Years ago I used to enjoy the odd Winston Graham novel, but it was his crime novels rather than his historical novels I read, Marnie and The Walking Stick. I didn’t get interested in the Poldarks until the recent Masterpiece rework of the series.
Ross Poldark returns to his home in Cornwall from the war in America to find nothing as he expected. His father has died, and his slovenly servants have not kept up the house or the farm. Someone has set about a rumor that he died, and the girl he loves, Elizabeth Chynoweth, is engaged to his cousin Francis.
Ross sets about trying to put his property in order and to deal with his feelings about Elizabeth. He investigates whether he can get one of the mines on his property back into order. He also involves himself in the problems of his tenants.
While he is at a fair to buy livestock, he plucks an urchin out of a fight about a dog. Although the child is dressed as a boy, she is a girl, Demelza. When Ross finds her father has abused her, he agrees not to return her to her family and takes her as a kitchen maid.
Ross Poldark is an interesting historical novel dealing with the problems of the time in Cornwall. I don’t know much about Cornwall, which is associated in my mind with many of the novels of Daphne du Maurier. Although this novel certainly involved me, I found myself unable to separate it from the Masterpiece series. For example, although Demelza is described as dark, I still kept picturing her as a redhead. Since the Masterpiece series is based on the first two books, I’ll have to wait until the third book before I can begin to separate it in my mind. Certainly, the first novel seems just as effective as the series, which has so far followed the novel closely.