Poldark: Ross Poldark

Written by Winston Graham
Review by Maggi de Rozario

Winston Graham began writing his epic saga of the Poldark family in 1945 and finished the last of the 12 books which complete the series in 2002, only a year before he died at the age of 93. The first two books have been reprinted for a new generation of readers in conjunction with a new BBC series commissioned for Spring 2015. The books follow the fortunes of Ross Poldark, a minor member of the landed gentry who returns to Cornwall in 1783 after being injured whilst fighting as a soldier in America.

The first book tells of Ross’s return to Cornwall where he finds that his father has died, his estate and inheritance are in ruins, and Elizabeth – the girl he thought to marry – is engaged to his cousin Francis. Despite this, his love for Cornwall and sympathy for the local miners and fishermen, for whom he feels both a sense of responsibility and an indignation at the poverty in which they are forced to live, encourage him in the struggle to re-open his mine, restore his estate and remake his life. His experiences in Cornwall are inextricably interwoven with the lives of his cousins Francis and Verity, their families and local landowners. A visit to a local fair leads him to rescue a half-starved, beaten girl, Demelza Carne, and her dog Garrick. Gradually this wild young girl becomes an integral part of his life as his servant and eventually as so much more.

Winston Graham is a master storyteller. Despite having been written 60 years ago these novels have not dated, and continue to enthral the reader. There is something here for everyone; a page-turning story; fascinating history accurately researched; romance and passion; treachery and villainy; and the beautiful landscape of Cornwall.