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 Post subject: Poldark
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:21 am 
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Well, I've finished the first three of the Poldark novels.

Enjoyed 'em.

I'd never have considered reading them if I'd not had the opportunity to read the first one for free on kindle, mainly because I shy away from romance-novels-made-into-a-long-running-TV-series.

Pity that.

Winston Graham wrote the first four novels as a series in the 1950's, and then returned to them in the 1970's and wrote another five.

I've read the first three only, because the fourth is not available on Kindle, and I simply can't afford to buy the fourth. I will seek it out at the library, though.

So. These are historical romance at the core, but meticulously researched and the time brought to life without any prettying up.

Graham explores the social divisions with a certain brutality, dwelling on the lack of rights among the poor classes, the child labour, the ignorance, the fear of the upper classes of losing their privilege.

While Graham does not skim over the deplorable, inhumane living conditions of the poorest, neither does he revel in it for the sake of shock. It is merely there, a fact of life, ordinary.

The lives of women are exposed with a very fine eye, and he does not shy away from exposing their utter dependence on the men in their lives - fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, nephews. They have no rights, and while they chafe privately, even this is self-curtailed because in their very bones they have accepted their place.

In the three books I read, there were three particularly important women through whom Graham was able to showcase many dimensions of the socio-cultural boundaries in which their lives were contained. He did this marvellously - frustrating me at times, for he does not at any time give a nod to modern sensibilities of feminism. He tells it like it was.

I think this is why I enjoyed the books so much. They are not 'romantic' at all, other than they depict relationships; but they are very real relationships, exploring power, loyalty, dependency, toxicity. And, of course, life for human beings is all about relationships - between friends, neighbours, enemies, the relationships between those who depend on each other for sheer survival.

His characters are wonderfully complex - and by this I don't mean that they've had complex lives for the sake of sensational writing, but that not a one of them is wholly good, or right, or moral, or admirable. They are all very vivid, and one can hate them, admire them, pity them, despise them in turn.

Cornwall of the late 1700's is brought to life most vividly; beautiful, yes, but also grey, and damp, and cold, the landscape wild but also ailing due to the mines and the smelters and the commencement of industrialisation.

The books are an analysis of human rights, in my view, a disclosure of how people lived that is not a dispassionate historian's highlighting of the facts, but a very human, humane, passionate, life-and-death reliving of those times through the lives of his protagonists.

I think Graham has been done a disservice by not being taken more seriously for his historical exactitude, and the dismissal of his books as romances.

I've enjoyed the first three very much, and I will seek out the remainder.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:07 am 
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Sounds interesting Impy. I remember my parents watching the TV series when I was a kid but I remember very little about it and what I do remember is muddle up with other period dramas like The Onedin Line.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:28 am 
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I never did see any of the mini-series, though it's not entirely true that I avoided book-to-mini series dramas - I enjoyed the BBC P & P with great delight, and still do. Never heard of The Onedin Line; don't know whether it was shown in Oz.

At that time Poldark was on, there had been a surfeit of mini-series which were not to my taste (the only titles I can recall now are The Thorn Birds and The Other Side of Midnight - the latter makes me wince just thinking about it), so I shied away from them as one burned. The little of Poldark I saw when flicking channels etc looked dramatic and rather grey, and I had already made up my mind. Very arrogant of me in my youth. :P

I'm wondering whether it has stood the test of time, and whether it would be worth watching, though I'm aware that book and film are two different worlds.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:09 am 
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I can lend you the remainder of the books, Imp - I'll bring them down for you next time I'm in Melbourne. :)

I liked the Winston Graham books somewhat better than the 1970s mini-series, though that's not to say I didn't enjoy that when I was a young and terribly romantic teenager. I think it was my first experience of books being subject to 'artistic licence' when being transferred to the screen. Once you got over the shock of that, it was a rollicking good yarn.

Apparently the BBC is all set to remake it. Might be interesting.

BTW, the ABC did show the Onedin Line...but it seemed to go on forever and ever and I lost interest before I'd even started watching it. Though I can remember the theme music (Khachaturian, I believe...)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:13 am 
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Yay! Thanks Sam.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:24 pm 
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Well, lookee here.

Kili plays Poldark!

http://www.clickonline.com/tv/aidan-turner-gets-a-new-period-show-bbc-renews-many-things/23476/

Quote:
In addition to the renewals, BBC One has commissioned several dramas including a new adaptation of 'Poldark'.

'Being Human' star Aidan Turner has been cast in the lead role of Ross Poldark, who returns to his beloved Cornwall in 1783 after fighting in the American War of Independence, only to discover nothing is the same as he left it.

Aidan said: "I'm very excited to play Ross Poldark for the BBC and it's obviously a huge challenge to honour the extraordinary character Winston Graham created and who Debbie Horsfield has brought new life to."

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:54 pm 
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Thanks for the news!

I'm a little ambivalent though; Aidan Turner is too handsome for the character. I'll have to trust that his acting ability will be able to overcome his looks.

I look forward to it!

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