Review: Warleggan

This fourth book in the Poldark series is really about Dwight and Caroline’s affair and the almost-breakup of Ross and Demelza over Elizabeth, rather than George Warleggan.

After Francis’s failed suicide attempt he tries to pass an olive branch to Ross to make amends on his deceit and involvement in the failure of Ross’s Carnmore Copper Company, by sinking his last £600 into a mine as a joint venture. The venture fails and Francis dies horribly inside the mine. Meantime, Elizabeth has confessed to Ross that she had always had feelings for him and she regretted having married Francis. Demelza’s female intuition picks up warning at that fateful dinner when they are all last together.

When Francis dies suddenly Elizabeth is free and Ross is thrown into confusion what he should do about the confession of love Elizabeth had made and he deals with it in his typical Ross fashion by ignoring it and seeing as little of Elizabeth as possible. Without a husband to bring in income Elizabeth’s fortunes dwindle and into the void steps in opportunistic and rich George offering her marriage and comforts for the rest of her days.

Ross feels guilty and sells his share in the mine and returns the £600 to Elizabeth to tide her over. With the mine’s failure, Ross and Demelza face the real threat of debtors prison and even their smuggling money dries up when the smuggling operation gets caught by the customs and excise men. On the same night the smugglers get caught, Dwight and Caroline had planned to elope and Dwight makes a fateful choice to save his friend Ross and the community from prison and stands up Caroline who leaves Cornwall and Dwight for good.

At the very last-minute, Ross is saved by a mystery benefactor who stops him and his family from reaching poverty and debtors prison. News suddenly comes to him that Elizabeth will marry George and he rushes headlong to Trenwith in the middle of the night and rapes her. This effectively breaks up any illusion he had about Elizabeth his first love and breaks the relationship with her for good and simultaneously also break his relationship with Demelza, his wife. Demelza tries to get her revenge by going to a ball by herself and encourages a tryst with the handsome soldier who tried to arrest Ross for smuggling, but she just can’t lower herself to sleep with him at the last minute and returns to Ross. Demleza and Ross have a strained relationship for months where neither speaks of what happened.

It’s a testing time for both Dwight and Caroline as well as Ross and Demelza but all works out well for both couples after much trouble. George really is the only one who has a smooth journey in this book when he finally marries his prized possession Elizabeth, the most beautiful woman in Cornwall, and moves himself into the Poldark ancestral home Trenwith and renovates it beyond recognition into another gaudy Warleggan house.

This is the most action packed book so far of the series and casts Ross is poor light with his action towards Elizabeth. He redeems himself in the end when he reunites Caroline and Dwight.


Review: Sins of the Night

This book is as raunchy as the title suggests. The story is about Alexion/Ias who is Acheron’s lieutenant and about the Dark Hunter Dangereuse an ex-aristocrat from the French Revolution.

Alexion is a character that has rarely come up in the other stories in the Dark Hunter series.

Alexion is sent by Acheron on a mission to stop the evil Stryker’s plot to create a Dark Hunter uprising against Acheron. All does not go to plan when he falls in love with Danger.

My favourite character Simi makes a cameo appearance and we first come across her sister Charonte demon Ximera who is equally interesting with their endearing fascination with the shopping channel QVC.

Review: Harry Potter The Prequel

Since I read the sequel to the Harry Potter series, I thought I’d finish the lot by also reading the short story prequel. This is literally a snapshot of James and Sirius on the flying motorbike being chased by muggle police.

Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

I’d seen this book in a bookshop last year but was put off reading a play as opposed to a novel. I also didn’t want the seven book Harry Potter series continued. I felt the story had concluded at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts followed by an epilogue of the adult Harry Hermione and Ron sending their kids off on the Hogwarts Express (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). At the time the author had promised she wouldn’t extend the story any further. Yet she did. I thought this sequel might ruin the story by dragging it out to death just to increase the franchise revenue. So it’s taken me some time to finally get around to downloading the book on Kindle and giving it a go.

The first thing I’d say is the play format is off-putting to read. The characters are shallow and the story moves with breakneck speed at the beginning. I’m sure this story is better performed with actors adding depth and emotions to the characters. The age of Harry in this story is 40. He was born in 1981. This story seems to be set in the present day but the numbers don’t add up, the story is actually set in 2021!

Harry has grown into a neglectful parent focused on his work, with a middle child Albus Severus Potter, the cursed child. It’s hard being a middle child and it’s harder being the child of a famous wizard. The child would always fall short of expectations. Everyone under-estimated Harry when he was a child. His fame coming from surviving a killing curse that killed his parents. He was a curiosity but no one expected him to be the saviour of the world.

Albus feels the bar is set very high, especially as his father is a high up Ministry official. Albus reacts badly and crumbles under the pressure and rebels by choosing to go to Slytherin house instead of Gryffindor at Hogwarts and befriending Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius. Albus tries to be a hero and that is where the problems begin. He travels back in time to save Cedric Diggory and he effectively undoes everything Harry did to save the world from Voldemort and recreates a dark parallel reality where Harry and his allies lose the Battle of Hogwarts and the world that follows is ruled by Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Albus himself doesn’t exist in that reality, since Harry is dead.

This two-part play deal with the situation. Apparently the actual play runs over two days. Someone told me it was a good.

Review: The Glittering Court

The Glittering Court was partly what I expected from the title and partly not.

It’s very different from the Vampire Academy series and its offshoot that the author is famous for.

This story is set in the equivalent of puritan times in an alternate reality. Osfrid is like old world England in the 17th century and Adoria is like the new world of America (or Australia) at the time. Settlers had gone across to the new world colony and were fighting off the natives, establishing settlements and trying to make their fortunes, usually by gold mining.

Catholics in 17th century England were still being persecuted and had to worship in secret. Many escaped to America and other places to be able to worship in open. The Alanzan heretical religion referenced in this book is the equivalent religion and it comes up a few times as there is a settlement in the new territory country Adoria that practiced religious tolerance.

The protagonist is a Countess in Osfrid whose family has run out of cash and she is expected to enter into an arranged marriage with some blue blood cousin to preserve the title and nobility. Entrapped in her stifling upper class world she escapes her home under the identity of her maid one night and enters The Glittering Court, a get-rich-quick business venture set up by an unscrupulous man who trains up working class girls how to behave as ladies and ships them to Adoria to sell as high-class brides. Over in Adoria the settlers are mainly men who are starved of female company. Think of Jamestown in America in the 17th century when women from England were shipped to be their mail-order brides. It’s essentially the same story. The girls don’t mind being used in the venture as it’s an opportunity to improve their lives without the circumstance of their birth or class holding them back. The new world is a level playing field for a new nouveau riche nobility to surface built on fortunes from gold mining.

Of course things don’t go to plan for our run-away countess. The other girls start to get suspicious why she can’t cook, sew or do the basics a lady’s maid should be able to. When the girls pass their Finishing School training they are shipped over to Adoria and a whirlwind of parties to show them off like cattle to be bought. Our countess is pursued relentlessly by the governor’s son and his mother who turn out not to be as they initially appear. Meanwhile an unsuitable romance blossoms and our Countess finds herself running away again to the wild west on a gold finding mission and living in a handmade shack, a far cry from her former lives in Adoria and at the Glittering Court.

The love triangle between the countess, her love interest and the rich governor’s son comes to a head. But things do eventually end happily after the usual number of troubles are overcome. 😉

Review: Jeremy Poldark

The name of the book Jeremy Poldark doesn’t mean the book is about him. He just gets born at the end of the book.

Book 3 in this Poldark series starts with Ross’s darkest moment when he faces trial by hanging for inciting smuggling by several Cornish villages of the Warleggan ships at the end of book 2 (Demelza Poldark). Against the odds he survives the trial due to a sympathetic Cornish jury who understand that their residents were starving all winter and desperate for money and food from the shipwrecks.

Meanwhile Caroline Penvenan makes an entrance and an impression on young Dr Dwight Enys. He cures an ailment of hers and she repays him by buying cartloads of oranges for the cure of the scurvy outbreak in villages. It’s an impossible romance due to class difference and both know it. But will love find a way?

The feud between Francis and Ross because of Francis’ betrayal of Ross and the Carnmore Copper Company to George Warleggan carries on. Both Poldark cousins are in dire debts and not speaking to each other and George feels superior and poised to destroy the Poldark name.

Demelza’s and Verity’s persuasion finally gets the two Poldarks to talk to each other. But not before Francis’s depression over the situation leads him to make a suicide attempt.

Ross has his revenge on George unexpectedly when George tries to provoke him at a chance meeting and ends up in a punch-up. Ross being a soldier wins, leaving George physically beaten up.

Verity reconciles with her brother Francis over her elopement and has her own trial in meeting her new stepchildren.

Demelza and Ross’s marriage is under strain with both stonewalling after the death of their daughter Julia. Ross’s eyes turn back on to his first love, Elizabeth, who it turns out he had never gotten over.

Francis and Elizabeth’s marriage also appears to have fizzled out with both leading separate lives. Elizabeth tries her best to attract Ross back from Demelza and Demelza is aware of it. There’s nothing like a wife’s intuition to spot trouble and of course there’s a baby on the way and Ross has said he doesn’t want any more children since he’s still grieving for their dead daughter. Demelza can’t tell him about the pregnancy till it’s obviously showing.

Into this whirlpool of spiralling debts and secrets, Demelza and Ross pawn their belongings for cash to keep the bailiffs at bay. Just when Ross realises he escaped the hangman’s noose at the smuggling trial only to end up in Debtor’s prison, an offer is made by a former Carnmore Copper Company member for the use of Ross’s cove to land black market goods for a handsome sum of money. Does Ross take up the only chance of getting money and some independence from George?

Review: Midnight is a Lonely Place

When an ancient burial on an East Anglian beach is uncovered accidentally by a teenager, spirits of the buried are released to replay the trauma that led to their untimely deaths and seek revenge through possession of the teenager and her family, the book’s protagonist and her boyfriend. Neighbours and locals are drawn into the haunting which causes deaths, murder and injury in the modern time zone. As the book progresses the modern-day characters uncover that the burial was in fact a murder pit.

A Roman constable posted in Camulodunum (Colchester) with a young reluctant wife and their son settle down in the area and try to get on with the neighbouring British tribes. The young wife falls in love with a Trinovantes prince and a love triangle ensues which results with the Roman husband murdering the prince and his druid accomplices. His adulterous wife observes the treachery and commits suicide so she can die with her lover. The Roman lives on in revengeful triumph to survive Boudicca’s Trinovantean rampage against Roman rule in Colchester and is rewarded with land where the murder pit is buried in the marshes.

In modern times the sea has eroded the Roman time marshes and the burial pit is now under a sandy beach. The water uncovering the murdered bodies releases the spirits who latch on to the nearest human to draw energy (while draining the teenage girl and causing her to behave out of character).

Only in ghost stories do people act in silly ways! This book is no exception, in that the characters go to the beach at night in the middle of a snowy winter and get themselves engulfed in the Roman love triangle. They naturally don’t call the archaeologists or police which would be the obvious first thoughts of normal people upon discovering an ancient burial pit.

It’s a good story and educational about the history of the area, but several chapters are dedicated to the characters stupidity in wandering around in ones and twos on the beach, in the woods and snowy tracks, usually in the dark and pursued by vengeful ghosts and going out of their minds with fear, which got irritating to read. Also the book is written in the 1990s yet none of the characters owns a mobile phone, but the writer has a laptop which uses floppy disks. All the cars are old and on their last legs. The technology is a bit muddled. The phone lines get cut off in the bad weather and no one is able to call the ambulance, police or get help from neighbours without walking in the dark. The ghosts also manage to move a car from the cottage all the way on top of a dune surrounded by water on the beach. They leave earth and maggots and can damage paintings, move boxes and upset shelves of books. I think there might be a few plot holes or less plausible parts in the overall story.

My opinion is that in the modern-day love triangle neither of the men are good for the female protagonist!

In Colchester Castle Museum there is a tombstone of a Roman centurion. The Roman husband character, Marcus Severus Secundus in the book is based on this statue.

Review: The True Queen

Another series about Henry the eighth’s wives. I read Elizabeth Chadwick’s versions, ‘Constant Princess’ in this case, portrays Katherine of Aragon more sentimentally at the beginning of her story when she comes to England is that she had been in love and consummated her marriage with Henry’s elder brother Arthur. She didn’t even notice 10 year old Henry at the beginning in Elizabeth Chadwick’s book.

In Alison Weir’s book, ‘Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen’, Katherine remains a virgin, Arthur is sickly and characterless from the start of and they have no relationship to speak of. Katherine is enamoured of the precocious Henry from early on in her arrival to England.

The different positioning at the beginning of Katherine’s story is important because Elizabeth Chadwick thinks that Katherine lies at her divorce trial and did have an incestuous relationship by sleeping with two brothers. Whereas Alison Weir thinks Katherine was telling the truth that she went to Henry as a virgin and their marriage was therefore legitimate and not incestuous.

Where the two books correlate ( and what is agreed amongst historians unanimously) is that Katherine is seen in middle age as being religiously fervent, obstinate about being Queen and that she thinks she is Henry’s wife till she dies, though he had in reality discarded her cruelly, divorced her, married Anne Boleyn and had Princess Elizabeth. He is also known to have been frustrated beyond endurance at Katherine’s obstinacy and letters. He was cruel to her because of that and also cruel to Mary and kept them separate because he was fearful of Katherine psychologically and politically manipulating teenage Mary.

Anne Boleyn is always portrayed through Katherine of Aragon’s eyes as her pernicious lady in waiting, having and losing her hold on Henry and being the sole cause of Katherine and her daughter Princess Mary’s downfall, ill-treatment and the breaking of the country away from Catholicism. Alison Weir is more sentimental about Katherine loving Henry to her death whereas, if I remember correctly, in Elizabeth Chadwick’s book Katherine uses sentimental words simply to win back her position as queen and be with Henry, rather than real feelings of love.

There is a dark side to Katherine’s character that comes across. Not only her willingness to be a martyr, but more chillingly make her only child Mary into a martyr for her mother’s cause too and obstruct Henry from having a male heir once she was aware that she was too old to give him more children. She simply didn’t grasp primogeniture in England and thought Mary could be a queen in her own right at that time in the same way her mother Queen Isabela of Castile was.

Katherine’s behaviour was her downfall in the end and I believe (even though it was a different set of values those days) that she could have lived more comfortably, lived longer to see Anne’s downfall and had been allowed to see her daughter Mary had she divorced gracefully or gone into a convent as Henry had wanted her to do. After all Anne of Cleaves a few years later divorced gracefully and had a generous settlement as a result of her flexibility and lived comfortably because she was not stubborn as Katherine ( and also didn’t love Henry or was fervent to be Queen of England). So it can’t be a ‘Tudor lady mind-set’ that made Katherine as stubborn as she was. It’s highly likely she was so stubborn because of her parental and environmental programming in Isabella and Ferdinand’s courts back in Spain. She was programmed to be ‘Katherine the Great’ and not being queen as a result of divorce was not part of the psychological programming. It’s possible she did love Henry. She was married to him the longest (more than 20 years) and saw him at his best in youth and optimism. All the other queens got Henry at his infamous worst.

Review: The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is the first book of a trilogy set in the Welsh borders at the turn of the twelfth century. William the Conqueror is dead and the throne of England and Normandy is shared between his brothers William Rufus and Robert Curthose. Rufus sits on the throne while Robert has gone off on crusade. At Rufus’s death, their youngest brother Henry (who had no inheritance) grabs the throne and declares himself king (Henry the first) before Robert can make it back to England from the Holy Land and claim his rightful crown.

The protagonist Guyon Fitzmiles is the Lord of Ledworth, a Norman lord on the Welsh border who is a long-time friend of Henry’s. In his twenties he marries a teenage bride of fifteen holding Ravenstow castle for a strategic alliance along the Welsh borders. Guyon has a Welsh mistress and has slept around with loads of women and his new wife Judith is the opposite of the kind of woman he is attracted to. She has strict ideas and is immature, undeveloped as yet and frightened. Political intrigue is rife in this era and our two protagonists are thrown into its midst and have to work as a team in the unstable welsh marches which have regular welsh raids as well as Judith’s avaricious and aggressive uncle nearby. With patience Guyon draws her out of her childhood and into becoming a confident woman and wife that surprises him.

A quirky character is Judith’s cat which sits wrapped around her shoulders. I’ve never seen a cat do that!

The other books in the trilogy are, The Running Vixen and The Leopard Unleashed

Review: Demelza

This second book takes the story from the birth of Ross and Demelza’s first child up till the shipwreck that feeds the starving miners. Ross forms a secret cooperative The Carnmore Copper Company with other leading men in Cornwall to push up the price of copper so that the mining communities won’t starve and be stuck in poverty or sent to the debt houses. The rift between Ross and George Warleggan starts here as Ross refuses to bank with the dominant Cornish Warleggan bank but goes to their smaller rival Pascoes Bank. Ross also discovers that George’s cousin has been cheating at cards and cheating men (including himself and Cousin Francis) out of a lot of money and he throws George’s cousin in the river ( a public humiliation during a party).

Meanwhile Dr Dwight Enys is introduced as a new character, and unlike the TV series he isn’t the same age and already a fried of Ross. In the book he is just out of medical school, whereas Ross is in his late twenties. Dwight befriends Ross and falls for a local miner’s gipsy wife and she gets killed by her cuckolded husband who has to flee to France to escape the authorities.

Demelza still in her teens, grows into becoming a lady and is the belle of the ball. Male gentry fawn over her, and Ross doesn’t notice or take the situation seriously. Demelza is sad to see Verity becoming an old spinster so she conspires to put Verity and Captain Blamey together, leading to Verity eloping, Francis falling out with Ross spectacularly and Francis spills the secret of who is in the Carnmore Copper Company to George. George sets about destroying the cooperative. This is the first strain on the marriage of Ross and Demelza. Elizabeth is the ongoing strain for Demelza always sees Elizabeth as a rival.

Ross has to borrow loans and is very far in debt after the company has been wound down. When one windy and rainy day in the middle of a harsh winter, an East India ship captained by Verity’s husband Blamey and owned by George is shipwrecked on Ross’s beach Nampara, he takes revenge by encouraging all the local miners and their families to loot the contents to keep starvation at bay. Then a second ship also gets wrecked and in the end about a thousand miners are looting the two ships and the constables start to suspect Ross.

This second book has a lot more action than the first and is quite gripping!