Demelza Carne, the impoverished miner’s daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground rabble, is now his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage and their love.
This is the second book in the Poldark series, written in the 1940s, but set in the 1780s. Many will know it from the television adaptations, and I assume plenty will be drawn in by the complicated relationship between protagonist Ross Poldark and Demelza, the servant he shocked society by marrying. There’s some real tragedy in this second one.
I love Demelza. She’s a real heroine. She has to be one of my favourite literary characters, and a heroine I can truly identify with. She struggles because she was born into poverty and abuse and somehow has to turn herself into a lady, and a lady who was the second choice of her much higher-ranking husband. She is steady and constant and has more wisdom than most people around her. She makes heaps of mistakes, but she cares for people first and politics second.
Of course having watched the show, I already knew what was going to happen (even though I expected differences in the book – but they never came), but the book still moved me. Naturally, there are characters I’m more interested in reading about than others, but I think the author struck a good balance.
I was so surprised to learn that the first season – only eight episodes! – of the new BBC version covered not just book one, but also book two. I was reluctant to read the books for other reasons, such as not wanting to discover the story I loved so much on the screen was very different in the books. However, I shouldn’t have worried.
I spent half my university degree studying scriptwriting and book-to-screen adaptation. I know better than almost anyone the difficulties of staying true to the source. But this one is an extraordinary feat, because the Poldark series is literally the book on the screen. Maybe it’s the episodic style of author Winston Graham’s writing, and the fact he creates stories not just for his main characters, but also his secondary characters.
Whatever it is, scenes, huge passages of dialogue – and even the weather – are the same as in the book.
I’m not sure if I’ll read on in the series because I know what happens in future books. I might be fine finishing here, with a tentative hope between the two leads despite tragedy. However, I’m becoming a little addicted to this little patch of Cornwall and the people struggling there in the Georgian era.