Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Old Loves...a passion for historical fiction

Be still my heart! Forty years have passed since Robyn Ellis graced the television screens on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre, portraying the dashing Captain Ross Poldark, returned from war with the Colonials. That was the beginning of a long standing love affair with historical fiction. A serious addiction, I must admit. And now, four decades later, BBC and PBS have resurrected the classic tale into another heart-stoppingly-beautiful series. And Aiden Turner is absolutely up to the task! I know, I know. For some people, history is boring. That’s because, they’ve never known the joys of a good story woven with rich characters, complex plot twists, and phenomenal cinematic backdrops. And costumes! Why, in the first episode alone, we see the urgency of battle, the loneliness of death and transition, and the cold truth about life in rural Cornwall in the late 18th century. We also are privy to the passion, the perseverance, and the promise of a life well lived. Aiden Turner (of BBC’s Being Human, and The Hobbit), is both roguish, and heroic as the man who inherits a ramshackle house and mine, and all the trials included in being a landowner at the close of the Revolutionary war. It would be so easy to be bought off, and escape to the gaming tables of London, but Ross decides that the higher road is to do something with the land, and with the people he feels connected to (not necessarily his own family). When he realizes the young person he has saved from a rowdy mob, has suffered beatings by her own family, he meets her reluctance to return home with a pragmatic job offer...and invites her dog, too. Now, truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have read Winston Graham’s novels at age eleven, if not for that original show, so long ago. And had I not read those books, I might not have flirted with Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, The Brontes, Mary Stewart, Theodore Dreiser, etc (my little black book of titles is full). To this day, I relish curling up in bed, next to a thick, leather-bound book, with a remote control in my hand. I can live in the pages until the words blur, then take a break to watch any episode which has costumes, horses, or stories that include a bit of the past with a hope for a future. Face it, I was and am a historical-fiction harlot.