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Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790

Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790

4.6 11
by Winston Graham

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As Seen on Masterpiece™ on PBS®: Book 2 of the beloved Poldark series

In the enchanting second novel in Winston Graham's beloved Poldark series, Demelza Carne, an impoverished miner's daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground brawl, now happily finds herself his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage


As Seen on Masterpiece™ on PBS®: Book 2 of the beloved Poldark series

In the enchanting second novel in Winston Graham's beloved Poldark series, Demelza Carne, an impoverished miner's daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground brawl, now happily finds herself his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage and their love.

As Ross launches into a bitter struggle for the right of the mining communities, Demelza's efforts to adapt to the ways of the gentry (and her husband) place her in increasingly odd and embarrassing situations. When tragedy strikes and sows the seeds of an enduring rivalry between Ross and the powerful George Warleggan, will Demelza manage to bridge their differences before they destroy her and her husband's chance at happiness?

Against the stunning backdrop of eighteenth century Cornwall, Demelza sweeps readers into one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Season 2 of Poldark premieres Sunday, September 25, 2016 on PBS.

Product Details

Publication date:
Poldark Saga , #2
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
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File size:
1 MB

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

There could have been prophecy in the storm that blew up at the time of Julia's birth.

May month was not a time for heavy gales, but the climate of Cornwall is capri­cious as any child ever born. It had been a kindly enough spring, as kindly as the summer and winter that had gone before it; mild, soft, comfortable weather; and the land was already heavy with green things. Then May broke rainy and gusty, and the blossom suffered here and there and the hay leaned about looking for support.

On the night of the fifteenth, Demelza felt her first pains. Even then for a while she gripped the bedpost and thought the matter all round before she said anything. All along she had viewed the coming ordeal with a calm and philosophical mind and had never troubled Ross with false alarms. She did not want to begin so late. Last evening she had been out in her beloved garden, digging round the young plants; then as it was going dark she had found a disgruntled hedgehog and had played with him, trying to persuade him to take some bread and milk, and had only come in reluctantly as the sky clouded and it went cold.

This now-this thing in the middle of the night-might yet be only the result of getting overtired.

But when it began to feel as if someone was kneeling on her backbone and trying to break it, she knew it was not.

She touched Ross's arm and he woke instantly.


"I think," she said, "I think you will have to fetch Prudie."

He sat up. "Why? What is it?"

"I have a pain."

"Where? Do you mean..."

"I have a pain," she said primly. "I think twould be as well to fetch Prudie."

He climbed quickly out of bed, and she listened to the scratch of flint and steel. After a moment the tinder caught and he lit a candle. The room flickered into view: heavy teak beams, the curtain over the door moving gently in the breeze, the low window seat hung with pink grogram, her shoes as she had kicked them off, one wooden sole upmost, Joshua's spyglass, Ross's pipe, Ross's book, and a fly crawling.

He looked at her and at once knew the truth. She smiled a pallid apology. He went across to the table by the door and poured her a glass of brandy.

"Drink this. I will send Jud for Dr. Choake." He began to pull on his clothes, anyhow.

"No, no, Ross; do not send yet. It is the middle of the night. He will be asleep."

Whether Thomas Choake should be called in to her had been a dissension between them for some weeks. Demelza could not forget that twelve months ago she had been a maidservant and that Choake, though only a physician, owned a small estate which, even if it had been bought with his wife's money, put him on a level from which the likes of her would be seen as unimportant chattels. That was until Ross married her. Since then she had grown to her position. She could put on a show of refinement and good manners, and not at all a bad show at that, but a doctor was different. A doctor caught one at a disadvantage. If the pain was bad, she would almost certainly swear in the old way she had learned from her father, not a few genteel "damn mes" and "by Gods," as anyone might excuse from a lady in trouble. To have a baby and be forced to act genteel at the same time was more than Demelza could look forward to.

Besides, she didn't want a man about. It wasn't decent. Her cousin-in-law, Elizabeth, had had him, but Elizabeth was an aristocrat born and bred, and they looked at things different. She would far rather have had old Aunt Betsy Triggs from Mellin, who sold pilchards and was a rare strong hand when it came to babies.

But Ross was the more determined and he had had his way. She was not unprepared for his curt, "Then he shall be woke," as he left the room.

"Ross!" She called him back. For the moment the pain had gone.

"Yes?" His strong, scarred, introspective face was half lit by the candle; the upgrowing dark hair was ruffled and hardly showed its hint of copper; his shirt was open at the throat. This man...aristocrat of them all, she thought...this man, so reserved and reserving, with whom she had shared rare intimacy.

"Would you?" she said. "Before you go..."

He came back to the bed. The emergency had come on him so quickly in his sleep that he had had no time yet to feel anything but alarm that her time was here and relief that it might soon be over. As he kissed her he saw the moisture on her face and a worm of fear and compassion moved in him. He took her face in his hands, pushed back the black hair, and stared a moment into the dark eyes of his young wife. They were not dancing and mischievous as they so often were, but there was no fear in them.

"I'll be back. In a moment I'll be back."

She made a gesture of dissent. "Don't come back, Ross. Go and tell Prudie, that's all. I'd rather-you didn't see me like this."

"And what of Verity? You specially wanted Verity here."

"Tell her in the morning. Tisn't fair to bring her out in the night air. Send for her in the morning."

He kissed her again.

"Tell me that you love me, Ross," she said.

He looked at her in surprise.

"You know I do!"

"And say you don't love Elizabeth."

"And I don't love Elizabeth." What else was he to say when he did not know the truth himself? He was not a man who spoke his inmost feelings easily, but now he saw himself powerless to help her, and only words of his and not actions would give her aid. "Nothing else matters but you," he said. "Remember that. All my relatives and friends-and Elizabeth, and this house and the mine...I'd throw them in the dust and you know it-and you know it. If you don't know it, then all these months I've failed and no words I can give you now will make it otherwise. I love you, Demelza, and we've had such happiness. And we're going to have it again. Take hold of that, my sweet. Hold it and keep it, for no one else can."

"I'll hold it, Ross," she said, content because the words had come.

He kissed her again and turned and lit more candles, took up one, and went quickly out of the room, the hot grease running over his hand. The wind had dropped since yesterday; there was only a breeze. He did not know the time, but it felt about two.

He pushed open the door on the other side of the landing and went across to the bedroom where Jud and Prudie slept. The ill-fitting bedroom door opened with a long squeak, which merged into Prudie's slow rasping snore. He grunted in disgust, for the hot, close, sweaty smell offended his nose. The night air might be dangerous, but they could surely open the window during the day and let this stink out.

He went across and parted the curtains and shook Jud by the shoulders. Jud's two great teeth showed like gravestones. He shook again, violently. Jud's nightcap came off and a spot of the candle grease fell on his bald patch. Jud woke. He began to curse; then he saw who it was and sat up rubbing his head.

"What's amiss?"

"Demelza is ill." How call her anything but Demelza to a man who had been here when she came as a tattered waif of thirteen? "I want you to go for Dr. Choake at once. And wake Prudie. She will be wanted too."

"What's amiss with her?"

"Her pains have begun."

Meet the Author

Winston Graham was the author of forty novels. His books have been widely translated and his famous series has been developed into two television series shown in 24 countries. Winston Graham was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 1983 was awarded the OBE.

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Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great reads and escapism, only thing I don't understand is why B&N hasn't made the rest of the series available. I would love to keep going. Winston Graham wrote 40 books, why aren't they available?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband and I watched this series of adventures on Public Television many years ago. Done by the BBC it was enchanting. We hardly could wait for each episode each Sunday and we are not TV series people. Later I found several of the books but have since moved with the military too many times and have lost them again. This series would be good for young to middle teens as well. Charming characters and good plots plus lots of humor.
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
Demelza, A Novel of Cornwall: 1788-1790,  Winston Graham Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews  Genre:  Women's Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult) I adored this series when I first read it back in the seventies, sparked by the TV series. Now its been revised with new actors for TV, and of course the books released on Kindle! Hurrah. I’ve still got my print books, a mix of new and charity shop/eBay/library rejects, but due to loss of vision can’t read such small text now, so it’s been a joy to catch up with the Poldark corner of Cornwall and it’s characters.  The focus this time is on Demelza and how she’s coping with her new position as Ross’ wife. She’s just given birth to their first child and right from the start we see how she is struggling, wanting to fit in with Ross’ place in Society, but still feeling more at home with her former peers. Luckily Ross is at ease with, and respected by them. Verity, his cousin from Trenwith, proves a great help in teaching Demelza how to behave, how to dance, and with sorting out her wardrobe. Demelza comes to love her, she has such an open heart and is so upset when she learns of Verity's failed romance. Of course she can’t help “helping” and causes a huge row from the consequences.  We see too more of the villagers, the tragedy of Mark Daniels and Keren, his flirtatious wife, the mines and the miners and the sheer poverty of life then, how desperate things were for so many families when the mine Grambler closed. It really brings home how hand to mouth living was in those days. There’s snippets of the politics of the era too. Ross is trying to move forward, to make life more secure for his wife and child, and along the way doing what he can to provide work for the locals. Unlike so many in his position he understands them and has sympathies. These bring him into the public eye when he breaks out one of his employees from prison. Poor Jim Carter had gone poaching to feed his family and been caught. Sentenced to two years despite Ross effort’s he’s ill in prison, then he’s transferred to another which is even more dire and full of fever. Ross tries to help but...well, read it and you’ll see ;-) It shows just how compassionate he could be, a fair man, a moral man and so often, as with this event, that brings him on the opposite side to his peers. Its a thin line he treads, and at the end, after an awful personal tragedy he’s facing judgement from them for his actions over something else.  Its a hard book to review as there’s just so much going on. It builds on what’s gone before though, and its easy to follow. Its a fascinating read, and who can’t resist Ross, especially now we’ve the vision of Aiden Turner from the TV series to mull on and swoon over!! It shows us too just how changed Demelza is, how bright to be able to absorb so much learning, to adapt and try to fit in, and of course the passion between the two. They do have some huge blow-ups here, but at the heart of it is a solid enduring love. There’s some real sadness in this book, and when I first read it, ahead of the TV series ( hooked from the first episodes I had to read the first four books which were already out) I was caught by surprise and reduced to tears by one particular part.  If you’re looking for a solid romance, and a story full of history, fabulous characters and realism this series is perfect.     Stars: Five, another fabulous read for keeping and rereading.  ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers  
shanbritts More than 1 year ago
One of three of the series - I can tell you that even as of today I still think of this book and the people in it. This book will allow you to come into the lives of the story and you will feel as though you are living amoung them - I wish there had been books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DianaH-Maine More than 1 year ago
I recently read Winston Graham’s POLDARK and DEMELZA. These titles are part of a series written by Mr. Graham about a Cornish family spanning the years 1783-1820. Ross Poldark returns home to Cornwall after a 2 year stint in the British Army fighting in the ‘colonies’ during the American War of Independence. He returns home to his father’s death; an estate in a ruined state; his ‘intended’, Elizabeth, engaged to his cousin, Francis; a depressed economy and poverty for the miners, fishermen and farmers of the region; and rumors of his own demise in America. The story includes copper mining, unethical banking and politics, marrying, family strife, smuggling, poaching, class inequalities, the natural beauty of Cornwall, elopement, epidemic, death, treachery, deceit, duels and sea captains. The books subtlely overpower your life. You are totally engaged in the lives, the struggles, the passions of these characters. I was first aware of this series in the 1970s. I was reading Daphne du Maurier who used Cornwall as a backdrop to several of her brilliant novels. Winston Graham was mentioned in several book lists as another excellent Cornish author. Before I read any of Mr. Graham’s novels, his first 4 Poldark novels were adapted as a BBC TV series running from 1975 to 1977. Masterpiece Theatre broadcast the series in the U.S. in 1976 through 1978. I fell immediately in love - with Cornwall, with Ross Poldark (and with Robin Ellis, the actor who portrayed Ross Poldark), with Demelza Carne, Verity and all the characters. (Well, not the Warleggans!) There is presently a fresh production of the Poldark saga on the BBC and Masterpiece Classic in the U.S. It is just as stunning as the first and I find myself falling in love all over again. Winston Graham lived in Cornwall for 30+ years and his historical Poldark series presents (quite accurately) the wildly fluctuating economic fortunes of the region. Mr. Graham wrote 12 Poldark novels over a span of 40+ years, the last title published in 2002, a year before his death. He wrote many other novels, plays and short stories. His novels are a fantastic read and I plan a Poldark reading marathon this winter. Thank you, Mr. Graham, the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre.
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