Step back in time to 1783 in Cornwall, England. Walk down the narrow dirt road along the cliff by the sea. Observe the weathered men working in one of the copper mines and then returning home to their families in little cottages at the end of a long day. Just a stone’s throw across the meadow live the titled wealthy families who know nothing of the struggle to put bread on the table. Two worlds on the same spread of land. In his classic book, Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787, Winston Graham explores the dichotomy of life for the commoner and the privileged in this first book in the Poldark series.
In Cornwall, the name Poldark has a long history among the gentry. In their case, the family has a dual tale. While the older brother inherited a large estate, the younger was left with a small parcel and more common housing. The younger brother’s son is Ross Poldark. When Ross returns from war in American, he finds that his father has passed away. Even worse, his sweetheart Elizabeth is pledged to marry his cousin instead. With a house in disrepair, lazy house servants, no capital and a broken heart, Ross finds himself relating to the common man much more than his titled roots. As a friend of peasants and son of gentry, he finds himself caught between two worlds. One struggles to survive and the other lives lavishly off the labor of the others.
Ross seeks to reestablish the mine his father closed in order to support himself and provide work for men in the community. Every decision is carefully weighed through his motivation to improve the lives of others as well as his own. He stands in strong contrast to his cousin who also owns a mine and continually pursues every option for his own gain.
When Ross rescues a child’s dog in the village, he finds out that her tattered appearance represents both physical and emotional poverty. Raised in a family with an abusive father and brothers, Ross offers her the chance to move into the home as kitchen staff. In this way, Demelza becomes a fixture in his life. She comes to the home as a child but over the years grows into Ross’ life as a friend and eventually accepts his hand in marriage. Together they represent the best of the diverse worlds they come from and their story will inspire you to reexamine the mundane and ordinary adventure of your everyday life.
I loved every bit of this novel. The superb storytelling was rich with details. I felt like I could nearly breathe the sea air and feel the gravel scratching under my feet as I read their story. While some parts of the story progressed slowly, or seemed to lack excitement, the overall tale is that of one heroic man continually looking out for those around him. It is a story that will inspire you to be a better person and consider that courage and bravery come in all shapes and sizes. A small act can be one of heroic redemption for the one receiving the kindness.
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.