution. In love with Elizabeth, their relationship seems like it is on the fast track toward marriage. Then Ross is injured while fighting for King and country. He comes home to find Elizabeth engaged to his cousin, Francis, his father is dead and the mine that his income is derived from is in shambles.

On one hand, Ross is very much a member of the upper class. He knows what is expected of him and knows how to act. But Ross is hot headed and stubborn. While he can be honorable and does what is right (even if it goes against the law, i.e. the beginning of book 3 and Series 2), he can also act very stupidly. In Book 4 and series 2, Francis dies in a mine accident. The previously dormant feelings Ross had for Elizabeth flicker back to life, nearly breaking up his marriage to Demelza and forcing him to do the unthinkable to Elizabeth when he learns that she is to marry George Warleggan.

To sum it up: Ross Poldark feels alive to the reader because this character is full of contradictions. Though he is a part of the upper class, he appreciates, respects and stands up for the people who do not have his advantages. He can be a bit foolish and headstrong,  but he tries to do what is right.

As writers, we have to approach our characters from not just one or two traits, but a mixture of good and bad. Ross is honorable and tries to do what is right, but sometimes falls victim to impetuousness. No one is wholly good or wholly evil. Winston Graham created a hero who feels alive and real because he is human and therefore imperfect.

This is the first post of what I hope will be a weekly series. Any suggestions to improve this series of posts are greatly appreciated, feel free to leave comments in the comments box below.  

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Warleggan Book Review

Sequels, whether on stage, on-screen or on the page, are like walking a fine line. The sequel must remain true to the original text while moving the narrative and the characters forward.

Some sequels are better than others.

The 4th book in the Poldark series, Warleggan, takes place a year after the birth of Ross and Demelza’s son Jeremy. Life has returned to normal for Mr. and Mrs. Poldark of Nampara. Or so they think.

First there is the risk of a highly speculative mining venture that could ruin Ross and Demelza financially. This leads an emotional fissure in their marriage. Then Ross re-ignites what was thought to be the dormant feeling for his ex/cousin by marriage, Elizabeth. Feeling emotionally left behind by her husband, Demelza begins a flirtation with Captain MacNeil, a handsome Scottish cavalry officer.  Will Ross and Demelza find their center and each other once more or are they doomed to live separate lives?

I was excited by this book, I wanted to see how Winston Graham could shake up the happily ever that the reader was left with at the end of the third book. My problem was that I felt that he ventured too far from the main characters. If the emphasis of the overall arc of series is Ross and by extension, his wife and son, I found that Ross was away from his family for far too long for my liking.  While the author spend about half of the novel with secondary characters, both new and familiar, I would have preferred to focus a little closer to home.

Do I recommend it? I’m leaning toward no.

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Demelza Book Review

Life, like marriage is hard work. Some days are good, some days are bad and others we hope are in between.

Demelza, A Novel Of Cornwall, by Winston Graham, is the second book in the Poldark series.

In this book, Demelza is no longer the teenaged house maid of Ross Poldark, the protagonist of the series. Demelza is now married to Ross, a first time mother and a member of the upper classes. But her life is not all sunshine and happily ever after. While Ross struggles to keep his mines open and support the communities that work in the mines, George Warleggan does everything in his power to stop Ross.  While adapting to her new family and her new role in society, Demelza becomes close with Verity, Ross’s unmarried cousin who is still nursing a broken heart for the man her brother and father rejected years earlier.

Will Demelza find peace and her place in this world? Or will this miner’s daughter always be a miners daughter?

After reading books 1 & 3 and watching the recent PBS miniseries, I was eager to read the books. I was not disappointed. In contrast to what was expected of a “lady” of the era, Demelza is smart, capable and true to her roots.

I recommend it.

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Ross Poldark/Jeremy Poldark Book Review

Ross Poldark’s life is full of inconsistencies. He is a member of the gentry, but he is also a soldier. Ross was raised to be a gentleman, but he has a temper and can be impetuous.

Ross Poldark is the lead character in Winston Graham’s novel, Ross Poldark: A Novel Of Cornwall (1783-1787).  Returning from the American Revolution, Ross has discovered that his father is dead, the mines that his family relied on for income are decimated and his former sweetheart, Elizabeth is about to marry his cousin, Francis.  But life is about take a turn for the better. Getting his hands dirty, Ross works hard to rebuild his land, his home and his mine. He also takes in Demelza Carne, a young girl to be his kitchen maid. But this will turn out to be far  more than the normal master/servant relationship.

Three years later, Ross’s life is turned upside down. In Jeremy Poldark: A Novel Of Cornwall (1791), Ross and Demeleza, are hit not by one, but by two major issues. The loss of their daughter and the accusation that Ross stole from a ship that was torn to shreds to pieces by the rocks during the storm. But there is a light in this chaotic time: the birth of their son: Jeremy. Can Ross and Demelza survive the loss of their daughter and Ross’s potential jail time or will their lives forever be changed?

So, I have to admit, I skipped book two. Demelza is book two in between Ross and Jeremy. But because I watched the miniseries, I was not too far behind. These characters are so compelling that the reader can’t but help getting lost in the story.

I recommend them both.

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You Might Be A Poldark Fan If

You might be Poldark fan if…

  • You have seen the original series or you have read the books.
  • You say “smouldark” instead of Poldark.
  • If you didn’t know who Aidan Turner was before, you know who he is now.
  • You’ve watched this video far too many times.

 

  • You’ve also seen this video far too many times.

  • Cornwall has been added to your places to visit in the UK.
  • As a female, you are envious of Elizabeth’s, Verity’s and Demelza’s (post street urchin) clothes.
  • You wanted to reach into the screen and smack Ruth for her nasty comments.
  • Ross Poldark stands with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester and Mr. Thornton as British literary leading men that bring out the inner fifteen year old in you.
  • Sunday at 9, you are home, your television is tuned to PBS.
  • And finally, you are ready for season two (even if you are in the US and only halfway through season one).

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Darcy’s Competition

Any fan of Pride and Prejudice would argue that Colin Firth’s dip in the lake is iconic and sets hearts racing.

I’d never though I’d see the day that the this scene might have a rival.

All I can say is that this ginger might have put on a pair of fins and a shell bikini if it meant a swim in the ocean with Ross Poldark.

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Poldark & The Crimson Field Review

There is nothing like Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday night to usher in the work week. The vacuum that Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge left a few months ago was filled last night by Poldark and The Crimson Field.

Based on the books by Winston Graham and a reboot of the original 1970’s miniseries, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) has just returned from fighting for the British in the American Revolution. The reception that he received was unexpected. His father is dead, his home is in ruins and his sweetheart, Elizabeth (Heida Reed) is engaged to Ross’s cousin Francis (Kyle Soller). The economy is in a depression and Ross has to find a new way to revitalize his land and the lives of his tenants. When Ross rescues Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) from a beating, he expects to see a young boy under the rags. He finds a woman who is escaping a brutal home life. Offering Demelza the position of kitchen maid, Ross does not know that his life might just turn around in more ways that one.

I have not seen the original miniseries, but it’s fabled lore continues 40 years after it’s initial airing. Ross Poldark might not be Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester, but he comes pretty close to that stature. I know I am going to enjoy the series.

The Crimson Field is the story of three young women who have volunteered as nurses at a hospital in Northern France during World War I. Kitty (Oona Chaplin), Rosalie (Marianne Oldham) and Flora (Alice St. Clair) have no idea what they are getting into when they signed up to volunteer. They will quickly learn the brutality of war and the hard decisions that must be made. Lt. Col Roland Brett (Downton Abbey’s Kevin Doyle) is the head of the camp who goes against a superior’s orders to send a young soldier home who is suffering from what we now know is PTSD. Matron Grace Carter (Hermoine Norris) is tough on the new recruits, but she has her own story to tell.

I didn’t enjoy this program as much as I did Poldark.  I couldn’t keep up as well with the characters. But for history buffs and people like me who are suffering from Downton withdrawal, it’s not all that bad.

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