JUST FINISHED: Ross Poldark by Winston Graham.
A period romance/social novel set in a mining community in Cornwall, towards the end of the eighteenth century. The main character, Ross Poldark, is a small landowner and a soldier, who returns home after the American War of Independence to find that his father has died, and his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth – who he had been expecting to marry when he got home – is now engaged to his cousin.
Other important characters include: Elizabeth; Francis, the aforementioned cousin; Verity, Francis’ kind sister, who is on the verge of becoming an old maid; Jud & Prudie, Ross’ two lazy servants; George Warleggan, the son of a wealthy family of bankers whom Ross disapproves of; and most importantly, Demelza, a young girl whom Ross rescues from her abusive father, hires as a kitchenmaid, and later marries.
One of the major themes in this series is social inequality, which is something that Ross feels passionately about: He is on friendly terms with his tenants and workers, almost all of whom survive on next to nothing – while at the same time he is (though not particularly wealthy himself) also in a position to bear witness to the opulent waste of many of his social equals. His moral code is one of the things that makes him most appealing as a lead character, even though, combined with a rather short temper, it often gets him into trouble.
I’ve been watching the recent adaptation of this series, so I knew more or less what was going to happen in the book before I started reading, but – as is often the case with period dramas – it thankfully didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. There was really only one big surprise for me, and that was Demelza’s age at the beginning of the book, which initially made me a little uncomfortable. Time passes quite quickly in this story however, and thankfully she was almost eighteen before she became involved with Ross, and, in fact, it was revealed a little later in the book that the age difference between them wasn’t nearly as big as I’d been imagining – only ten years! Which is hardly anything, considering the times. 🙂
CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Ill and tired, but thankfully still interested in reading.
Books Completed: 4
Pages Read: 1041
Challenges Completed: 5