Not long now, just ten more days or so until Ross Poldark officially crosses the ocean, and everyone can see exactly why some of us have been going on about him pretty much non-stop for weeks!
I remember the old series fondly and I do believe that Robin Ellis (the original Ross Poldark) might have been my very first crush. But there’s something about ‘70s – ‘80s period drama that makes it rather different from modern adaptations, and not necessarily in a good way. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the polyester costumes or the fact that they were filmed mostly on set rather than on location – but, for instance, although I really enjoyed Pride & Prejudice 1980 at the time, in my opinion it doesn’t hold a candle to P&P 1995 and 2005.
One major ingredient is certainly missing – the smouldering passion. They didn’t quite do smouldering in the olden days, and my-oh-my, how things have changed!
Those of you who have already seen the new Poldark series would probably agree with me: Aidan Turner can do smouldering for a living!
Especially when he portrays someone who has just come home from a long stretch in the American Wars (where he had acquired his rather interesting scar) – only to discover that the girl he’s madly in love with has just got engaged to his cousin (a subject very close to my heart at the moment, as I keep scribbling at my WIP). What could be better than a really, really bad love triangle?
Great scope for smouldering there and a good helping of ‘You can look, but you can’t touch’ and Aidan Turner plays his part to perfection! As to the fine art of brooding and its ultimate masters, while Mr. Darcy and Mr. Thornton still get my vote any day, I do believe Aidan Turner would be perfect for a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation. And I think it’s time for another one. 1995: check. 2005: check. Now where’s P&P 2015?
Sadly, even if someone’s thinking about making a new one, Aidan Turner is likely to be rather too busy to have a go at portraying Mr. Darcy. I understand that Poldark is going to run for several series, and I really can’t find it in me to complain about that!
I first heard about the remake when we were on holiday in Cornwall and I came across a local newspaper mentioning that they’ve been filming in the area, in the small village of Charlestown. It’s a gorgeous, unspoilt Georgian port, so it’s no surprise that it features in many period dramas that have anything to do with the sea. They used it in the original Poldark, in Moll Flanders, Rebecca and the adventures of the young midshipman-become-captain, Horatio Hornblower. Also, it was Portsmouth for Mansfield Park 1999, in the scenes where Mr. Crawford comes to see Fanny and meets her un-genteel relations.
This year it’s Truro – for the port scenes. The Truro High Street scenes (including the blooper showing a very modern burglar alarm 😀 ) were filmed a long way away, in Corsham, not far from Meryton (Lacock).
If you’re not in love with Cornwall already, there’s every chance you will be after an episode or two.
The scenery is breathtaking, especially the secluded coves and the billowing clouds.
(That is, if you can spare a glance for the scenery 😉 ).
The secluded coves have a lot to answer for, as does a certain inlet with crystal-clear water ;). Gorgeous as it is, the stretch of water in this photo isn’t the spot where Ross Poldark decides he could do with a swim (much like Mr. Darcy, only far less formally attired).
But let’s just skip the spoilers for now and have a look at some more photos.
Sunny days in Cornwall are beyond glorious…
… and gloomy days and restless seas put you in mind of shipwrecks and smugglers…
They really worked on me, those windswept beaches. As did Cotehele, an amazingly old manor house with a luxuriant garden, which was the inspiration for Landennis Manor in my own Cornish ‘cloak-and-dagger’, The Falmouth Connection.
As yet I haven’t visited the Poldark family home, Trenwith (Chavenage House in Gloucestershire) but it definitely goes on my bucket list, along with a day out on a real, old-style sailing ship. It must be such a thrill to hear the flapping of the mainsail overhead, the cry of seagulls and the splashing of the waves, just like in the days of daring explorers or of Jane Austen’s seafaring brothers.
Speaking of sea-journeys, this is a little excerpt from The Falmouth Connection, where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy go on a most romantic sailing trip:
* * * *
A cry of delight escaped her lips when the suddenly stronger breeze swelled the sails above, making them flap wildly as they trapped the welcome gust. The ropes grew taut, adding their hum to the muted tune of straining wood and the ship leaned windward, altering its course.
Instinctively, Darcy gripped the spokes to keep the wheel from spinning further than it should and the much-missed thrill coursed through him yet again, as the full power of the wind in perfect synergy with the man-made craft was channelled into his tightened muscles.
The primeval joy reminded him once more of long-gone days out sailing with his father, but flashing memories of those distant times paled before the glory of the moment: the all-powerful sea, the breeze – and her proximity. She was before him, between him and the helm, hands clasped alongside his on the well-worn wood, her back warm against his chest, her scent intoxicating.
The old Cornishman, the skipper, had willingly relinquished the ship’s wheel in his keeping and had made no comment other than a smirk half-lost in his greying beard when Darcy had chosen to share the privilege with his betrothed. He had left them to it and had withdrawn towards the bow alongside his crew, who were now going about their business tightening ropes and adjusting sails, with the odd covert glance up to the quarterdeck.
For once, this was insufficient deterrent and Darcy leaned closer, inhaling her sweet fragrance mingled with the salty air. She had long relinquished her bonnet and the strong breeze was blowing freely through her auburn tresses, ruffling them into an adorable tangle that swayed to and fro, in turns concealing and exposing the whiteness of her neck.
Temptation swelled like the high winds above them, wild and tantalising, until resistance became unthinkable. Impossible. He lowered his head to press his lips against the fragrant skin and sharp desire coursed through him as he felt her quiver at the touch. With a breathless gasp, she tilted her head sideways, aiding and abetting him in taking the delicious liberty. His lips drifted to the corner of her jaw, then slid further to find a small velvety earlobe. A soft sigh left her lips, sending his senses spinning wildly – just as the ship’s wheel might have done, had Darcy not tightened his grip on the spokes, as much to keep control of the craft as of himself.
“I love you,” he murmured against the creamy skin, then leaned back in a futile quest for sanity that was destined to be thwarted even before she let her head rest on his chest.
“As I love you,” he heard her whisper, and was thoroughly undone.
A blessing and a curse, this day together, alone but for a few weather-beaten Cornishmen!
Surprisingly – or perhaps not so much so, after their recent rapprochement – Mr. Bennet no longer felt compelled to shadow Darcy on the proposed outing. More surprisingly still, his views remained unaltered even when it had emerged that his second daughter and her betrothed were to sail alone.
Alone – and free. More so than ever. Not merely free from the constraints of convention or the reserve imposed by her family’s presence but one with glorious nature, feeling the sun on their skin, the wind in their faces, tasting life as it must have been before so-called civilisation had put its stamp upon it, to adulterate it into something tame and bland.
A man, a woman, before the open world in all its glory, answering to no one – just the call of the sea.
Yet the selfsame freedom had its insidious dangers. For one, it made it devilishly hard to countenance returning to everyday constraints. Moreover, it fuelled all manner of wishes and unleashed thoughts that were best held in check.
There was another month at least until the wedding. The banns would be called once they returned to Longbourn. A special licence could be obtained of course, but then there were those lengthy preparations to contend with, as Mrs. Bennet’s daily effusions claimed. Wedding clothes. Wedding breakfast. Invitations. Visits. Incursions to the warehouses. And the whole assortment of hindrances and delays – a curse on them all!
“Fitzwilliam?” her pensive voice drew him from his frustrated musings.
“Yes, my love?”
“I once heard it said that seafaring captains can read marriage vows. Is that true?”
Breath caught in his chest. What was she saying? His stark surprise melted into tenderness at the discovery that they were thinking the same thoughts, or at least thoughts that were to some extent related, he inwardly amended with a rueful smile. His chest swelled and fanciful imaginings took flight – then Darcy stopped the mad rush in its tracks, before he allowed himself to hope.
“I think so,” he cautiously offered. “On merchant ships, they can.”
“And is The Rashley a merchant ship?”
“Hardly,” he replied and forced out a chuckle.
“But Mr. Tregarrick is a seafaring captain.”
“Then can he marry us?”
“Elizabeth!” he whispered, then pulled himself together.
With a glance and a nod, he summoned the helmsman, who was quick to come and take on his duties, thus freeing Darcy from the suddenly cumbersome task of paying attention to anything but her. They left the quarterdeck and withdrew to lean against the starboard rail. Their eyes met – his questioning, hers smiling.
Before he could put his questions into words, Elizabeth spoke up:
“I would very much like to be married today, Fitzwilliam,” she said softly.
Her hands were clasped in his, and none could have said how they came to be there.
“I would,” she smiled again.
It was only with considerable effort that he resisted the wild urge to kiss her – especially when she playfully arched a brow:
“Unless you think me forward. If you would rather not – …”
She trailed off and Darcy retorted promptly and with feeling:
“You know there is nothing I want more!”
The role of the devil’s advocate was something he wholeheartedly resented, yet in good conscience he felt compelled to add:
“Still, I cannot vouch that having it performed by old Tregarrick would be in keeping with the law of the land…”
“We are not on land – but need I worry that you might be tempted to use this as an escape once we are ashore?”
“Minx,” he smiled and kept to banter, yet the concern was real. “Your father might very well ask for my head on a platter. I am not saying that it would not be worth it, but I imagine it defeats the purpose.”
“My father need not know,” Elizabeth replied, soberly this time. “No one need know. It shall be our secret. For everybody else’s benefit the wedding shall be held at Longbourn, yet you and I will know that we were united here and now, just off the very shores where we have reached our understanding.”
The beauty of the thought and of her exquisitely romantic choice touched his soul – but, bless her sweet innocence, did she not know what she was asking? Married – but not quite. In word, but not in deed. How was he to leave her – his wife – at Landennis tonight as if nothing had happened and return to his empty chamber at the inn in Falmouth?
“You do not wish it,” Elizabeth observed matter-of-factly and before any mistaken notions of rejection could take hold and pain her Darcy forced all selfish thoughts aside.
He would do anything for her, anything to make her happy – and by all that was holy, frustrated desire would not get in the way!
Darcy put an arm around her and called out:
“Mr. Tregarrick? A word, if it pleases you.”
The old sailor looked up from the bow.
“Would you be so kind to marry us?” Darcy asked, his voice carrying over the loud flapping of the mainsail.
The man’s bushy beard, thick enough to lose a ferret in, split widely into a toothless grin.
“Bless ye, m’ludd, Ah thort ye’d never ask!”
* * * *
Not quite sure about the legalities of marriage at sea in our time, so that idea never was on my bucket list.
So – what wild and wonderful ideas are on yours?