Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Black Moon

I've been reading Graham Winston's Poldark series pretty much in tandem with the PBS broadcast of the new series. Season 3 started at the beginning of October, and so I read book 5, The Black Moon, which provides the basis for the first half of this season, in September/October.

I have been completely absorbed by baseball playoffs this year, and so have only watched episode 1 of season 3, so I don't know how much they actually include from the book. I do know that I was gnashing my teeth during the first half of episode 1, but settled down and liked it again during the second half.

On to The Black Moon--I think it's the best of the series so far. It was written 20 years after book 4, Warleggan, but it picks up the story shortly after book 4 ended, with the birth of Elizabeth and George Warleggan's son, Valentine, during a total eclipse of the moon. This was a nice literary touch to the story, giving Aunt Agatha lots of fodder for her cursing of the child and George, tagging the eclipse as an omen.

I loved the new characters, Demelza's brothers, Sam (the missionary) and Drake (the charmer) Carne, as well as Elizabeth's cousin, Morwenna Chenoweth.  They provide much needed new story threads, and gave the author the opportunity to educate us on the growth of Methodism in Cornwall.

I also enjoyed learning about the English/French military encounters during the late 1790s, as the English tried to help the displaced French aristocrats battle the Republicans who took over their country in 1789.

A ghost from Ross's past, Tholly Tregirls, also surfaces and plays a major role in the latter half of the book. Tholly is the most definitive pirate since Long John Silver, and promises to be a nice counterpoint to the domesticating influence of Demelza.

I thought Graham was wise to send Ross and his mates off to France to break nice Dr. Enys out of a French prison. It turned the book into a good, old-fashioned adventure story, and it was a relief from the monotony of George's machinations.

Caroline Penvenen and Verity Blamey also have key roles in the story, both of whom are wonderful characters and I so enjoy spending time with them, as different as they are.

I have high hopes for sweet Geoffrey Charles Poldark, son of the late Francis Poldark and Elizabeth. He's bright and I love that he has the mind and interests of an engineer. I predict that he and his friend Drake will team up to do good things in Cornwall in the future. I hope so, at least.

The book ends on a couple of grim notes, which means that book 6 will have a fair amount of sturm und drang, but I love that it is titled The Four Swans, and will focus on the four major women in Ross's life: Demelza, Elizabeth, Morwenna, and Caroline. After book 5 being a boy's adventure story, the women of Cornwall get their book in which to hold center stage.

Now, on to book 6 and resuming season 3 of Poldark...that is once the World Series is over!


  1. So many people love the Poldark series. I have neither read the books nor seen the television adaptions. It sounds very good. Your commentary on this book makes it sounds even more interesting. I need to give the books of the series a try some time.

  2. I just skimmed your review because I still need to read Warleggan! I think that Graham writes good historical fiction. At least so far, he doesn't sugar coat anything, which I appreciate.

    I remember watching only bits and pieces of the old PBS/Masterpiece Theater version with my parents in the 70s but haven't seen any of the new series yet.