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The Stranger from the Sea by Winston Graham
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The Stranger from the Sea (1981)

by Winston Graham

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Book Eight of the Poldark Series, [b:The Stranger from the Sea|194622|The Stranger from the Sea (Poldark, #8)|Winston Graham|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1356129610s/194622.jpg|1545373] takes place ten years after Book Seven, [b:The Angry Tide|194630|The Angry Tide (Poldark, #7)|Winston Graham|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1391952789s/194630.jpg|364847]. I was concerned that this would mean an abrupt transition from the story of Ross and Demelza to that of the next generation. I have had this happen with other sagas and found it disconcerting. Not to fear, Winston Graham knows precisely how to tell a story with continuity and progress mixed in perfect proportions.

Life has continued apace since we left Ross at a moment of sadness, but revelation, and Ross now finds himself in a very respectable, but not affluent, position:

”He had made little money. But over the years they had continued sufficiently affluent to live a comfortable life. As he said to Demelza, the most important thing was to strike a balance: poverty and riches each in their own way caused unhappiness. With money, the way to be happy was to continue to have almost enough.”

I was struck by how much truth there is to that. And, within this novel, we get a glimpse of both the horrors of extreme poverty and the decadence of unearned wealth. I am happy to say that Ross and Demelza have raised lovely children, smart and unassuming and in so many ways reflective of both their parents. I became immediately as interested in the futures of Jeremy and Clowance as I had been in that of Ross, Demelza, Elizabeth, George, Dwight and Caroline.

This installment reminds me particularly of Jane Austen. If you enjoy her witty look into the depths of societal classes, this book will resonate with you. It is the time in which class distinctions are collapsing due to the influx of new money, and the time when the aristocracy is perhaps most fervent to hold on to its position and power.

As always there are difficulties in love. People can never fall in love with only the right people and, even today, there are often obstacles not of our own making.

She helped tighten one of the girths. ‘I know you have been--greatly upset; and I cannot help you. It grieves me that I cannot help you. I can’t even give you advice!’
‘Nobody can’
‘For you would not take it. Quite right. It is hopeless for older people to tell younger ones--particularly their own children--that they have been through the same thing. Such information is no use at all! It bounces off one’s own grief--or jealousy or distress. If we are all born the same we are also all born unique--we all go through torments nobody else has ever had.”


Another bit of the human condition I could well relate to. Don’t we all want to save our children from pitfalls, but isn’t it human nature for each man to make his own mistakes and pay his own penalties...and isn’t that, in truth, the only way anyone finds their way and their own happiness.

Ross fails to see Jeremy for the man he is, capable and interested and daring. Again, I think Winston Graham has seen into the soul of mankind. We so often miss that which is most essential and best in those we are close to; we often view our children as children long after we should have seen them as adults. And, in the way he has often failed to appreciate Demelza, Ross is prone to failing to recognize the value of those who love him most. There is much, I would contend, about Jeremy that is Ross. That fearlessness and drive is there waiting for a place to commit itself, and the similarities sometimes make for less instead of more understanding.

And, lastly, we see that Ross and Demelza are no longer young themselves. They are well along their journey and, while not doddering on old age, we clearly see that they are closer to the end than they now are to the beginning.

”And who would have thought Lady Landsdowne was three months forward? I wish I were. I wish Jeremy was three again like her son. I wish I was twenty-six like her and it was all to come again. Life...it slips away like sand out of a torn envelope. Well, I’m still not exactly old. But it hurst me to see Ross limp and the lines about his jaw, and many of my friends sick or old or dead.”

Ah, another passage that seems written for my life and my age. I hear you, Demelza, but oh it has been a wonderful life, full of events that have warmed and torn you, and sworn to your zest for living it. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Some may object to the mini-flashbacks in this book. I did not since I am picking up the series again after not reading it for 6 months so the flashbacks refreshed my memory.

I really enjoy this series which is now entering a phase of the grown up children as well as traditional fights between the Poldark and Warleggan families.

The introduction of the "stranger"-Stephen Carrington adds some spice to the story as you try to figure out if this fellow is a good guy or something more sinister.

The writing by Graham is impeccable of course. ( )
  Lynxear | Jun 7, 2018 |
This book jumps ahead 10 years in the lives of the Poldark family and deposits us in 1810-11. The Poldark children are rapidly becoming adults: Jeremy is an engineering enthusiast, particularly fascinated with the potential of steam power, while Clowance is learning to navigate society and figuring out what she wants from her life (and eventual husband). And the youngest, Isabella-Rose, is eight and full of enthusiasm and life.

Ross becomes more involved in Parliament, particularly as the question of George III’s health becomes more urgent and the need for a regency looms closer. Napoleon is still wreaking havoc on the continent, and Ross sees some action in the Peninsular Wars (at long last making me grateful for having read The Gun, by C.S. Forester). Demelza comes to terms with approaching middle age, and George Warleggan takes tentative steps toward a new business venture.

This book is not as action-packed as some other installments have been, but it is a good comfortable book to read. Ross is almost maddeningly self-aware in this one (particularly in his conversations with Jeremy), and Dwight is perhaps a bit too gifted with 20th-century hindsight when it comes to diagnosing George III’s health problems, but with a setting as rich as this one, such points are easy to forgive.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the inclusion of a character called Henry Harvey; we have some Harveys in our family tree, and Henry is a common name in that branch of the family. He does appear to be a real person, but I’m not sure he’s an actual ancestor of mine. Still, it’s nice to pretend ;) ( )
  rabbitprincess | Dec 5, 2017 |
Slight spoilers ahead:

In The Stranger From the Sea, Winston Graham returns to the people of Cornwall from his Poldark books, but about a decade after The Angry Tide. Ross and Demelza's children are almost "grown", as is Valentine Warleggan, child of The Black Moon.

I like how the author pulled us into the lives of the next generation without forsaking our old friends like Dr. Enys, Caroline, Demelza, and Ross Poldark. Well-written as all his works, Winston Graham has given us another gem to cherish and treasure. Definitely recommended. ( )
  fuzzi | Sep 10, 2017 |
The Napoleonic War is raging on the continent and with Ross freshly returned to Cornwall from an observational mission in Portugal for Parliament, he discovers quieter conflicts brewing at home. While Ross and Demelza have settled into a happier phase of their marriage, they must now watch as their two eldest children struggle with finding their place in the world. Meanwhile, George Warleggan finds himself in an entirely new position when he finds himself attracted to a woman for the first time since Elizabeth's death. But in his pursuit of her, George may put everything he's worked so hard for at risk.

A quieter entry in the Poldark saga, this book is very obviously laying groundwork for the coming books in the series. That doesn't make it lacking in any way, as the characters are the real draw of these books and as long as I get time with Ross and Demelza, I'm very happy. While the focus of this novel shifts a little more to the younger Poldarks, there's still enough of my favourite couple to keep it from being too much a jolt. And Jeremy and Clowance are both intriguing characters on their own so that I look forward to seeing what the remaining books bring for them. If you've come this far in the series, you'll definitely enjoy this book. ( )
  MickyFine | Aug 2, 2017 |
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On Thursday, the 25th October, 1810, a windy day with the first autumnal leaves floating down over the parks and commons of England, the old King went mad.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 033034501X, Paperback)

Stephen Carrington's arrival in the Poldark household changes all their lives. For Clowance and Jeremy in particular, the children of Ross and Demelza, Stephen's advent is the key to a new world—one of both love and danger. This novel is set in early 19th-century Cornwall.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Poldark family awaits the return of Ross from his mission to Wellington's army in Portugal. But their ordered existence ends with Jeremy Poldark's dramatic rescue of a stranger from the sea. Stephen Carrington's arrival in the Poldark household changes all their lives. For Clowance and Jeremy in particular, the children of Ross and Demelza, Stephen's advent is the key to a new world-- one of both love and danger.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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