Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787

NewsFlash: The Ross Poldark Blog Tour Update

The Ross Poldark Blog Tour has concluded but there is still time to leave comments and enter the giveaway contest until 11:59pm PTAugust 10, 2015. And, there is exciting news. PBS has contributed a DVD of season one of Poldark to our list of prizes! Here is the updated prize list with it included:


  • (1) DVD of season one of Poldark
  • (2 ) Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Mugs by Johnson Brothers
  • (1) Twelve-inch Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Plater by Johnson Brothers
  • (1) London Telephone Box Tin of Ahmad English Breakfast Tea
  • (1) Jar of Mrs. Bridges Marmalade
  • (1) Package of Duchy Originals Organic Oaten Biscuits
  • (2) Packets of Blue Boy Cornflower Seeds by Renee’s Garden Heirloom 
  • (1) Trade Paperback Copy of Ross Poldark and Demelza, by Winston Graham


And now...here's my review of Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787







I am so happy to be part of The Ross Poldark Blog Tour, and I'm reviewing the first book in Winston Graham's popular Poldark Saga, Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787.

Reading the first book in a series is sort of like a first date...you know there might be the potential for a long-term relationship (there are 12 books in the Poldark Saga!), but you don't want to commit before you know what you're getting into.

There's the initial attraction - I really enjoy historical fiction, and I'm intrigued by the setting: Cornwall, late 18th century.  And, I knew that BBC/PBS was airing a new mini-series adaptation this summer, and I'm a read-the-book first type-of girl, so I said 'Yes!"

All our friends say we are perfect for each other.  It's amazing how many of my reading friends whose taste I admire popped up to say how much they loved Captain Ross Poldark once the mini-series remake was announced.

There's the getting-to-know-you conversation--I admit I had a few second thoughts when the book opened with the deathbed scene of Ross's father, who is not a very likeable sort.  It's important to know what kind of a family Ross if from--an old family with a respectable name that is facing financial troubles--but I think the screenwriters were smart to skip the prologue and dive straight into Ross's service in the American Revolutionary War (on the side of the Redcoats, of course).

Once we got the backstory out of the way--Ross is heir to a crumbling estate, responsible for a motley crew of household workers and tenant laborers, was jilted by his sweetheart who married his cousin as soon as he returned home from America and the wars--I was hooked.

Ross is a hero without being a paragon of virtue, which makes him a perfect hero!.  He has a big heart, a strong sense of justice and fairness, but has a weakness for burying his troubles in a bottle and being jealous and moody and autocratic.  Thankfully for the plot, he also is usually socially blind, which means he gets entangled in situations that he should've foreseen but didn't.

Case in point, Ross rescues a young female waif, Demelza,  from village louts and an abusive father, takes her home and makes her his kitchen wench.  He cleans her up and makes her a general companion and helpmate, and then is surprised when his neighbors assume he is sleeping with her.

It's this naivete in the face of his military service and rough-and-tumble life that makes Ross so attractive as a main character.  He is just fun to read about.

I also enjoyed the rest of the characters and their stories and how they fit into the life of Ross, especially Demelza.  She is an absolute joy--I was thrilled to discover that book 2 in the series is called Demelza, which is a very good sign indeed.  She has grit and nerve and pluck, but is shy and tender and loyal.



I also loved the setting.  Everything I know about Cornwall, I've learned from Doc Martin and Daphne du Maurier.  So, it was interesting to learn about Cornwall's mining industry and the smuggling (some of which I knew from Frenchman's Creek) tradition.  I loved hearing the regional names and looking them up on Google maps.

As a fan of Jane Austen, it was also really interesting to read about the timeframe during which she was a child--the economic issues, the political issues, and the social issues that were causing the Old Regime to weaken and start to totter.

I am definitely reading book 2 in the series, and I expect you'll be seeing me review the entire Poldark Saga on this blog as time goes by.  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!


33 comments:

  1. I have heard such good things about the Poldark series.

    I have been on a bit of an 18th century English novel kick lately so books written in the same style, though published a century later ,sound appealing.

    I am looking forward to your upcoming commentary on these books.

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  2. I always knew of the name "Poldark" (from back when the series was first popular) but never gave it much thought. Now I'm very interested -- thank you!

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  3. Thank you so much for this review! I've been enjoying the show on Masterpiece and it's made me contemplate reading the books, but as you say, a series that long is a big commitment! Your review is showing me it'd probably be worth it. Thanks for participating in the blog tour! :)

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  4. I enjoyed reading this one too.

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  5. I hope I am among the friends that steered you to this great novel Janet. Great review. I agree about the prologue being a bit rough. It is short and we are soon into Ross and his troubles.

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  6. Thank you for the heads-up on the prologue. I will now consider it as necessary back story and move on. Well done!

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  7. I always love to read your point of view on things I'm interested in! Thanks for sharing your musings.

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  8. Thanks for your review! I've been watching the mini-series and have wondered how the books might be.

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  9. I have been enjoying the TV series so much. I would love to read the books, too. Thank you for the terrific review of Book 1. Can't wait to hear what you think of Book 2!

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  10. I just loved the books so much when I read them in the 70s that I couldn't watch the recent TV series. I'm so glad you are hooked on the books!

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  11. I love Poldark the show and now want to read the books! Thanks for the review and giveaway!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by--I visited your website, and for my reader, I want to let you know that roseofthewest has a gorgeous post on Cornwall here: https://inlovewithengland.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/discover-cornwall-england/#comment-429

      Well worth visiting and enjoying a virtual tour of the Poldark landscapes!

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  12. The show is so good i watch it every sunday evening im such a fan thanks for the giveaway denise smith denise226@verizon.net

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  13. The show is fantastic, and find Poldark's flaws make him an incredibly interesting character. That sexy scar on his face doesn't hurt either. Like you, I'm rather addicted to the Cornwall landscape. It's just so stunning and that's coming from a California where our coast, from Big Sur to the beaches of Malibu, is pretty damn gorgeous. I'm blogging about the show on my book to movie blog, Chapter1-Take1 if you care to take a gander. Here's the link http://chapter1-take1.blogspot.com/2015/07/poldark-say-yes-to-dress-episode-three.html

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  14. I am loving POLDARK! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  15. Wonderful review! This -> "He has a big heart, a strong sense of justice and fairness, but has a weakness for burying his troubles in a bottle and being jealous and moody and autocratic." REALLY makes me want to meet book Ross! :-D

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  16. Poldark seems to be a man's man. Definitely a man after my heart. The silent brooding type who's sense of loyalty and justice defines him. Looking forward to reading this book and watching the series. Thank you for the generous give away.

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  17. I just watched an interview of Aiden Turner in which he said very similar things to your review comments -- that his default setting is to help people but he's also a bit of a bad-ass and has his flaws. LOL I hope to read the books, soon. I'm enjoying the PBS production immensely.

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  18. I'm a Winston Graham fan and I've read the Poldark series twice and although I watched the new series on TV I don't think it was nearly as good as the original 1975 TV series. I don't think they got the casting right in the new series, still worth watching though.

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  19. Loving this series. Generous giveaway. Thank you!

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  20. Can't wait to read the books. Love the show & Aiden Turner as well. Thanks for this great giveaway chance.
    Carol L

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  21. I too have been watching the new show and am enjoying it but would like to read the books as well.

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  22. I so want to read these books! I'm really enjoying the series on PBS. My kind of story. Hope I win! lol

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  23. Loving this Poldark! Have read the first two books on my Kindle but would love to have printed copies! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

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  24. Great review and giveaway! :) I love Poldark. <3
    caliwillette(at)gmail(dot)com

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  25. Thanks for the giveaway! Awesome series on PBS.

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  26. I thought I had commented before so forgive me if I am double posting. I found your review very interesting. I also admire Demelza's loyalty, not only to Ross and family but also to Garrick her dog. She did not abandon him at the dog fight nor when she found a home with Ross. Garrick was there with her. She places high value on friendship and loyalty. Thank you for hosting this tour. I hope to get to read the Poldark series.
    cjay(at)iavalley(dot)edu

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  27. I loved the show and I want to read the books!
    cricketlady29@hotmail.com

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  28. my daughter & I love Sunday nights watching PBS, this show is amazing and we look forward to next season-it can't come soon enough!

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  29. This first novel isn't bad. It's pretty good. But it's not the best historical fiction I have ever read - or the best in the "POLDARK" series.

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