Warleggan: A Novel of Cornwall 4: by Winston Graham


Well, the Poldark honeymoon is over for me, and ‘Warleggan’ is mostly to blame. From an early and earnest enjoyment of the books and show on BBC/PBS, the saga has become rather strained at this point. I find myself hoping that if the show ever makes it this far that a plot change, normally hateful to an avid reader, is considered.

If you can believe it, Ross and Demelza are still hanging onto the poverty line by a fingernails width. No, bad analogy, bad memories. Okay so brushing past the plot of this book, there is a very unexpected and upsetting death. I might have known that a writer this talented who portrays the dark and light side of life equally could do this to me, the reader, but perhaps it was the timing and the manner that I really was upset by. I’m not even going to hint though.

Instead I report that sadly, Ross is straying farther from his wife in heart (treacherous, treacherous hearts!), TEN years have gone by and this candle for Elizabeth won’t go out. The way this plays out is most unfortunate and tests the marriage of Ross and Demelza to the very limit. I was mostly unhappy with the last quarter of the book. Up to now Graham has displayed a wonderful point of view of women not only for his time (written in the 1950s) but taking place in the 1790s. To this end a good bit of old fashioned views and sexism are completely expected, but I found the character Graham built up in Demelza suddenly betray the reader in a way that I can’t go into without spoiling the entire plot.

It only added to the deeply unfortunate way that Graham decided to handle Ross’ character as well. I notice that Graham took a twenty year break from the Poldark story after this and then picked it up again. I wonder if he was in a better mood in the 1970s or if I should quit reading them altogether? Ack I just remembered I bought the next book on Amazon before I finished ‘Warleggan’.

Well let me reiterate what I said in the last review of ‘Jeremy’ (who by the way is only still an infant and toddler in these books so I have no clue why they put an adult on the cover of the 3rd Poldark book) that Graham does not shy away from putting his characters through the paces of ‘real life’. They don’t get much of a literary break from their creator. As such, I felt unusually depressed wrapping this story up, and CRIED!!! at a particular scene (completely not my style), and I am WELL used to emotionally impactful writing. Wah.

I do believe it’s the first time in my literary history something has sent tears down my cheeks other than a death. So yeah, think about that. I said there is a very unexpected and upsetting death, and it wasn’t what made me cry!!!

So, fore-warned is fore-armed, I don’t discourage the reading of this book, ‘Warleggan has just as beautiful prose and talent as the first three, but don’t expect a Cinderella moment just yet in Ross and Demelza Poldark’s story.

Hopefully I’ve got this out of my system for now, I’m going to go read something trite and fluffy now.


About Deanne

I was born and raised out on the fringes of the rainy Pacific Northwest on fishing boats and cold beaches with only a dog and kittens for company, and so my love of reading and creating stories started very early. My dad would illustrate my early stories and I would listen to him ramble about European history and warfare, eagerly asking questions about Kings, Queens and our own family history. In my adult life I am wife to a brilliant and hilarious web designer and mother to two wonderfully weird children whom I am trying to pass on to my love of learning about the world. I'm an amateur genealogist, amateur photographer and amateur history major haha. I'm good at doing amateur stuff lol. During the last couple years I finally turned my life-long urge to write into a serious endeavor and finished my first novel called (for now) The Stone and the Stars, about a dying dystopian society, and one girl trying to escape it before it collapses. While I finish cleaning up the edges on my novel for the umpteenth time, and before I send it out into the world, I've lately begun a novel about utopia, this time on Earth. I'm finally living up to the nerdy book-worm title my family 'lovingly' pinned on me from the time I was small, and finally doing that one thing I feel like I was born to do. Cliche and silly? Yes!
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