The Angry Tide by Winston Graham

The Angry Tide

Winston Graham

Cornwall, towards the end of the 18th century. Ross Poldark sits for the borough of Truro as Member of Parliament – his time divided between London and Cornwall, his heart divided about his wife, Demelza. His old feud with George Warleggan still flares – as does the illicit love between Morwenna and Drake, Demelza’s brother.

Before the new century dawns, George and Ross will be drawn together by a loss greater than their rivalry – and Morwenna and Drake by a tragedy that brings them hope…


The Angry Tide is the seventh book in the Poldark series and one which changes a lot of things. I’m getting a lot of hits from people who are curious about what happens in this series, so be warned this book contains major character deaths.

After being elected as an MP in The Four Swans, Ross now divides his time between Cornwall and London, however he has grown weary of being alone in the city and is making his way home to Demelza at the start of the book. The relationship between Ross and Demelza has suffered in recent years due to them both being unfaithful, however they are committed to staying together and are trying to find their way back to each other. When Demelza finally accompanies Ross to London, she becomes the target of a wager between George Warleggan and a known rake which leads to Ross becoming involved in a disastrous duel.

George Warleggan is trying to buy his way into parliament after losing his seat to Ross so any opportunity to ruin his enemy’s reputation can’t be ignored. On the home front, George’s relationship with Elizabeth has settled now that his fears about the paternity of Valentine have been allayed, and for once, George and Elizabeth actually discuss their problems like adults. When Elizabeth announces she is pregnant, George is excited about the news but a throwaway comment from Geoffrey Charles about how much Valentine resembles Ross causes George’s doubts to resurface. Elizabeth believes the only way to convince George she is prone to having premature babies is to take a potion to bring on the early onset of labour, however she pays a heavy price when it takes her life.

The passages dealing with the aftermath of Elizabeth’s death are particularly poignant as you would expect for a woman who has been so loved by the men in her life. Both George and Ross are completely devastated in different ways but even now George cannot put his enmity aside to mourn his wife. For Ross, Elizabeth’s death is a rude awakening as he realises he may one day lose Demelza and he cannot bear to contemplate a life without her. The love triangle between Ross, Demelza and Elizabeth has been stretched out over seven books and I’ve commented frequently about how it should’ve been resolved long before now as it felt like nothing more than a plot device to keep driving a wedge between Ross and Demelza. Elizabeth’s death shakes Ross to his very core so I’m hoping he can now concentrate on the one woman who has always been there for him.

Elsewhere, Morwenna Whitworth’s life continues to be miserable as her husband, Osborne, attempts to have her committed for threatening the life of their son, however the real reason is she is not fulfilling her marital obligations by sleeping with him. Osborne’s vile actions surpass even those of the Warleggans as he tries to hire a nurse for his son who will also keep his bed warm, when this fails, he renews his affair with Morwenna’s sister. Unfortunately for Osborne, Rowella’s husband discovers their deceit, and kills Osborne. No one really mourns the loss of Osborne, except perhaps his mother, but Morwenna is too numb to realise she is free to marry Drake Carne.

Morwenna’s story is a little melodramatic in nature, with one miserable episode after another, and it doesn’t get any easier after Osborne’s death. Morwenna has been so traumatised by Osborne, she cannot imagine ever being able to have sex again and she initially refuses to marry Drake, however he manages to convince her they will make it work. We should be happy true love wins out in the end but the author made a serious mistake when he had Drake propose to Rosina Hoblyn only to break it off when he heard Morwenna was a widow. Rosina is too good a person to be treated in this way and it spoiled the outcome of Drake and Morwenna’s story for me.

The Angry Tide is a major game changer and in a sense it also marks the end of Ross and Demelza’s time as the eighth book jumps forward to 1810 with the attention beginning to move towards the next generation.