Set in Cornwall towards the end of the 18th century, the first three books in the Poldark series tell the story of two families, the Poldarks and the Warleggans, and the bitter rivalry between the heads of both – one an impoverished mine owner from a long-established family, and the other of the nouveau riche anxious to establish their own credentials in the county. Ross Poldark returns from America where he was serving with his regiment in the War of Independence to find that his father has died, the girl he hoped to marry is engaged to his cousin, Francis, and his home is a virtual ruin. The copper and tin mines are slowly closing and war with France is brewing. At the Truro Fair he meets and befriends Demelza Carne, a thirteen-year-old waif who was being bullied by a gang of boys, and takes her back to Nampara to work as a kitchen maid. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 1977 the BBC first transmitted the books as a television series, and many readers will remember the stories of love, treachery and betrayal vividly set against a backdrop of mining, fishing, wrecks and smuggling. These first three books cover the period from 1783-1791 and tell the story of life in Cornwall at that time with all the joys, despairs, excitement and disasters with which it was peppered.
Although a devoted fan of the TV series I never read the books but am finding them as much joy to read now as the series was to watch some forty years ago. They will certainly find a permanent place on my bookshelves. This is social history at its best and I can’t wait to read the rest of them.