Poldark: The Stranger from the Sea by Winston Graham: Steeped in humour, romance, passion, tragedy and the stunning Cornish landscape - book review -

Poldark: The Stranger from the Sea
Poldark: The Stranger from the Sea
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The Stranger from the Sea, which continues the story where the current TV series ends, opens in Cornwall in 1810 where the Poldark family awaits the return of Ross from his mission to Wellington’s army in Portugal.

As the BBC’s lavish production of Poldark hits our screens for the fifth and final season, why not read beyond the lines of the television script and enjoy the gloriously romantic stories in their entirety in Winston Graham’s rich and vividly detailed books.

The Stranger from the Sea and The Miller’s Dance, out now in paperback from Pan, are the eighth and ninth novels of Graham’s groundbreaking 12-book series which began in 1945 and ended in the 1970s.

The current eight-episode BBC series, starring Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as his wife Demelza, focuses on the years between the seventh book, The Angry Tide, and the eighth book, The Stranger From the Sea.

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

It was 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.

The books, with their gripping blend of romance, drama, unforgettable characters and beautifully evocative portrayal of Cornwall, follow the life of the brooding, principled Ross Poldark, a young man who returns from the American Revolutionary War to find his father dead, his copper mine failing and his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful Elizabeth Chynoweth, engaged to his cousin.

Romance, intrigue, betrayal, and one of the most heartbreaking love triangles in modern fiction ensue as Ross falls in love with the charming Demelza and tries to build a better world for her and their children whilst fighting his arch-enemy, the swaggering and ruthless financier, George Warleggan.

The Stranger from the Sea, which continues the story where the current TV series ends, opens in Cornwall in 1810 where the Poldark family awaits the return of Ross from his mission to Wellington’s army in Portugal.

But their ordered existence ends with Jeremy Poldark’s dramatic rescue of the stranger from the sea. Stephen Carrington’s arrival in the Poldark household changes all their lives. For Clowance and Jeremy in particular, the children of Ross and Demelza, Stephen’s advent is the key to a new world, one of both love and danger.

And the ninth book, The Miller’s Dance, picks up the story in 1812 at Nampara where the Poldark family finds the New Year brings involvement in more than one unexpected venture. For Ross and Demelza there is some surprising – and worrying – news. And Clowance, newly returned from her London triumphs, finds that her entanglement with Stephen Carrington brings not only happiness but also heartache.

As the armies battle in Spain, and the political situation at home becomes daily more obscure, the Poldark and Warleggan families find themselves thrust into a turbulent new era as complex and changing as the patterns of The Miller's Dance.

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, and the perfect antidote for those who will be mourning the end of the smash-hit TV series.

(Pan, paperback, £8.99 each)