In the sequel to his original novel, Poldark, Winston Graham continues the saga in his second novel, Demelza. With rich vivid descriptions of life in British Cornwall, Demelza continues to endear herself to the reader. Rescued from her life as a neglected waif of a child to enter Poldark’s home as a servant in the first novel, now Demelza finds herself a young wife who lacks the social skills to enter society at a level equal to her husband. As the story progresses, she develops from a sweet girl lacking confidence to a beautiful confident woman able to navigate society without losing her country charm that endears her to wealthy and poor alike.
The backdrop of Demelza’s character comes against a series of trials for Ross Poldark as well as triumphs for others. Verity, Ross’ cousin has found herself free to make a move after the death of her father. Formerly prevented from marrying a sea captain, Andrew Blamey, Verity feels trapped and lonely with the loss. But Demelza’s own happiness with Ross drives her to seek the same joy for her friend and it is she who is largely responsible for Verity and Andrew’s reunion and subsequent marriage. Their joy becomes Ross’ loss as Verity’s brother, Francis lashes out in anger over the discovery and makes a move that nearly destroys Ross’ mining business.
Ross struggles to run a profitable mining business and makes strides to undercut the current system that prevents mine owners from making a decent profit from their copper. But when the Warleggans discover the scheme through Francis and threaten the miner owners involved, Ross finds himself buried with debt and wondering how he will recover.
With a deep feud brooding between Ross and Francis, illness strikes Cornwall. When Demelza discovers that Francis and Elizabeth are both desperately ill along with their son and the entire household, she takes matters into her own hands to nurse them back to health. It turns out to have dire consequences that results in the loss of her own daughter.
As a mother, I enjoyed this novel for the character development of Demelza. Seeing her grow from a child to a confident individual despite all the obstacles makes her nothing less than heroic. Novels like these represent everything good about quality literature. They engage the reader with the challenges of life and draw the mind upward toward higher possibilities and everyday courage. I highly recommend this novel and the whole series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.