Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Ross Poldark - Winston Graham

I've had the first 3 novels in this series for a little while now, but the BBC adaptation airing reminded me that I ought to actually read them (or at least the first one) before I watch it.

The titular character, Ross Poldark, returns from fighting in the American civil war to find that his childhood sweetheart is on the brink of marrying his cousin. Plunged into a wave of depression and disillusionment, he cuts himself off from the rest of the family and tries to carve out a life for himself from the ruins of his father's land.

Stylistically, I found this novel a little odd - Graham does an excellent job using the linguistic style of the time period, and his local dialects add a lot of flavour to the text. However, the sense of realism portrayed in the structure of the plot and the sections of unreliable narration during times of great emotion for the characters feel much more modern. Ross Poldark is a convincing historical pastiche language-wise, but tells the story in a modern manner.

It's the start of a typical family saga in that we see the points of view of most of the characters involved, and follow their innermost feelings in great detail for short spaces of time. In that way it reminded me of The Forsyte Saga, in that not very much technically happens, but in a very personal and involving way. The depth and attention to detail in which each character's thoughts are described means that by the end you feel as though you've known all of them personally for a long time.

Now that's finished, I can check out what the BBC adaptation's like!

PS. How fantastic is his matador cape on the cover?

Next up: The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

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