Ross Poldark is the first of the 12 novel Poldark Series by Winston Graham. The Novels of Cornwall. I discovered this series through the PBS Masterpiece Theatre series, Poldark, based on the novels. I came into the first season late and was only able to catch a few episodes, but I was absolutely hooked. Sadly, the series won’t have a second season until at least this summer. However, my interest in the show prompted me to hunt down and read the first three Poldark novels for myself.
This first novel, as one might imagine, introduces us all to the characters and setting for the series. Mainly, it focuses on Ross Poldark, the main character. He has been away in America fighting in the Revolutionary War, and has returned to his home, Nampara, in England to find his father dead, the family home and mines in a shambles, and his romantic prospects greatly changed. The reader gets a bit of backstory as to what led Ross to America, and we learn that he had, for a time, been presumed dead before his return to England. We see him faced with a great deal of change and struggle all at once, and we watch as he tries to move forward and build up both his life and his home again, with new and greater motivation picking up new relationships, new enemies, and new ventures along the way.
The book has a little bit of everything. Drama, romance, tragedy, comedy, action, and a little touch of the philosophical as well. Several of the characters have a very biting wit. It’s overall a pretty sassy series. Ross Poldark is strong and dark and tumultuous. He’s from an old and respected family, well versed in social graces, and highly committed to his own moral code. However, he has a terrible temper and is forevermore skirting both social convention and the laws of the land in order to set things right. Basically the rebel with a heart of gold. I shouldn’t like him, and he’s a little cliche, but I am so head over heels for him. He is definitely my literary crush for all time, guilty pleasure or no.
The historical aspect is one of the most interesting parts of the book. It’s still relevant today. I especially encourage anyone who lives in a mining town to give these books a try.
My favorite quotes from the book:
Someone at school had christened them the fair Poldark and the dark Poldark.
That scar is a considerable disfigurement.
Ill usage makes the sweetest of us vicious.
I could say how well he dances, but that isn’t true, for he dances like that big friendly bear I saw last Christmas.
It was only this sudden luxury which scared her.
Ever read the classics, my boy? Cure for many ills of the modern world.
You’re learnin’ her to be sassy!
Monthly, out of common courtesy, he went to inquire after the invalid Charles, who refused either to die or get better.
In the depths of horror and despair, one comes to a new steadiness. There is no farther to fall.
A man, even a kind one, can sometimes be cruel without knowin’ it.
If every one of you was to clean before his own front door, all would be clean of cow flops.
Autumn lingered on as if fond of its own perfection.
Gone was the halo, and in its place, the dark crown of humanity.
“You misbehaved monstrously,” he said, “and were a triumph!”
All had been animated to a common end, and that end, a moment of enlightenment, and understanding, and completion.
I love these books. I recommend them highly.