Venture Once More–Poldark 2, Ep. 3

I’ll be honest and say that I found the third episode of Newdark anticlimactic, after the drama of Ross’s trial. Granted, this is true to the novel: Ross & Demelza come home to new worries and a mountain of debt, which they endeavor to tackle while failing to communicate well with each other. She is hiding an unexpected pregnancy, he is hiding the full extent of their financial woes from her. It makes for realistic but grim viewing. Ross, in particular, spends most of the episode in a sullen  mood that arouses Demelza’s insecurities even before he comes thisclose to making a pass at Elizabeth when the Nampara and Trenwith Poldarks finally reconcile at a harvest celebration.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 13/09/2016 - Programme Name: Poldark - TX: n/a - Episode: episode 3 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Geoffrey Charles and Francis. Geoffrey Charles, Francis (KYLE SOLLER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Adrian Rogers

The Good

  1. Francis continues to benefit from better writing, and there is genuine warmth and even charm in his scenes with Geoffrey Charles. And he’s genuinely touched when Ross & Demelza accept his olive branch. Kyle Soller’s Francis is earnest and slightly puppyish rather than witty and sardonic like Graham’s Francis, but it’s an improvement over how the character was written last season. Some of those missteps cast a shadow over the present season: it’s hard to reconcile the Francis who’s now eager to find a new mining venture with the one who lost the family mine at cards and was depicted as not knowing how to interact with his own workers.
  2. The Penvenens–uncle and niece–are continuing to grow on me, though I like their Oldark incarnations just as well. And I liked the deepening attraction between Caroline and Dwight when he removed the fishbone from her throat, though I did think the set-up could have been better. In the book, she’s been ailing for several days and has genuine concerns about possibly having contracted the morbid sore throat by the time he comes to call on her. In Newdark, she’s walking around looking perfectly fit and not even sounding hoarse when she mentions her throat pain to Dwight almost in passing. It makes her summoning him look more like a childish whim than a genuine medical crisis.
  3. The harvest festival: in the book, Ross and Demelza come for Christmas at Trenwith, mirroring the first Christmas they spend there as husband and wife. Still, the harvest celebration adds an appealing touch of local color, especially when Francis pulls up the last sheaf of corn for the crying of the neck, an old Cornish custom.

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The Bad

  1. George’s boxing lessons: I suspect we’re supposed to find his efforts to become more “macho” amusing, given that he’s been presented as such a ponce. But I personally prefer George to be a menacing figure instead of a ridiculous one. Graham’s George was always capable of holding his own in a fight–but more to the point, he was more likely to engage people to beat up those who crossed him than soil his own hands.
  2. Elizabeth as Demelza’s confidante: I didn’t buy it in the previous episode and I still don’t. In the novels, the two women achieve a tentative truce but they’re never wholly comfortable in each other’s company and in their heart of hearts, they still feel some rivalry even if it never reaches catfight levels. So, having Elizabeth pop up on Nampara land to inquire about Demelza’s pregnancy was annoying–and so was her remembering Demelza when Ross didn’t during their almost-tryst. And Ross eyeballing Elizabeth as she danced at the harvest festival seemed too much a callback to his doing the same to Demelza at the Carters’ wedding last season. It’s as if Horsfield is trying to downplay the differences in temperament and personality between the two women by making Elizabeth into Demelza-Lite (only genteel and with half the Cornishness).
  3. Ross’s incomplete pass: Definitely not his finest hour. I suspect liquor and nostalgia were mostly to blame, but his sheep’s eyes at Elizabeth and his tone-deaf assertion that she could “never play the scullery maid” (unlike Demelza) deserve a boot to the head. In the book, the charged moment between the former sweethearts is subtler–and mutual. They both feel a latent spark, but they manage to pull away before they can act on it. Elizabeth was not the only one to remember that they were married to others.

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The WTF?

  1. Continuity was an issue in this episode, more so than in some others, and I’ve heard that PBS cut about 10 minutes from its broadcast, which probably didn’t help. But because Horsfield decided not to include Demelza curing Sir John Trevaunance’s cow, Captain MacNeil’s suggestion  that Demelza take a look at Sir Hugh Bodrugan’s cow makes no sense (and in the novel, it’s Sir Hugh’s prize horse that needs tending).
  2. An excess of cross-cutting: In the last 20 minutes or so, there was way too much shifting back and forth between the harvest celebration at Trenwith, Not-so-dead-Jud’s wake around Nampara, and another harvest party at Killewarren. The scenes felt short, choppy, and disjointed–and the Killewarren party especially seemed like filler. Nothing essential happened there; the real action was upstairs in Caroline’s sickroom when Dwight examined her throat. Maybe Horsfield and Company wanted to get their money’s worth from all the fancy food and drink prepared for the occasion.

All caught up now, so I’ll be back after Episode 4 airs in the US. Until then!

A Wedding In Cornwall is Here!

It’s Columbus Day–and the release date of my e-novella, A Wedding in Cornwall!

WeddingInCornwallGraphicRobin and Sophie, the star-crossed hero and heroine of A Song At Twilight, are finally getting married. Join them and their families as they celebrate this happy, long-awaited, and long-overdue occasion. But expect a few surprises on the road to Happy Ever After…

The Story Behind the Story: To someone who loves words as much as I do and who tends to the naturally verbose <G>, writing shorter lengths tends to be a challenge. My short stories want to turn into novellas, my novellas into novels, and my novels into sagas! I admire and envy writers who can turn out those neat-but-complete packages of 20-40K words that can supplement their longer works or provide just the right amount of zing for the stressful holiday season, like a perfect amuse-bouche between dinner courses.

But in this year of Trying New Things, I was determined to get the hang of it. For some time, I’d been toying with the idea of writing about Sophie and Robin’s wedding, though, at first, I wasn’t sure there was enough material for more than a very short story. Then another subplot idling at the back of my mind–concerning Sophie’s brother Harry and the woman he’d been carrying on with for the last few years–sprang to the forefront and attached itself to the wedding story, and suddenly I had a burgeoning novella on my hands. Even better, I had a solid narrative structure to follow from start to finish (this does not always happen, so cherish the times when it does!).

A Wedding In Cornwall was completed in just a little under two months (that, too, was rare for me, and thus, worth celebrating). Serendipitously, I found a very pretty pre-made cover on BookGraphics.net that was a good fit for the story’s romantic spirit. L.K. Campbell, who formatted my fairy tale collection last spring, was available to perform the same service for A Wedding in Cornwall. So, within a fairly short time, the novella was ready to go, and I was mulling a mid-September release.

At which point, my old computer gave up the ghost, necessitating a data transfer and a replacement/upgrade of my whole set-up. Fortunately, everything was recoverable, and I’m in the habit of sending my most important projects to my email cache anyway, so disaster was averted. Just. Have I mentioned lately that September is not my favorite month? This one was particularly trying.

October, however, feels more auspicious, so I chose a date that I’d have no trouble remembering. And voila! A Wedding in Cornwall is now available for a special promotional price of .99 (for a limited time), on the following platforms:

Kindle   Nook   Apple   Kobo

(A print edition will be released in combination with A Scandal in Newport, another novella in the series, tentatively scheduled for early 2016.)

I hope you enjoy reading this tale as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Alive in October…

800px-Bierstadt_Albert_Autumn_Woods

It’s the sound no Mac user ever wants to hear when she presses the Power button.

Dead silence.

To be followed by escalating panic and repeated efforts to reboot by painstakingly disconnecting and then reconnecting all the cables before powering up again, step by step. To no avail.

To be followed by a pilgrimage to the closest Mac serviceperson, who also fails to revive your silent machine and regretfully informs you that the cost of repair would be more than the computer is currently worth.

At which point, you grit your teeth, approve the retrieval and transfer of your files to an external drive, wincing at the cost, and then, still wincing, set out to replace your venerable desktop with something more up to date.

Which is the position I found myself in about three weeks ago. Fortunately, the process of getting everything set up and running again was easier than expected–if not entirely painless. Best of all, my data appears to be intact, which was my main concern.

My computer crisis was just one in a string of difficulties last month, most of which revolved around Broken Stuff. I’m crossing my fingers that October will be easier in that respect, at least!

AWIC WEB PROMO smallOn the up side, I can make the announcement that, barring further disaster (knocking repeatedly on wood), A Wedding In Cornwall–my companion novella to A Song At Twilight–will be released this month! I had a lot of fun revisiting Cornwall and writing about Sophie and Robin’s big day, as well as offering a hint about what lies in store for other characters.

Plus, I’m including a sneak preview of my next series, The Lyons Pride, about a contentious ducal family–inspired by an even more contentious royal family–and their efforts to find love, healing, and lasting happiness!

For more information on future works, just watch this space. Or sign up for my new release letter, over at this website’s sidebar.

Hoping that autumn brings good times and good reads to all of you!

Happy May Day!

A new month already? I’ve been so busy getting Awakened launched and then making Devices and Desires fit to be seen, that I completely neglected to note such April occurrences as Easter, Earth Day, Shakespeare’s birthday, and National Poetry Month! Not to mention being largely absent from this blog. I hope to be less distracted in future.

Hobby Hoss pursues maiden at Padstow festival
Hobby Hoss pursues maiden at Padstow festival

So, to start things off fresh, here’s a May Day carol from Cornwall, which is the setting for my first two historicals. Padstow is located further up the coast from my fictional village of St. Perran, but it’s famous for its traditional May Day celebrations, during which a large “Hobby Horse” (or ‘Obby ‘Oss)–formed by a mask mounted on a circular frame covered in a black skirt–runs and dances through the streets while the villagers sing some version of the following song. During the “Where is King George?” verse, the Horse sinks to the ground pretending to die, but leaps up in the next verse to show how spring in the season of renewal.

So, all together now, to herald the Hobby Horse’s entrance: “Oss, Oss, Wee Oss!”

Padstow May Carol
(traditional; from the singing of Steeleye Span)

Unite and unite, and let us all unite
For summer is a-comin’ today.
And whither we are going we all will unite,
In the merry morning of May.

The young men of Padstow, they might if they would,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
They might have built a ship and gilded it with gold
In the merry morning of May.

The young women of Padstow, they might if they would,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
They might have built a garland with the white rose and the red
In the merry morning of May.

Rise up, Mrs Johnson, all in your gown of green
For summer is a-comin’ today.
You are as fine a lady as waits upon the Queen
In the merry morning of May.

Oh where is King George? Oh where is he-O?
He’s out in his longboat, all on the salt sea-O.
Up flies the kite, down falls the lark-O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood, she has an old ewe,
And she died in her own park-O.

With the merry ring and with the joyful spring,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
How happy are the little birds and the merrier we shall sing
In the merry morning of May.

Oh where are the young men that now do advance
For summer is a-comin’ today.
Some they are in England and some they are in France
In the merry morning of May.

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Maypole dancers at Renaissance Faire