Book review: Poldark: The Angry Tide by Winston Graham

As the BBC's lavish production of Poldark gets set to hit our screens again for the much-anticipated fourth series, enjoy a second helping of this dazzling Cornish drama by reading Winston Graham's universally loved original novels.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 3:13 pm
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 3:16 pm
Poldark: The Angry Tide by Winston Graham
Poldark: The Angry Tide by Winston Graham

The Angry Tide, published in paperback by Pan to tie in with the sizzling TV production, is the seventh novel in Graham’s groundbreaking 12-book series which began in 1945 and ended in the 1970s. The first six books are also available from Pan.

Debbie Horsfield , scriptwriter for the new television phenomenon starring Aidan Turner, has revealed that series four will draw on the final third of Winston Graham’s sixth Poldark book The Four Swans, and all of book seven, The Angry Tide.

Graham, who died in 2003, was the author of more than 40 novels, including Marnie, a nail-biting psychological thriller which was brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchcock in 1964.

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But it was the gripping and romantic Poldark family series, set in the rugged wilds of Cornwall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which won him critical acclaim and fame across the world. The first seven books were adapted by the BBC in a series broadcast between 1975 and 1977.

The Poldark books are set during 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.

At the heart of the series is British Army officer Ross Poldark who returned to his land and his family in Cornwall in 1783 after fighting in the American Revolution. But the joyful homecoming he had anticipated turned sour when he discovered that Elizabeth Chynoweth, the woman he hoped to marry, was to wed his cousin Francis Poldark.

Ross’s father died while he was away and the property he inherited had been allowed to deteriorate. But his sympathy for the destitute miners and farmers of the district led him to rescue Demelza Carne, a half-starved urchin girl, and marry her. However, turbulent events have tested both their marriage and their love.

The Angry Tide takes up the story in the last years of the 18th century as Ross Poldark sits for the borough of Truro as Member of Parliament. His time is divided between London and Cornwall while his heart remains divided about his wife Demelza.

Elizabeth is now married to Ross’s nemesis George Warleggan and the old feud between the two men still flares, as does the illicit love affair between Morwenna Chynoweth and Drake Carne, Demelza’s brother.

But before the new century dawns, George and Ross will be drawn together by a loss greater than their rivalry… and Morwenna and Drake by a tragedy that brings them hope.

Steeped in humour, romance, passion, tragedy and the stunning Cornish landscape, the Poldark books are as exciting and fresh as they are timeless and memorable. The perfect accompaniment to the thrilling TV series!

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)