Tag Archives: Winston Graham

Poldark Character Review: Caroline 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, Ross’s cousin, Verity Blamey and Ross’s best friend, Dr. Dwight Enys. In this last post talking about the characters within the Poldark universe, I will be writing about Caroline Enys (nee Penvenen).

Caroline is introduced in book 3 and series 2 as the typical rich girl, a la Maria Bertram from  Mansfield Park. An orphan, she was raised by her uncle. At the age when she is eligible to marry, she comes with unwanted baggage: her potential fiance, Unwin Trevaunance.  Unwin makes Maria’s fiance, Mr. Rushworth look like Clark Gable, which is not saying much. A happy marriage, this is not destined to be.

Then Caroline falls for Dwight Enys, a doctor who chooses to practice medicine in Cornwall  among the lower classes instead of in fashionable Bath or London. While Caroline may appear to be the spoiled rich girl, she has a heart. She secretly pays off Ross’s debts and pays for the food that keeps the poorer denizens of Cornwall from dying of scurvy. She also marries Dwight, knowing full well that he is a step down and that her marriage will be frowned upon by some people.

Caroline could have easily been a paint by numbers character: the spoiled rich girl, the character who chooses to live by society’s rules instead of by their own rules. But because she takes a stand for what she wants out of life and gives back to others without expecting anything in return, she is revealed to be a character who surprises the audience.

To sum it up: The writer needs every now and again to surprise their audience. Just when the audience thinks that they know the character, throwing them a curve ball is another incentive to keep the audience engaged and involved. Dull and predictable characters will not hold your audience. Interesting and different characters will hold your audience.

On a personal note, I want to thank the readers who have allowed me to  experiment with a new series of blog posts. It has been a pleasure to examine how writers can create engaging and fully formed characters that keep the audience on their toes. In the next few weeks, I will be examining the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m looking forward to it.

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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: 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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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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