Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Recent reading (more Poldark!)
the Poldark novels by Winston Graham, set in Cornwall in the late 1700s. I picked up where I left off at Christmastime by reading books #6 & #7 in the series, The Four Swans and The Angry Tide.
"The Four Swans" takes its title from the swans on the river in Truro, observed by both Morwenna & Ross. To Ross, they seem to represent the four main women in his life (Demelza, Caroline, Elizabeth and Morwenna), each of whom faces challenges in her life and her marriage in this book. For Demelza, it's her attraction to a handsome young naval officer, rescued by Ross in France (who has a way with a pen); for Caroline, it's dissatisfaction in her marriage to Dwight because of his devotion to his medical career and his patients; for Elizabeth, it's George's jealousy and suspicions about their son's parentage that continue to overshadow their marriage; and for Morwenna, it's a loveless arranged marriage to a pompous young minister (who has a foot fetish, no less!!). Demelza's brothers, Sam & Drake, are back too, and both dealing with broken hearts in their own ways.
As Goodreads reviewer Marilyn says, "Whatever else you might think of Winston Graham's writing, his characters are sterling. They screw up, redeem themselves, then screw up again. Real people, fascinating in their human-ness."
"The Angry Tide" continues these storylines, with Ross now a member of Parliament, and there is a good chunk of the book that takes place in London, as seen through a visiting Demelza's eyes. I could have done with a little less of London, but overall, I loved this book, and I loved the characters' pronouncements on life, love, marriage and death. The last part of the book ties up several ongoing storylines, as the 18th century draws to a close and another century dawns, and Ross faces his 40th birthday. It packs one emotional wallop after another, with a stunning ending. If you love these books & these characters as I do, you will want to have Kleenex on hand. (And while I never want the books or the TV series to end, I vividly remember how the 1970s TV adaptation ended -- and there's a part of me that cannot wait to see how the current cast & producers handle the challenge!)
The next five novels in the series after these two take a leap forward in time 10 years, and focus more on the lives and loves of Ross & Demelza's children. I read all of them years ago, with the sole exception being the 12th & final novel, "Bella Poldark." The producers of the "Poldark" BBC/PBS TV series have said they are not sure they will continue filming the novels past this one (because of this leap in time), so I am not sure I will continue to re-read the later novels; at least, they will not be a priority for me in the same way the others were. I will probably look to read something else next. But I would highly recommend the whole series. :)
These were books #1 & #2 that I've read to date in 2017. I have set myself a goal, through the Goodreads Challenge, to read 24 books in 2017.