THE WORLD OF POLDARK by Emma Marriott. St. Martin’s Press (www.stmartins.com), 2015, 221 pp., $29.99. ISBN 978-1-250-10271-3. Click here to purchase.
PBS and Masterpiece have done it again.
Talk about being on a roll. While I’ve always been a fan of public television, at one time, that was pretty much relegated to a show or two: “Bless Me Father” and the “Vicar of Dibley” (no longer airing). Don’t forget the still-great “This Old House.”
But lately, I can’t even leave town on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday evenings are my favorite TV time. The shows abound: “Call the Midwife,” “Downton Abbey,” “Doc Martin,” “Home Fires,” “As Time Goes By,” “Victoria” and “Poldark,” and I’m sure I’m missing one of two. I can recant the Viking Riverboat cruise promo in my sleep. (Now, if I could only go on one!) And along the way, I’ve created a new fan: my husband, Andrew, who is still mourning the loss of episodes featuring Downton’s Matthew and Mary.
This coffee table edition of POLDARK, the companion book to the PBS masterpiece series, is luscious: for more reasons than just that not-half-bad-looking gentleman and rebel Ross Poldark on the cover. The photography is beautiful and the behind-the-scenes-story of the story, the location, the costumes and the actors is a history lesson in itself, rich with interesting information.
While the “good old days” seem grand in our minds, the reality is often far different. Life was not glamorous in Poldark’s time. The book, while focusing on the production, also delves into this fact, with history lessons of the times.
I’ve often referred to an author having “it”: that ability to create something spectacular. But “it” can be hard to explain, or it was until I read the foreword in this book. Screenwriter Debbie Horsfield, who has brought the Poldark novels to life, writes: “The narratives of the Poldark novels are multi-stranded with characters which are so beautifully drawn you feel they could actually walk into the room.” That is the gist of “it” and of every Masterpiece production.
I most likely would never have given Poldark or other British author’s books a second look. They’re often dry and seem stilted and downright boring. But in the right hands, they can be magic.
So there you have it. Magic. Poldark, an epic story exquisitely executed.
If you love history and you love Masterpiece, you’ll love Poldark and this book.