Book review: The World of Poldark by Emma Marriott

The World of Poldark byEmma Marriott
The World of Poldark byEmma Marriott
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As excitement begins to mount for the second series of BBC’s Poldark next year, here is the perfect gift for fans of the ravishing Cornish drama.

This lavishly illustrated companion book gets behind the scenes with the crew and cast, explores the adventure and romance of Winston Graham’s thrilling novels, uncovers production secrets and fascinating facts about 18th century English history, and relives memorable moments from the first successful series.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is the chance to get up close to Irish actor Aidan Turner who is making female hearts flutter in his leading role as the smouldering, unconventional hero Ross Poldark who has returned to his land and his family in Cornwall in 1783 after fighting in the American War of Independence.

Writer and editor Emma Marriott’s The World of Poldark is the ultimate guide to the popular series, allowing us to experience the great houses and the glorious landscapes and follow the cast of characters as their stories play out against the backdrop of Cornwall’s wild beauty.

Manchester-born Winston Graham, who died in 2003 at the grand old age of 95, was the author of more than forty novels but it was the captivating 12-book Poldark family saga, written between 1945 and 2002, which won him worldwide fame.

The late 18th and early 19th centuries were a time of huge social change as revolutions in America and France caused the British working classes to question their extreme poverty, and the aristocracy to fear the loss of their wealth and privilege.

England, and especially Cornwall, was marked by social unrest and a deep division between rich and poor. It was a place of tin mines and shipwrecks, of new money versus old, of harsh justice and great kindness.

The onset of social and political reforms, along with time spent pondering the rugged beauty of the landscape when he worked as a coastguard in Cornwall during the Second World War, were the inspiration for Graham’s much-loved novels.In her foreword to this magnificent book, Debbie Horsfield, screenwriter and executive producer of the current BBC series, says

Graham’s stories are epic in their sweep and exquisitely detailed in the creation of the characters’ world, dealing with compelling themes like ambition, rivalry, betrayal, family and love.And as well as interviews with the actors, behind the scenes insights and in-depth information on costumes, props and locations, Marriott includes historical gems like first-hand accounts of Cornwall by 18th century travellers, duelling’s code of honour, workhouse facts, the rise in social mobility and the grim realities of working in a tin mine.

The World of Poldark is a glorious celebration of Graham’s ever-popular novels, the stunning BBC TV adaptation and breathtaking Cornwall, a land of excitement, rugged beauty and eternal romance.

(Macmillan, hardback, £20)