Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet seen the final episode of Poldark, the eighteenth century saga set in Cornwall, you probably want to stop reading now.
Despite the rugged terrain with wild rides along the sea and rivalries among the families, one steady character, reportedly about to celebrate her 100th birthday, challenges the evil doers and maintains her upright moral code despite the corruption around her. Sadly, Aunt Agatha finally has her heart broken when the cold calculating George Warleggan cancels her birthday party. Of course, the stalwart Aunt Agatha has her revenge before she takes her last breath.
In the Masterpiece Studio Podcast interview of Catherine Blakiston, the actress playing Aunt Agatha, she mentions she was gifted the tarot cards she often shuffled on scene as she predicted dire consequences for others, and the book Aunt Agatha continually read around the fire – Tristram Shandy.
Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, with its first of nine volumes published in 1759, begins with its hero about to be born and becomes so sidetracked by digressions that the story ends shortly after his birth, but not before introducing a vivid group of eccentric and farcical characters in a comic tour de force. Tristram Shandy was a bestseller of its time and Sterne is recognized as one of the forerunners of psychological fiction.
I’ve never read it, so in honor of Aunt Agatha, I’ve downloaded the classic for free from Project Gutenberg – all 760 pages.
- The Atlantic: English Literature’s Most Unusual Page
- The 100 Best Novels: No. 6 – The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman