Thank you to Aurora Publicity for an advance reader copy of Journey From Skioria in exchange for this review! 

Need a nice and easy fantasy escape for your kids? Journey From Skioria by Kandi J. Wyatt might be the answer. The story opens on Tania, a young girl who is mysteriously lost at sea during a storm and wakes up to find herself in another world. The adults are the size of children and everyone lives in trees and berry bushes. Tania feels scared and uncertain, but the people of Skioria quickly determine to help her back to her parents. But along the way, Tania realizes that she’s gained somewhat of a second family in this strange new place. Can she remain a part of both worlds, or must she give up one to keep the other? And that’s not to mention the many obstacles that must be overcome to reach her parents again. 
Photo Credit: Amazon

I’d recommend this book for young grade school readers. For adults, it can feel disjointed and a bit slow, but friendship, magic, and adventure are at the center from start to finish and will entertain many a young reader. I enjoyed seeing Tania slowly realize that she has two families in two separate worlds and wrestle to figure out how to keep them both. I do think that the author could have done more to develop that struggle and grow her as a character as well as the other characters. I thought most of them were a bit under-developed by the end and most of the conflicts were resolved a little too quickly. But the question of how the group would be able to keep each other as friends was an overall good one that kept the story going. Tania and her friends have a generally good and straightforward adventure that many children will enjoy! 

Journey From Skioria was released earlier this month and is now available on Amazon or wherever books are sold. Thank you again to Aurora Publicity for an advance reader copy of this work!
Can you believe 2017 is more than half over?! Yeah, me neither. But let me just tell you, 2017 has been a great year for my England-loving heart. I’ve encountered so many wonderful British gems that I’m now going to share with you. Unsurprisingly, these finds range from TV to news to personal life to bookishness. 

A new Pride and Prejudice is in the works 
Yes, it’s happening, friends! Read the full story here! It’s been twelve years since Joe Wright’s gorgeous adaptation of Austen’s classic, so it’s clearly high time for someone new to step up to the plate. ;) The fact that the people behind Victoria and Poldark are taking it on makes me even more excited. I’m ready with my tea and crumpets already.

Victoria
Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert in Mammoth Screen's new drama "Victoria" (Photo Credit: Masterpiece PBS on Facebook)

This show by Mammoth Screen stepped into Downton Abbey’s time slot on PBS earlier this year and wow, did it deliver! Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes are positively electric and charming as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Less is popularly known about the early phases of Victoria’s life and reign, but these two are bringing them to delightful life, brilliantly undergirded by Daisy Goodwin’s writing. She’s spent hundreds of hours poring over Queen Victoria’s now publicly available diary entries and it clearly shows in the drama’s historical detail and its deep exploration of Victoria and Albert’s relationship. Plus, the costumes and design take my breath away in nearly every frame. Approximately every two minutes I change my mind about my favorite dress of Victoria’s and maybe every two seconds my heart goes all fluttery at Prince Albert’s deep German drawl. Bring it on, Season 2! 


The Crown 
And while we’re on the subject of British monarchs, this Netflix original show about young Queen Elizabeth II is literally winning television this year. I think it’s been nominated for what, 13 Emmy Awards now? New ones could seriously be made up for John Lithgow’s performance of Winston Churchill and for Peter Morgan’s writing. Those are the two aspects of this show that consistently floored me as I watched it.
Claire Foy as Elizabeth II in Netflix's "The Crown" (Photo Credit: The Crown on Facebook)

Two scenes in particular come to mind when I think about Morgan’s exquisite writing for The Crown. The first is a tense exchange between Elizabeth and her high-spirited sister Margaret. They consider how their father’s relationship with them continues to affect their adult lives, and despite their personality clashes, they each seem to glimpse the trials that Elizabeth’s unexpectedly early rise to the throne has placed on the other. And the second is a conversation between Churchill and the artist painting his portrait. With so many hours of painting and sitting, barriers between the two men drop in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise, and viewers receive a poignant hint of the turbulence and tragedy behind the steely politician the world knew as Winston Churchill. 


Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s deliveries of Elizabeth and Philip are also as riveting as they’re relatable – the viewer loves them both and hardly knows who to sympathize with more when they encounter the inevitable conflicts of life as a married couple within a royal family steeped in tradition and expectation. All that to say, if you’re slightly less old-fashioned than I am but would still be interested in a little British history and excellent drama, The Crown is definitely a good choice.

New Northanger Abbey Audio Drama by Audible
THIS. THIS, my friends! My favorite Austen hero changes frequently, but Henry Tilney is firmly in first place right now thanks to Jeremy Irvine’s deliciously teasing and masculine voice for him in this audio drama. But seriously, this is a charming rendition of Jane Austen’s most clearly satirical work. The characters somehow seem more vibrant even than their film counterparts because of the delightful voice cast here. Ella Purnell’s Catherine Morland speaks with the appropriate sweet earnestness and innocence, while Lily Cole’s loud, syrupy drawl lends the perfect mix of charm and insincerity we’d expect of Isabella Thorpe. It’s also lovely to hear Eleanor Tomlinson in the part of Eleanor Tilney – my Poldark-loving heart is always warmed to see dear Demelza in fun roles. But the crowning jewel of the production is of course Emma Thompson as Jane Austen/the narrator. She takes the reader into every extreme of Catherine’s turbulent teenage emotions, making the comedy funnier, the disappointments stronger, and the triumphs happier. 

A Poldark Coloring Book 
First of all, if you love Poldark and haven’t been following PoldarkDish, do yourself a favor and go watch all of their recaps NOW. I look forward to them almost as much as the show itself. Even the behind-the-scenes crew of Poldark found the lovely ladies of PoldarkDish and the Anglophile Channel so amusing that they invited them to be extras in Season 3. Sweet Marlise and Elyse came back with a whole bunch of Aidan Turner-signed merchandise for fans like me who could only live vicariously through them, and… I WON SOMETHING!! Yeah, it hardly ever happens to me either, so can you imagine my excitement and disbelief when they pulled my name out around the 14:15 mark of this recent recap they did? It still feels a little weird going back and watching it. But anyways, the prize of a signed coloring book is now here and I definitely giggled like a middle schooler when I opened it.
Hope you’ve had a great week, friends! Any other British news or items of interest I should be on the lookout for? You know I need to know these things so hit me up if you run across something!
Hello again, fellow Poldarkians! I have had such fun discussing the beautiful and hotly debated Elizabeth Poldark with all of you. Part I and Part II of this series have led to some wonderful conversations and I'm so excited to share this final post about her with you! (Spoiler alert! Thorough spoilers from Seasons 1 and 2 and books 1-4 ahead!)
Heida Reed as Elizabeth Poldark in BBC's "Poldark" (Photo Credit: Far Far Away Site)

We left off last time with Francis's tragic early death, the resulting effects on Elizabeth, her marriage to George Warleggan, and her part in her eventual affair with Ross. By this point in the series, she is not the same person she was at the beginning of it. Years' worth of disappointment, loss, and hiding her real feelings have turned her into a very cynical and hardened person. It's sad to me more than it's anything else. Many fans dismiss her contemptuously as a villain by this time because, after all, her choices have gotten her here. Well, yes and no. Many of the choices were hers, but in most of the circumstances in which she found herself, she felt she didn't have another choice. I'd argue that both of her marriages fall into this category. On the other hand, her choices where Ross is concerned are indeed less admirable. And yet, I can't deny that I've found myself far more frustrated with Ross than Elizabeth for much of the show and the books. Here is where the remainder of my thoughts on the subject will focus. After the first three considerations I've laid out in the previous posts, here is one more long one I'd offer. 

Consideration 4: Ross is equally to blame, if not more so, for the problems involving Elizabeth 

Yes, I’ll argue it. Elizabeth was undeniably guilty in the adultery, but I think there’s a strong case to be made for Ross being more responsible for the grand and complicated architecture of all the problems between them. I love him and truly believe he’s a good man at heart, but he’s also probably the most emotionally incompetent human being in all of fiction. He’s written that way purposely and I think it’s partly why he’s such a great character to watch and read about. He’s both maddening and endearing in many ways, and his relationship with Elizabeth is where I (and many others, no doubt) find him most maddening. He practically turns to putty at the sight of her and his reason leaves far too often when she’s around. There’s no doubt in my head that he’s deeply in love with Demelza, but he slips into fantasizing about Elizabeth far too easily when marriage gets tough. 

Heida Reed and Aidan Turner as Elizabeth and Ross in BBC's "Poldark" (Photo Credit: Far Far Away Site)

And that’s the rub about Elizabeth for Ross. She’s a fantasy, similar to how he is for her, and he way too easily idealizes her when reality isn’t going well. He knows intellectually that Demelza is better for him in every way. He and Elizabeth are far too different for them to have worked out (even Elizabeth says that to him in the show!), and he and Demelza fit into each other’s lives so well that marriage was natural. Nothing huge changed once they got married because they were already working together so well, and Ross knows that. But Elizabeth has always been just out of reach, and he doesn’t take enough active steps to guard against the effect she has on him. He immaturely idealizes her, wondering if perhaps he missed the best he could have had. In book 5, The Black Moon, Ross tells Demelza’s brother that although falling in love with Demelza certainly helped him move on from Elizabeth, it was still years before he believed that she wasn’t second best. And at the end of season 2 of the show, Ross’s apology exchange with Demelza expresses his problem well: 

Demelza: I am fierce and proud and steadfast and true and I’ll not settle for second best! 
Ross: Why would you be? 
Demelza: Because you love Elizabeth! Because you will always love Elizabeth! Because you cannot conceal your pain that George now possesses her body and soul! Do you deny it? 
Ross: I do not deny that I loved her. Long before I set eyes on you, she was my first, perfect, untouchable love. 
Demelza: Whereas I am dull, imperfect, and ordinary. 
Ross: Not ordinary, but yes, imperfect! Human. Real. What that night with Elizabeth taught me – and God knows there should have been other ways for me to come to my senses, but my arrogance, my idiocy, has been spectacular. All I can say is after that night – because of it – I came to see that if you take an idealized love and bring it down to the level of an imperfect one, it isn’t the imperfect one which suffers. My true, real, and abiding love is not for her. It’s for you. 

And there’s the rub – the realness of Demelza versus the idealization of Elizabeth. The audience sees it, but Ross can’t get it through his thick head till way later. Elizabeth certainly contributes to the adultery, but if Ross had actively pursued and nurtured his marriage to Demelza from its beginning, he already would have had a strong guard against the baits Elizabeth threw after Francis’s death. Many fans seem to think that everything is Elizabeth's fault because she was baiting him in the first place. Sure, she was wrong to do that, but what about the fact that Ross, you know... RESPONDED to them? And pretty eagerly. If he had kept his cool, maybe prioritized his own wife above Elizabeth, and accepted that Elizabeth is a just a woman, not a goddess, I'd say a lot could have been avoided. If he hadn't taken her baits, she would have eventually stopped throwing them.

Photo Credit: Far Far Away Site

Of course, Ross's enmity with George also plays a part in the affair, but again, Ross's overall immaturity in that sequence is truly disgusting. Though he and Elizabeth were deep in emotional unfaithfulness by then, he’d still given her no indication that he would be leaving Demelza, so I don’t know how he gets off thinking that he can dictate what Elizabeth does with her life. If she feels that marriage to the vilest person in Cornwall is her only option, then he should wish her well. How is it his business? It’s not, period. So to burst into her room, try to talk her out of the engagement without offering another viable suggestion, sleep with her, and then leave her high and dry is beyond reprehensible. Whether you like Elizabeth or not, she’s one thousand percent correct when she fumes in the show, 

How can he treat me so? How can he leave things so up in the air?! … He tried to stop this marriage, but offered nothing in return! He has taken what was not rightly his and walked away from the consequences!
 
Heida Reed and Jack Farthing as Elizabeth and George Warleggan in BBC's "Poldark" (Photo Credit: Far Far Away Site)

As already mentioned, if two unmarried people slept together in the 1700s, the next step was to get married as fast as possible. So it may seem ridiculous to us that Elizabeth appears to expect Ross to drop everything for her, but it was normal and right for her to expect something from him. He had wronged her as well as Demelza and an apology would have been in order for both of them. He knows it too. The book says as much as he reflects on both of their parts in the affair: 

But there had been other – and later – sins on his part. Over and over again during those first weeks following he had known he should go and see her and thrash the whole thing out in the light of day. It was unthinkable to leave the situation as he had left it, but that was precisely what he had done. He had behaved abominably first in going, then in not going; but he did not know what to say, and the impossibility of explaining himself had stopped him. If the history of the last ten years had been the tragedy of a woman unable to make up her mind, the last six months was the history of a man in a similar case. (Warleggan; Book 4, Chapter 6) 

 So there you have it. Elizabeth is certainly a mass of contradictions and has created many problems for every major character in the Poldark saga, but I can’t side with the haters. She makes many regrettable decisions and causes pain to an undue number of people, but I don’t see a villain when I look at her. I see a woman desperate for just a little bit of happiness, trapped by her upbringing, wronged by men she deeply trusted, and very embittered by harsh circumstances. She wants nothing but good for those she loves, but her need to please is consuming and she becomes so very hard. It’s tragic. Really, really tragic. 

Photo Credit: Far Far Away Site

“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” –Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail (1998 film) 

I agree, Kathleen, I agree. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a strong believer in reading and in its power to teach us deep lessons about ourselves, others, and the world we live in. I’ve been thinking about this above quote from You’ve Got Mail lately (if you haven’t seen this movie, please stop right now and go do yourself the favor of watching it) and am realizing just how true it is. The books and characters I connected with when I was young have stayed with me in profound ways through adulthood and I find that I’m still learning from them. 

These musings have even more particularly gotten me thinking about the literary heroines that have shaped me (Carrot Top Paper Shop and Lucy in the Sky over at Etsy have also had hands in this). Which ones made an impact on me as a young person? Which heroines taught me about life and girlhood then and now continue to teach me about womanhood? Why do I love them and what keeps me coming back to them? Here are some primary favorite heroines who have come to mind over the past few days and the characteristics that I think drive my love for them. 

Anne Shirley – Joy 
Lucy Maud Montgomery surely had no notion of the treasure she was giving the world in Anne Shirley when she first wrote Anne of Green Gables. Anne’s fascination with the world and zest for life inspire everyone she meets, whether they’re in the story with her or reading it from the outside. She lives fully, dreams big, and wants everyone to see the beauty in both the big and small things. I need more of all of that, so thanks, Anne.


“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It makes me feel glad to be alive – it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it?” –Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables 

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March – Love 
The March sisters of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott are fairly ordinary, and I think that’s why so many people love them. They’re a normal family of sisters doing their best with the hands dealt them. They struggle with the same things we do today – family quarrels, growing up, romance woes, friends’ betrayals, finding life callings, and so much more. But at the end of the day, they love well. The sisters are quite different, but all of them love boldly and wholeheartedly, and that makes me value this story deeply. They love each other, their parents, their friends, and their eventual spouses with unswerving devotion, and they do their best to be faithful in whatever life sets before them. 

“My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.” –Mrs. March, Little Women 

Jane Eyre – Truth 
Few characters I’ve encountered cling to truth and morals with the tenacity that Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre does. She prizes honesty and loves her hero counterpart with all the vigor her tender heart possesses. But when it comes to choosing between what is right and what is most desirable, she takes the path less traveled at great cost to herself. Jane is a gentle soul, yet she is full of quiet strength that never compromises on what is right. I think we could all stand to learn from her in that regard.

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour… If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth – so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane – quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.” –Jane Eyre 

Elizabeth Bennet – Wit 
Who doesn’t love Lizzy Bennet? Even her creator Jane Austen confessed that she found Elizabeth “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” Delightful is right – she laughs easily, diffuses tension with her playfulness, and always has a quick and witty comeback. She certainly learns the folly of judging too quickly, but throughout Pride and Prejudice, her insight always contributes substance to a conversation and her presence is a joy to those who know her well.


“Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her.” –Pride and Prejudice 

Sara Crewe – Courage
From riches to rags and back to riches, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s little Sara Crewe of A Little Princess is forced to grow up far too quickly, but she handles it with bravery and grace that few adults could muster. Though poverty-stricken for much of the story, she valiantly looks outside herself and never loses hope that there is goodness in the world. She befriends the outcasts at her London boarding school, turns to daydreams for comfort, and endures cruelty without retaliation. 


“If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in a cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.” –Sara Crewe, A Little Princess 

Mary Lennox – Perseverance 
Bless her, Frances Hodgson Burnett gave me two childhood heroines, and Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden was actually the first. Mary begins the story as quite a spoiled brat, but she slowly learns to think of other people and to take new interests, namely, resurrecting an abandoned garden on the estate of her new home in Yorkshire, England. Her determination to bring new life to the garden mirrors her own growth and her efforts to help her sickly cousin find purpose again. None of these processes happen easily, but Mary’s optimism grows as she does, and perseverance becomes one of her strongest suits.


“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” –The Secret Garden
 


If you don't have the pleasure of knowing these ladies, I cannot recommend them highly enough :) What are your favorite books from childhood? What characters shaped you? I'd love to hear in comments!
Heida Reed as Elizabeth Poldark in BBC's Poldark
Photo Credit: Fansided
Hello friends! I must say, I was SO encouraged by the response to Part I of this post series! Thank you all so much for reading and discussing. It does my Poldark fan heart good :) That said, I'm excited to share Part II with you! Check out the first post linked above or here if you missed it.

As I mentioned before, when I began writing about the complicated character arc of Elizabeth Poldark, I quickly realized the content would be better suited to multiple posts. Like her or not, you can't deny that she's quite layered and discussable! My first post focused on the earlier days of Poldark – Elizabeth's decision to marry Francis, their ensuing unhappy marriage, and Elizabeth's resilience through it. She certainly isn't faultless in these early years, but I contend that she deserved better from the beginning. Francis thoroughly failed her in his role as husband and I don't blame her for feeling unhappy, trapped, and frustrated. She's a poster girl for her time period – always polite, mannerly, and betraying no strong emotion even when her mind is whirling. It was what she was raised to do and also what her practical nature demanded.

But now we come to when Elizabeth takes a less admirable turn. A change begins to unfold in her throughout the middle books and in Season 2 of the show. Circumstances and poor decisions both gradually chip away at her positive attributes and she becomes hard and resentful. And personally, I find it very tragic to watch. So, after Considerations 1 and 2 of the last post, here is a lengthy third consideration for reflection. (Warning: Thorough spoilers from books 3-4 and Season 2 are ahead!) 

Consideration 3: Elizabeth is never totally honest with herself and she lets bitterness into her heart, so very bad decisions and attitudes ensue
Photo Credit: Anibundel
As previously established, Elizabeth is almost always putting on a show. Unlike the free-spirited and passionate Demelza, Elizabeth keeps her true emotions under wraps and hardly ever says what's really on her mind. As I’m sure we all know, constantly putting on a show is exhausting. And if you do it long enough, you’ll almost certainly become a very confused and resentful human being. That’s what we see happen to Elizabeth, and it’s at the crux of why I find her such a tragic character. Her society and upbringing literally taught her that she needed to put on that show all the time, and she handles it with admirable forbearance at first. But in the process, she forgets how to be honest with herself and many others, and bitterness blooms in her heart at the same time. 

Elizabeth’s failing in the early days is that she holds onto whatever emotional intimacy she can get with Ross without seeming to accept that they shouldn’t interact in such a manner. It feels natural for her to go to him with sensitive things because her husband is such a loser, but she isn’t honest enough with herself to accept that what she’s doing is unfair to everyone. But the show emphasizes that things are changing when Ross makes an uncharacteristically emotional display of his love for Demelza as she lies near death of putrid throat. Seeing that, Elizabeth realizes that she no longer holds his heart like she used to and that doesn’t sit well with her, even if she can’t verbalize it right away. That’s certainly the moment in the show that her character slowly begins to shift, and while it’s not as obvious in the books, the putrid throat scare and little Julia’s death are still contributing factors. 

Elizabeth is undeniably grateful to Demelza for saving Geoffrey Charles from the illness and I think she also initially harbors deep guilt over Julia's death. Her desire for reconciliation with Demelza and Ross is sincere, but she also liked knowing that she had a place in Ross’s heart and doesn’t want to let go of that. I think that’s partly because Francis had so thoroughly failed as a husband up to that point and partly because resentment is starting to build in Elizabeth since she’s taken so much grief so far. Julia’s death puts a strain on Ross and Demelza’s marriage, so it’s easy for Elizabeth to start trying to win back Ross’s infatuation. I’m not even convinced she’s aware of it at first, but the dinner Ray Penvenen’s house is where it takes a serious turn. It’s there that she tells Ross that she had always loved him, even after marrying Francis. This of course throws Ross into confusion that he doesn’t easily shake. But even so, I’m not convinced these seeds would have grown significant if not for the tragic turn of events in the middle of season 2 and partway through book 4, Warleggan

Francis’s death is perhaps the cruelest blow for Elizabeth thus far. Earlier on, his failed suicide made him realize that he could turn his life around if he made the effort, so he does. He becomes the husband and father he wanted to be, reconciles with Ross, and apologizes to Demelza in one of the most moving scenes in the books and show alike. So then, his accidental death is unquestionably “the bitterest irony,” as the author so eloquently notes. Grief weighs Elizabeth down even more, and her resentment grows deeper. Even after the dinner at Mr. Penvenen’s, Francis was doing an admirable job of repairing their relationship. But after his death, she feels helpless, confused, and alone, and despite the genuineness of those feelings, she uses them to her advantage where Ross is concerned.
Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers
Ross is maddeningly weak-willed when it comes to Elizabeth (more on that later), and when she’s free to marry again, his fantasies over her gain new traction. I think Elizabeth finds satisfaction in that because she’s weathered so many past disappointments and now grief that she never expected. She justifies his attentions with her difficult circumstances (and they certainly are difficult) even though she inwardly knows they’re wrong. But she rationalizes them anyway with thoughts along the lines of, “Well don’t I deserve something that I want after all I’ve been through?” And I believe that line of thinking contributes heavily to the awful night at Trenwith after she writes to Ross that she’s going to marry George Warleggan. Both of these plot lines are obviously closely tied, so one at a time. 

First, George. My initial reaction, like that of many others, was something like this: 

“DON’T DO IT, ELIZABETH! DO ANYTHING BUT MARRY EVIL GEORGE!” 

And she should have known better because she knows how he’s tried to ruin Ross’s life despite her attempts to deny it to herself. Desperation has simply driven her to thinking that she can maybe fix the things about George that are less admirable. And her confusing feelings toward Ross also contributed to the decision. At first, Elizabeth knew it would set Ross off and likely make him protest, which he certainly did with disastrous results. But then later, when Ross didn’t return after the night at Trenwith, anger and resentment toward him fueled her to go ahead after some hesitation. All of these are obviously terrible reasons to marry someone. 

And yet. There are complexities. I hate it but I love it. Let’s be clear – George Warleggan is probably one of the most despicable people in all of fiction. But his feelings for Elizabeth are incredibly well-written in the books. For all his evil, his love for her is genuine. It’s almost a redeeming quality for him in the books, and in the show, he does demonstrate true care for her even though his attentions initially may seem awkward and no more than empty flattery. But he's doing what he knows how to do, and we do get occasional glimpses of maybe a hint of a soul in him (serious props to Jack Farthing's performance of him, for reals). So in Elizabeth’s situation, it would be a relief to have someone like George showing concern. And when he proposes, Ross aside, Elizabeth sees a nearly immediate solution to all her problems. She’s an impoverished widow in her late twenties, so she’s lost much of her eligibility for future marriage prospects (again, think 1700s marriages...social standing and money are more important than love). Plus, she has a sick mother to care for, and apart from a miracle, her son would have nothing to live on when he grew up. Enter George Warleggan. Literally an overnight fix to everything, as the book describes so well: 

“He was offering her all this as the price of marriage: her son lacking for nothing, all her problems solved… Upstairs was her mother, crippled and fretful, and her father, indecisive and endlessly complaining. She had ridden over in the rain and tonight or tomorrow she must ride back to Trenwith, which would greet her unlighted and unheated and with all its problems still to solve. And years of loneliness and sick-nursing lay ahead. And on the other side was light and warmth and companionship and care.” (Warleggan; Book 3, Chapter 2) 

George and Elizabeth (Jack Farthing and Heida Reed) in Poldark Season 3
Photo Credit: Poldark on Facebook
Beneath all the confusion and wrong motivations, Elizabeth still feels backed into a corner, as any woman would have in her situation back then. So objectively, she would have been a fool to turn down someone with George’s resources, but subjectively, there were reasons that should have perhaps made her pause. 

And of course, all of her complicated feelings toward Ross encompass a big reason that Elizabeth should have paused. She rightly supposes that he will loudly object to the marriage and cherishes some hope that it could lead to something more between them. And of course he does object, but she’s hardly prepared for just how loudly. Upon reading her letter with the news, Ross reacts somewhat like this, practically transforming into some fiendish alien. And a truly outrageous display of temper, selfishness, and vulgarity on his part ensues. Elizabeth is certainly not to blame for Ross’s utter desertion of reason and control on the night of their affair. There’s no doubt that he was the instigator of that night – he kicked in a window (door in the show), pushed into her room, picked the argument like a petty schoolboy, and ultimately used physical force with her in his anger. But it’s still clear that Elizabeth had wanted a reaction and some declaration of love from him. Ross of course just childishly takes the bait and then leaves a far larger problem than she’d pictured in her fantasies. 

Elizabeth and Ross (Heida Reed and Aidan Turner) in Season 1. I've heard it said that everything starts with a thought, and there were certainly way too many entertained thoughts in both of them for a long time.
Photo Credit: Chapter 1-Take 1
This infamous scene at Trenwith always raises questions and debates, so to be plain, no, I do not think it was rape. I reached this part in the show before I'd read it in the book, and due to media hype before the fateful episode aired, I was prepared for a scene that echoed the heartbreaking rape storyline in Downton Abbey involving Anna Bates. But this sequence in Poldark was drastically different. In Downton Abbey, Anna screamed and struggled and was cut and bleeding afterwards. But in Poldark, Elizabeth gave in after minimal resistance and was sleeping peacefully the next morning, indicating that she was not displeased and she had let Ross stay all night. Was Ross to blame? No question. But was Elizabeth also at fault? Absolutely. This plot line is a difficult one, but I think we need look no further than the book itself for the best explanation of it. The scene itself is purposely ambiguous, but to fully understand it, the entirety of the books is necessary, and this passage at the end of Warleggan is telling: 

The bitterness of Elizabeth’s tones and looks had only surprised Ross in their degree. He had expected her enmity… but after the initial resistance that night there had been no particular indication that she hated him. Her attitude towards him during a number of years, and particularly the last two, was more than anything else responsible for what had happened, and she must have known it. Her behavior that night had shown that she knew it. (Warleggan; Book 4, Chapter 6) 

In other words, Elizabeth knew by the end of that night that she had wanted this, and it was her last-ditch effort at getting something she wanted after so much disappointment. It was the explosion of years’ worth of pent-up frustration and unsatisfied feelings. But her perfected art of putting on a show had also made her forget how to be honest with herself, so both before and after that night, I think she was chasing the fantasy of being with Ross and not thinking rationally at all. What does she want? Well, maybe for Ross to come to her and suggest they go away together, for Demelza to wish them happily ever after, for all her problems to magically disappear, etc. So, nothing realistic. And if it were to come down to it, I don’t think Elizabeth would ever actually go away with Ross – she’s too much of a pragmatist. But happiness has always been elusive for Elizabeth and she can’t help hoping something will change, and after she and Ross sleep together, it’s natural for her to expect something from him. Some clarification, some apology, some next step. He left her in the morning with nothing but a weak “I’ll be in touch” adieu, after all. If Ross had been single, the appropriate thing to do in that time period would have been to marry Elizabeth, so it makes sense for her to expect something. But Ross gives no such thing, thereby grossly insulting everyone affected by the affair. 

And here we come to the crowning tension. As much as Elizabeth is to blame, I've still found myself frustrated with Ross far more often than I am with her. For whatever reason, he always goes weak at the knees around her and it's positively galling after the first several books. He and Demelza have been to the edge of the cliff and back again after losing Julia, Demelza's struggles in becoming proper Mistress Poldark, Ross's many scrapes with the law... and on and on. But he still can't seem to get it through his thick head that Demelza is better for him in every way. This is where we'll pick up next time – Ross's undeniable part in all the problems involving Elizabeth. Many fans lay all the blame at Elizabeth's feet, but I think that does gross injustice to her. 

Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers
So stay tuned! What are your thoughts on the events discussed in this post? How did your opinion of Elizabeth change once the drama of the middle books and Season 2 began? I'd love to hear!