Read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons Lynne Truss Roz Chast Online


Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right....

Title : Cold Comfort Farm
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ISBN : 9780143039594
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 233 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Cold Comfort Farm Reviews

  • Petra X
    2019-04-21 21:04

    Update I've just watched the film. It's even better than the book, by a long way. It's very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna Ab Fab Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders and the lightness that Robert Post's child, Flora, brought to the farm. The ending was also an improvement on the 5* book. If you like British films, this is so typical of gentle British humour. In an earlier decade it would have been an Ealing film. I don't think it could have been made in the US as most of the actors weren't remotely good looking. Even Elvine, playing a mini Eliza Doolittle role (an obvious pastiche) was rather average and the sex-obsessed and over-fertile girl had been made up to look like an unwashed farm girl. Only Kate Beckinsale (who is not the world's most brilliant actress, although she was competent here, was allowed to be a beauty. I do recommend the film. And the book. Rarely do I see a film much better than a really good book, but this is it. John Schlesinger and Stella Gibbons, author and director, geniuses both._______________________When Aunt Ada Doom was just a small child, she saw "something nasty in the woodshed". And if it didn't blight her entire life, she certainly made sure it would blight, or at least add even more blight, to everyone else at Cold Comfort Farm, the family home and ancestral seat of the Starkadders.Essentially this is the American tv series, the Hillbillies rewritten for 1930s Sussex and parodying Hardy, Lawrence, and various other Great British Writers, but is more related to the Hillbillies with incest, hellfire, strange obsessions (cows) and all manner of people who all have mental or emotional problems of the darker, more malign sort. Into this maelstrom of petty evil, fear and ineptness, come the heroine. Flora Poste is the posh city cousin fallen on hard times whose father the Starkadders did something unmentionable to and feel guilty about so when she has nowhere to go, they take her in. But not willingly. She sorts them all out and brings them from their ignorant, Gothic-y insular life into the modern world. It is a ridiculously funny novel, not as literary as the parodying might suggest. I haven't seen the film of it, only just learned there was one, which was apparently brilliant and stars top British actors and actresses (as opposed to 'stars' famous more for their beauty than any thespian ability). Sometimes I don't want to see the film of a favourite book in case the director hasn't seen it the same way as I have, but this time I want to.Finished 26 Dec. 2011Book review 19 May 2015Film Review 24 May 2015

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-05-20 23:07

    I imagine that Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm from the artfully distressed comfort of a small garret-like room. Clad in a light tweed and perched gracefully in front of an oversized front strike, Smith-Corona type writer with a cup of tea in bone china cup and saucer just out of reach of the return of the barrel of the typewriter. I can also imagine her gently cackling to herself in polite and proper manner as she clattered out the lines which would come together to form the world of Cold Comfort Farm; Postes, Starkadders, Beetles, Myburns and all.Flora Poste is bright eyed, knowing, impossibly perky and recently orphaned (if indeed 20-somthing ladies can be orphans). Apparently penniless with only £100 per year to her name (this was thought to be a paltry sum in Jane Austen's day so clearly young Ms Poste is gently skulling up financial shit-creek), she throws herself upon the mercy of her relatives and with jutting chin and determined step, strikes out boldly for Sussex and Cold Comfort Farm. There she is greeted by the biblically populous and biblically named Starkadder clan who are all the proud owners of names which make them sound much more like extras in Lord of the Rings than gentle farming folk. Amos has his religion, Aunt Ada has her memories of something nasty in the woodshed, Elfine has her nature walks, Reuben has his chickens, Urk has his watervole obsession, Judith has Seth and Seth... well Seth has had just about everything with a pulse between Cold Comfort and Howling. Speaking from personal experience, farms are not places where you are encouraged to either lie abed, think genteel thoughts or sit around doing nothing all day aside from acting as a kind of graceful mobile decoration to the general day to day background. Accordingly Flora Poste decides to engage herself in useful farm based activies - none of which actually involve agriculture or animal husbandry of any sort. Much better to take in hand the wayward social, sexual and psychological issues of the family at large. And this she does with some aplomb, although to fill in the detail would be a big old spoiler so you should just go and read this surprisingly enjoyable book instead. This book made it to the 1001 list for being an incisive and witty dissection of rural life as seen through the eyes of a chic urbane invader or something like that.

  • Matthew Gatheringwater
    2019-04-30 00:15

    This may be one of the funniest books ever written and I pick it up whenever I feel inclined to have a whine and a moan. The protagonist, Flora Poste, is a bracing antidote for anyone inclined to be a sad sack. A student of the higher common sense, she understands that there are few troubles in life than cannot be set to rights or at least ameliorated by good hygiene, good manners, correct thoughts, and the proper foundation garments.What I admire most about Flora is her unwillingness to give in to the artistic fashion of celebrating the misery of the human condition. Rather than getting ensnared in the sukebind of life, she believes we must wield our scrantlets. "Nature," she says, "is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy."This edition of the book has the added pleasure of an appreciation of Stella Gibbons in the form of an introduction by Lynn Truss (in which we are treated to hear what Virgina Woolf--a bit of a sad sack herself--had to say about Gibbons) and irreverant cover illustrations by Roz Chast, (whose style will be instantly recognizable to New Yorker readers. In fact, my one criticism of this edition is that it isn't illustrated throughout.Beyond the benefits of humor, this book has been invaluable as my first introduction to the works of the Abbe Fausse-Maigre, which have provided guidance and inspiration throughout my life.

  • Duane
    2019-05-07 22:16

    Cold Comfort Farm is a stinging satire and outrageously funny parody of the literature about rural English farm life, especially by Sheila Kaye-Smith, Mary Webb, and to a lesser extent, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. I haven't read much by the former mentioned authors to appreciate the full extent of Gibbons jabs, but it doesn't matter because the humor is obvious. Gibbons writing was very clever and her cast of characters would have made Dickens proud. Very funny and very entertaining. 4.5 stars.

  • Joey Woolfardis
    2019-05-07 02:05

    Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003."For, if she lived at Cold Comfort as a guest, it would be unpardonable impertinence were she to interfere with the family's mode of living; but if she were paying her way, she could interfere as much as she pleased."A wonderful novel, possibly the only modern classic I will ever fully enjoy. Not a comedy but a satire, but done with a love for pastoral classical writing that I think the author felt slightly embarrassed by. Think of Austen's Emma and you have the protagonist, Flora. Think of Bertha Mason of Thornfield Hall and you have Aunt Ada Doom, but each pulled and twisted to become extremes. There are smatterings of Heathcliffe, Bathsheba, and all the other archetypes of Classical Literature. Great writing, though often too short and blunt (though we can blame my love of lengthy Victorian prose for this). Modern Classics are often written as an antithesis to the ridiculously long Classics, yet condensation is not always welcome. Gibbons does it very well here and with a humour that is both mild and forthcoming. It is a Modern Classic with no grudges except, perhaps, just a desire to be a little more to the point. "...Flora seated herself upon the bed and read aloud from the Pensées... "Can we be sure that an elephant's real name is elephant? Only mankind presumes to name God's creature; God himself is silent upon the matter."Blog | Reviews | Instagram | Twitter

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-04-25 21:59

    Nineteen year old Flora Poste, freshly orphaned and impossibly jaunty, decides to live with strange, barely civilized relatives in rural Sussex. The Starkadders are a mix of fire and brimstone religiosity, untrammeled sexual urges, pathological family ties, feigned mental illness, and general slovenliness. Cold Comfort Farm is a 1932 parody of Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, and D.H. Lawrence, with themes of Pygmalion and the meddling of Emma Woodhouse thrown in, and jabs at Eugene O'Neill, avant garde film, and Freud. It's kind of a hot mess, actually. The most flattering thing that can be said about it is that it's clever, for example, in this passage taking aim at Lawrence:The reply came with clotted rage, but behind the rage were traces of some other and more obscure emotion; a bright-eyed grubbing in the lore of farmyard and bin, a hint of the casual lusts of chicken-house and duck-pond, a racy, yeasty, posty-toasty interest in the sordid drama of man's eternal blind attack and woman's inevitable yielding and loss.I'm not sure who exactly is being mocked here, but I laughed at the absurd geometries of the farm:Its stables and outhouses were built in the shape of a rough octangle surrounding the farmhouse itself, which was built in the shape of a rough triangle. The left point of the triangle abutted on the farthest point of the octangle, which was formed by the cowsheds, which lay parallel with the big barn....Leaving the house by the back door, you came up sharply against a stone wall running right across the yard, and turning abruptly, at right angles, just before it reached the shed where the bull was housed, and running down to the gate leading out into the ragged garden where mallows, dog's-body and wild turnip were running riot. The bull's shed abutted upon the right corner of the dairy, which faced the cowsheds. The cowsheds faced the house, but the back door faced the bull's shed. From here a long-roofed barn extended the whole length of the octangle until it reached the house. Here it took a quick turn, and ended....The dairy overlooked the front door, in face of the extreme point of the triangle which formed the ancient buildings of the farmhouse.From the dairy a wall extended which formed the right-hand boundary of the octangle, joining the bull's shed and the pigpens at the extreme end of the right point of the triangle. A staircase, put in to make it more difficult, ran parallel with the octangle, half-way round the yard, against the wall which led down to the garden gate.But it's also overly knowing and twee - Gibbons actually indicates in the text "what I consider the finer passages with one, two, or three stars" in the manner of a Baedeker travel guide recommending a hotel. You can't escape the fact that you're constantly being winked at, which after 200 pages feels like being bludgeoned with cudgels.

  • Diane
    2019-04-23 01:53

    Cold Comfort Farm is the perfect comfort read. It is a wonderful blend of British charm, comic characters, and a clever young woman at the heart of it all.Flora Poste cannot abide a mess. After her parents died and left her with only 100 pounds a year, she decided to live off relatives for a while. She settles on some cousins, the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. When Flora arrives at the farm, she sets out to make some changes and tidy everything up, even if it means upsetting her strong-willed aunt, Ada Doom.My favorite parts of the book are when Flora decides to give her wispy, poetry-loving cousin Elfine a makeover that improves her love life, and when Flora helps her cousin Seth become a movie star. Flora even comes up with the perfect way of dealing with her Aunt Ada, thanks to a well-timed Jane Austen quote.This book is so delightful and has become such a favorite that I will never do it justice. I think this is the third time I've read it, and each time it makes me smile and laugh. (FYI, the 1995 movie version with Kate Beckinsale is also a delight.) I highly recommend Cold Comfort Farm the next time you want to lift your spirits. Favorite Quotes[Flora was asked what work she will do] "When I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as Persuasion, but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, 'Collecting material.' No one can object to that.""I have a tidy mind, and untidy lives irritate me. Also, they are uncivilized.""One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favourite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing-gown."

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-04-23 02:01

    Frankly, I used to think that British humor was bland until while I was reading this book. This is so funny that even if I didn't probably get some of the nuances of the 30's small farm in Howling, Sussex because of the town folk's different dialects, the scenes are hilarious. Imagining them and converting those situations to our local barrio, makes me want to forget my dream of writing a memoir and instead write a similar short novel like this. Probably with my hometown, specifically the coconut plantation, as the setting.Cold Comfort Farm tells the story of Flora Poste the most delightful character that I so far encountered in British literature. She is as funny as Anne (of the Green Gables), as fun-seeker as Madame Bovary, as loving as Elizabeth Bennett but as bosy and nosy as Emma yet as human as well. She is this London orphan girl (like Jane Eyre and many other orphans in British literature) who has to live with her relatives in the mysterious Cold Comfort Farm. She is not your toddler orphan though. She is already 19 and she has other prospects but the allure of the farm, as she loves animals, is so strong that she leaves the city to see how she fits into a life in a county. Armed with her determination to change things around her, she transforms each life of her relatives - the ignitable and extremely obstinate family - the Starkadeers. At some point, I was imagining the Addams family minus their paper thin bodies as the farm people of Cold Comfort should be stout and healthy with all the fresh milk, barney and honey that are easily available.They say that this book is a parody of the works of Mary Webb but I shame on me, I had to google to find out who she was. They also say that this is a satire particularly of the social machinations of (Jane) Austen, the melodramatic doom of (Thomas) Hardy and the overblown romanticism of (D. H.) Lawrence. I read at least one book by those authors (3 by Austen, the highest) but I did not really get the connections, e.g., why they are saying this. I just focused on the story and the funny situations. For example, when Flora is about to leave the train at the beginning of the story, her London relatives are at the platform of the train station. Her parting words to her relatives: "Feed the parrot!" Her relatives say: "What parrot?" (because they don't have parrot at their London apartment). Flora says: "Any parrot!" Isn't that funny? It's like when a gay radio DJ joked one morning saying that he would bring roses at home to give to his wife and they he realized that he doesn't have a wife hehe. Simple lines yet funny to me. I dunno. I am going crazy, I guess.Just read this one, will you?

  • Alex
    2019-04-30 19:57

    Virginia Woolf is enraged, she writes to Elizabeth Bowen in 1932, that the esteemed Prix Etranger award has gone to someone named Stella Gibbons. "Who is she?" she asks. "What is this book?"The Starkadders were not like most families. Life burned in them with a fiercer edge.And when Flora Poste is flung among them in their great crouching, rotting farm, she immediately commences meddling. She aspires to write Persuasion, but she's more of an Emma herself - Emma accidentally transported to Northanger Abbey to find the Earnshaws squatting there. There'll be no butter in hell.But Flora is a tidy person: "Unless everything is tidy and pleasant and comfortable all about one, people cannot even begin to enjoy life. I cannot endure messes." So she promptly sets about tidying things - tidying things for Hardyan rake Seth, Pygmalion-ready Elfine, brimstone-breathing Amos, and even for poor Aunt Ada Doom (name your cat that) who saw something nasty in the woodshed*, which does beg the question, has there ever been anything in a woodshed that was not nasty? Don't say wood. Leave wood in a woodshed for ten minutes and it's teeming with centipedes.* yes I spent 20 minutes making that video, yes it was an excellent use of my timeThis is a very funny book. I don't know how far funny takes us. Is funny alone enough to make a book great? And does literature have any sort of obligation to give good advice? Because no one should actually be like Flora. Flora works only in a very tidy world. In the untidy real world, people like Flora don't get invited to parties.Gibbons is a little too pleased with herself by the end, which goes on like the last scene in Star Wars. We still have questions. Did the goat live? Will anyone ever find Graceless's leg, which fell off and no one even noticed for half a day?To answer Virginia Woolf's question: Stella Gibbons wrote 22 books but we remember only this one, which has survived all this time because everyone just likes it very much. It has, pound for pound, the best names this side of Dickens. It's very funny and very tidy. There are worse things to give the Prix Etranger to.

  • Algernon
    2019-05-02 20:57

    Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. Stella Gibbons turns her attention instead on having a good time and on romance, penning a rusticated novel of manners in which Flora Poste, a highly educated and sophisticated young lady from the London high society sets out to clear up the muddle of Cold Comfort Farm. The unprepared reader might be tempted to compare Gibbons with P G Wodehouse, and at least in one aspect, he/she will not be far off the mark : this is a laugh out loud comedy displaying wicked wit and sparkling turns of phrase. A more careful examination of the text reveals major differences in approach. While Wodehouse is escapist, focusing almost exclusively on clubhouse humour and wealthy young rascals pulling pranks while visiting sumptuous manors, Gibbons is launching barbed satirical arrows at the pomposity and pretentiousness of her literary peers, setting her sights on such big names as D H Lawrence, Emile Zola or Thomas Hardy. Some of these 'naturalist' school authors and critics felt outraged at the daring debut author lampooning of their favorite style, but I think modern readers will appreciate the liberating breath of fresh air through the dark and twisted avenues of atavistic passions they embraced (I believe I got the bug of flowery prose from Gibbons). In the foreword, the author explains:I think, quite without meaning to, I presented a kind of weapon to people, against melodrama and the over-emphasising of disorder and disharmony, and especially the people who rather enjoy it. I think the book could teach other people not to take them seriously, and to avoid being hurt by them. The novel then is built on the clash of two philosophies: Flora Poste versus the Starkadders. (no relation to the Blackadders other than as a source of top notch Brit humour). How did the two come together at Cold Comfort Farm? The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living. versus :There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort. Left impoverished by her careless parents, Flora must impose herself for sustenance and shelter on distant relatives. She accepts the invitation to Cold Comfort Farm, somewhere in the middle of the Downs, where the extended Starkadder clan pass the time harvesting the 'swedes', gathering the 'sukebind', milking cows that are prone to lose their limbs when you turn your head, and in general living close to the land and harboring dark secrets in their hearts. Their dumbness said: 'Give up. There is no answer to the riddle; only that bodies return exhausted, hour by hour, minute by minute, to the all-forgiving and all-comprehending primaeval slime' Flora Poste, despite her young age, is a lady who knows what she wants from life and how to get it :Unless everything is tidy and pleasant and comfortable all about one, people cannot even begin to enjoy life. I cannot endure messes.She is determinate and bossy, devious and imaginative. When she witnesses the muddle of repressed emotions and twisted relationships she has landed in, she sets out immediately putting everybody in their places. In one of the most memorable scenes in the novel, the metaphor is put into practice when she releases Big Business, the long suffering bull kept locked in a dark and damp shed out in the open meadows, under the sun and the wind. Then she starts on her relatives, giving advice on family planning to a servant girl that gets pregnant year after year, agricultural advice to the serious older son, religious pointers to the family father, fashion tips to the scatterbrained young lady of the farm, and so on ... The Starkadders were simply ripe for rows and mischief. Only a person with a candid mind, who is usually bored by intrigues, can appreciate the full fun of an intrigue when they begin to manage one for the first time. If there are several intrigues and there is a certain danger of their getting mixed up and spoiling each other, the enjoyment is even keener. Only one person seems immune to Flora's emancipation program : Aunt Ada Doom, the secretive matriarch of the Starkadders, the spider queen who lives the life of a recluse, locked in her own chambers at the farm since youth ( I saw something nasty in the woodshed!is her hilarious catchphrase), but pulling the strings of everyone else from that den, trying as hard to keep the Starkadders tied to the farm as Flora tries to liberate them. Persons of Aunt Ada temperament were not fond of a tidy life. Storms were what they liked; pleanty of rows, and doors being slammed, and jaws sticking out, and faces white with fury, and faces brooding in corners, and faces making unnecessary fuss at breakfast, and plenty of opportunities for gorgeous emotional wallowings, and partings for ever, and misunderstandings, and interferings, and spyings, and, above all, managing and intriguing. The screwball plot can be appreciated well enough without getting into academic research of the books and the characters lampooned by Gibbons, but these elements are integral to the text, and make the novel a good candidate for further inspection and for many re-readings. Some of the literary allusions are closer to the surface, my favorites being the encounters between Flora and the 'naturalistic' writer visiting the farm, Mr. Mybug, an annoying exponent of misogyny who cannot believe that Wuthering Heights could have been written by a woman. Flora deals succintly with his sillyness and with his attempts at seduction: By now Flora was really cross. Surely she had endured enough for one evening without having to listen to intelligent conversation? Here was an occasion, she thought, for indulging in that deliberate rudeness which only persons with habitually good manners have the right to commit. Regarding his literary theories, she is even more sharp: One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favourite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing-gown. The last quote stirs in me familiar feelings, such as finding one of my favorite five star novels here on Goodreads dismissed with a one star rating and sometimes even with a fierce rant about how much it sucks. And so it goes ...Coming back to Gibbons' prose, the satire is even stronger in her manner of presentation. She devised a three star system for the benefit of critics, making it easier for them to identify the passages of high literary achievement, the ones so admired in her male counterparts. Here's just one example of what I'm talking about: His huge body, rude as a windtortured thorn, was printed darkly against the thin mild flame of the declining winter sun that throbbed like a sallow lemon on the westering lip of Mockuncle Hill, and sent its pale, sharp rays into the kitchen through the open door. The brittle air, on which the fans of the trees were etched like ageing skeletons, seemed thronged by the bright, invisible ghosts of a million dead summers. The cold beat in glassy waves against the eyelids of anybody who happened to be out in it. High up, a few chalky clouds doubtfully wavered in the pale sky that curved over against the rim of the Downs like a vast inverted pot-de-chambre. Huddled in the hollow like an exhausted brute, the frosted roofs of Howling, crisp and purple as broccoli leaves, were like beasts about to spring. I reached the end of the adventures of Flora Poste at Cold Comfort Farm much to soon, just as I wanted to spend more time in her company (useful hint : I hear there's a sequel !). Stella Gibbons is now for me much more than a screwball writer, she is a poster kid of both feminism and common sense. Dare I say she is better than Wodehouse? A case of apples and oranges here, why not enjoy both? I wish she were as prolific as the creator of Jeeves and Psmith, but her attacks on the literary establishment were not without consequences. Gibbons never reached the same succes with her next novels. Sometimes though, reputations can be built on one hit wonders.---I have a few quotes left over, I didn't find a way to insert into the text, but I will add them anyway, hoping you will enjoy them even out of context: Mrs. Smiling's character was firm and her tastes civilized. Her method of dealing with wayward human nature when it insisted on obtruding its grossness upon her scheme of life was short and effective; she pretended that things were not so: and usually, after a time, they were not. Christian Science is perhaps a larger organization, but seldom so successful. --- A straight nose is a great help if one wishes to look serious. --- There they all were. Enjoying themselves. Having a nice time. And having it in an ordinary human manner. Not having it because they were raping somebody, or beating somebody, or having religious mania or being doomed to silence by a gloomy, earthy pride, or loving the soil with the fierce desire of a lecher, or anything of that sort.

  • Mike Puma
    2019-05-16 19:16

    Review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-05-17 01:05

    If, like me, you've seen the 1996 movie adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, with Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Rufus Sewell (mmmm yum!), you'll know that there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm and that Aunt Ada Doom saw something "narsty" in the woodshed when she was two. God I wish I had a memory like that! All the joys of the movie and more are in the book, a wonderful, clever, readable satire of the classic rural novel et al Thomas Hardy and the like. Having finally read Tess of the d'Urbevilles I finally get the subtleties of Cold Comfort Farm.This book is an absolute joy to read. It was first published in 1932 but set "in the near future", allowing for some fun liberties taken with the 20s and 30s of last century, including some surprisingly modern speech and sensibilities. Like I said, this is one of the most readable classic novels I've ever read, and I can definitely see myself re-reading it many times over the course of my life, and finding more joy in it each time.Flora Poste finds herself an almost penniless orphan at 19, and decides to live off her relatives. Her best friend, Mrs Smiling, doesn't think it's a good idea but Flora is determined. Of the four relatives she writes to, only cousin Judith of Cold Comfort Farm provides her with enough of an enticement: speaking of "righting the wrong" done her father, and being in general very mysterious. Better the uncertainties of Cold Comfort than the old lecherous uncle in Scotland.Cold Comfort Farm has a long history, the farmhouse having been burnt down, rebuilt, added to, burnt down, rebuilt and added to time and again over the centuries. It's bleak, and the Starkadders believe there is a curse on the farm. The dairy cows have names like "Pointless" and "Aimless" and keep falling apart. Literally. Garrulous Aunt Ada Doom holds them all in thrall, and refuses to let any of them leave. Her daughter Judith is miserable and a bit obsessive about her younger son Seth, who spends his time bedding the girls in the area; while her older son Rueben is obsessive about the farm but his father Amos, one of those fire-and-brimstone preachers, thinks to leave it to old Adam, who falls asleep while milking the cows and washes the dishes with a twig. It's a nuthouse, alright, including Judith's daughter Elfine who floats about the moors in a cape and romantisizes the young upper class Dick who lives nearby.Flora immediately wants to fix things, and sets about figuring each of them out and improving things at Cold Comfort. She's a matter-of-fact young woman, intelligent and firm and with a dry humour. A writer, Mr Mybug, who is working on a book about how the Brontë sisters stole their brother Bramwell's stories and passed them off as their own - because "no woman could possibly have written Wuthering Heights", is staying in the nearby village and becomes enamored of Flora, seeing breasts in every hill and penises in every - well, phallic-looking thing, on their walks together.The stems reminded Mr Mybug of phallic symbols and the buds made Mr Mybug think of nipples and virgins. Mr Mybug pointed out to Flora that he and she were walking on seeds which were germinating in the womb of the earth. He said it made him feel as if he were trampling on the body of a great brown woman. He felt as if he were a partner in some mighty rite of gestation. (p.121)This is such a delightful, tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes tongue-out-of-cheek) book, making gentle but merciless fun of rural life, for both the lower, working and upper classes. Everyone, in fact. Even Flora is not exempt from gentle ridicule. But it's not a mean-spirited book, nor a snobbish one. It's full of humorous details, eccentric characters and beautiful prose, and the pacing - yes, the all-important pacing - is swift but not fast, tightly plotted and structured and zipping. I'm very gushy with this book, I know, but I highly recommend it and it's a real shame that all Gibbons's other books are out of print, because I would love to read one.

  • El
    2019-05-12 01:05

    This is one of those books I've been trying to avoid for a while, inexplicably since I saw the 1995 movie, of which I remembered very little except for two words: Rufus. Sewell.Oh, Rufus. It was this movie that made me fall for him, and then I saw Dark City, and that was it. Smitten. Don't ask me to explain it. I cannot. It would just be a stuttering mess of an anatomy lesson: "Cheekbones! Guh, eyes!" I don't know. It's just... when I see him, dirty things start happening inside. Maybe because in Cold Comfort Farm he played Seth, the sexy one with the smoldering sex-eyes, so appropriate.I digress.So, with my ravenous appetite for Rufus (who, I might add, is the only thing that makes the recent movie Hercules even remotely worth watching), why did I wait so long to read the book? Couldn't I just picture Rufus on every page? The thing is I'm notoriously bad at reading comedies. I watch them, I practically live one, comedies are great. But when I read humor? Strange things happen - like I don't recognize humor very well in print, or it feels so... cheap, or not as cute as it thinks it is. And I figured this would be one of those kinds of books.It's not! It is funny, and it all works and I enjoyed it. Every freaking minute of it.Flora Poste is a young woman who finds herself an orphan. (Not funny yet!) She's not quite old enough to live on her own, so she looks at a variety of options, different family members in different places, and lands on Cold Comfort Farm because, well... they don't turn her down and she wouldn't have to share a room with a parrot. She doesn't have high hopes for the experience, though, being all... not-rural herself. But she goes and hilarity ensues (and by hilarity I mean I chuckled; I mean, let's not get crazy here).It's just a fun read. It's not a perfect novel, but I enjoy the concept of it. It's a mockery of the melodramatic style of books written in the 1930s and before - DH Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, as a couple examples. I enjoyed that angle. There are a few open-ended questions, but that too is actually okay here. As in, I don't feel too troubled by it, though give me time and I could easily have a brain aneurysm over this.If you're looking for complex characters, this is not the book for you. These characters are not deep, which I feel was also intentional. There are a lot of characters, but Flora is there to fix them all if she can. Who is she to decide? Well, that doesn't really matter. She's da boss and she will edumacate and free her extended family like it's her job. It's all fairly simplistic, and no one really grows, but again it didn't ruin the story for me at all. (Seriously, this is all so unlike me, I don't even know what's going on right now.)I guess I just needed this light dose of humor right now. It just felt like perfect timing. I can't say the same will happen for you.Interestingly enough, it's just like Rufus Sewell - well, without the eyes or the cheekbones or... whatever. I can't necessarily explain why I like the book (or want to jump his bones), but they both just work for me.

  • Barry Pierce
    2019-05-09 19:05

    Eh, it just wasn't for me. I really wanted to like this but it just felt too... saccharine. The sweetness of it turned sour in my mind. However, the writing is good and very simplistic, nobody would find any trouble with it. The cast of characters are very memorable and incredibly idiosyncratic. I did enjoy the parody of the novels of Hardy and the Brontës and such but it was very hit and miss for me. Oh well.

  • Anne
    2019-04-25 21:10

    Stella Gibbons' affectionately comical nod to traditional Victorian novels had me laughing on the third page, when she explained a minor character's passion for her unparalleled, world-renowned collection of brassières. The characters in this book are so vividly realized, and they are all the more ridiculous for how seriously they take themselves. The basic story, for anyone who is interested: When she is nineteen years old, Flora Poste's parents die, and as she does not want to earn her living, she decides to find some suitable relatives to live with. These turn out to be the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm ("There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort..."), including Seth, who loves the talking pictures, Reuben, who wants to run the farm himself, Amos, the father who weekly preaches fire and brimstone to the people of Beershorn, Judith, the mother who spends most of her time languishing in her bedroom, and Aunt Ada Doom (what a splendid name!), who seems to have gone crazy after having seen "something nasty in the woodshed" when she was very young, and thus lords it over the rest of the family and refuses to let them leave the farm. Flora takes it upon herself to "tidy up" Cold Comfort Farm and free its inhabitants--her cousins--from their oppressively depressing lives.This book is such a hoot--I recommend it to just about anyone. :)

  • Floripiquita
    2019-05-21 17:54

    ¿La novela cómica más divertida de la literatura inglesa del siglo XX? Para mí va a ser que no. Y eso que le reconozco el mérito de reírse con gracia y a base de bien de Cumbres borrascosas, que personalmente detesto.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-05-17 20:21

    Although I don't think this the comic masterpiece everyone else does, I was very struck by this passage on p93 - written in 1932, and seemingly predicting the 1960s. In London our heroine goes to a meeting of the Cinema Society :"The audience had run to beards and magenta shirts and original ways of arranging its neckwear... it had sat through a film of Japanese life called 'Yes' made by a Norwegian film company in 1915 with Japanese actors, which lasted an hour and three-quarters and contained twelve close-ups of waterlilies lying perfectly still on a scummy pond and four suicides, all done extremely slowly."Nice one, Stella. This still goes on by the way!

  • Roger Brunyate
    2019-04-21 21:00

    Rural GothicThe humor of this glorious funny book resides mainly in Gibbons' masterly control of prose style; if you have only seen a filmed version, you know less than half of what the author has to offer. Yes, she creates a wonderful gallery of extraordinary characters, and the story clips along nicely if rather predictably, but it is the author's language that really gets you laughing out loud. Written in 1932, the book is a parody of a certain kind of rural melodrama popular at the time, but of the authors mentioned by the Oxford Companion to English Literature as models only D. H. Lawrence is still much read today. But no matter; there are strong echoes of Hardy and the Brontes as well, and anyway the language works just fine on its own. It ranges from gothic descriptions of a landscape primeval and stark, throbbing with the fecund sap of plant and beast, to gnomic sayings delivered in a rural dialect so thick as to be incomprehensible if one did not realize that half the words in it were probably made up by the author. And, as an added incentive, Gibbons has helpfully marked her most purple passages with two or three stars, "according to the method perfected by the late Herr Baedecker." Flora Poste, twenty, fashionable, well educated, and recently orphaned, decides against working for a living so writes around to various distant relatives asking them to take her in. She decides to go to live with the Starkadders, some distant cousins whose alarming address is Cold Comfort Farm, Howling, Sussex. (This will seem less odd if you know English place-names, and throughout the book Gibbons' choice of names is both almost plausible and brilliantly absurd.) The farm is described in the first of the starred passages, beginning thus: Dawn crept over the Downs like a sinister white animal, followed by the snarling cries of a wind eating its way between the black boughs of the thorns. The wind was the furious voice of this sluggish animal light that was baring the dormers and mullions and scullions of Cold Comfort Farm. The farm was crouched on a bleak hill-side, whence its fields, fanged with flints, dropped steeply to the village of Howling a mile away….The extended family she meets there, all with short biblical names of Old Testament force, is equally dour, and the living conditions are primitive to say the least. The household is presided over by the matriarch, Great Aunt Ada Doom, who "saw something nasty in the woodshed" as a child and has barely emerged from her room since, but terrifies the others into submission for fear of completing her descent into total insanity. But Flora determines to take the farm and the family in hand, beginning with the youngest, the nature spirit Elfine, and working up to the old woman. The manner in which she does so forms the plot of the rest of the book. The gothic style which the author handles so well depends upon the ability to evoke impending doom, and Gibbons virtually redefines the verb "impend." So the first half of the novel at least is superb. However, as light and warmth are brought into Cold Comfort Farm, the doom begins to dissipate. In nineteenth-century terms, Gibbons' influence changes from Bronte to Jane Austen, whom she can certainly match in witty observation, though at the loss of the gothic elemental power. The plot, too, lacks suspense; everything that Flora undertakes to do works out with few surprises; the main parody element at the end is the neatness with which it all does work out, even including the resolution of Flora's own romantic needs. But in exchange, as others on this site have mentioned, Stella Gibbons achieves a transformation of a different kind: the forbidding cast of caricatures to whom we are first introduced has become a family of real people, whom Flora finds herself caring about quite a lot. And the reader too. Skill of this sort takes Stella Gibbons beyond the ranks of a mere parodist and reveals her as a true novelist. [I actually read the book in the older Penguin edition, which has a fine cover, quite relevant to the period, taken from a painting by Stanley Spencer. But it is rather sloppily printed. The Penguin de luxe edition (which I have seen but didn't buy) is much better produced, and has the added bonus of a cover by Roz Chast—a masterly match-up of two funny women working eighty years apart.]

  • lorinbocol
    2019-05-17 23:16

    va bene che per essere stato scritto nel 1932 è parecchio disinibito. va bene che vi si discorre di metodi contraccettivi, che si irridono sottilmente le semplificazioni psicoanalitiche da settimana enigmistica e che, tra un pudding e l'altro, ricorrono considerazioni su capezzoli, nudismo, britannica lascivia in merito ai costumi sessuali e, per dire, boccioli di rododendro dall'aspetto fallico e imperioso.e va bene, benissimo anzi, che le fanciulle e le signore del romanzo smettano il tweed quando arriva la sera: una lettrice di mondo apprezza sempre romanzi in cui qualcuno si cambia d'abito per la cena (per tacer dei leggiadri vestitini da cocktail). ciononostante.davvero questo romanzo è ininterrottamente in commercio da oltre 80 anni, è stato più volte adattato dalla BBC per la televisione e la radio, ed è diventato finanche un film? apprenderlo mi muove a stupore, perché la storia non prende, le battute vorrebbero essere brillanti ma quelle che strappano il sorriso sono in diluizione omeopatica, e la noia arriva anche prima del previsto. come un tè servito alle tre. insomma è una delusione notevole la storia della giovane flora poste, cento sterline annue di rendita e una trasferta da londra al sussex. più che altro effetto flora batterica, direi.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-02 01:23

    I began this book thinking: "Wow, very witty, very interesting, very much in the 4 star range..." To: "Umm...less interesting than I thought, but engagingly quirky and the English humor isn't bad...maybe 3 stars" And finally: "O.K. this is just stupid. The main character reminds me of Mary Poppins meets the setting of "Napoleon Dynamite" where he works on that creepy farm and the weathered farmhand offers him raw egg-juice...this is a slightly funny 2 stars and I hope I can get through the last four pages." Honestly, after reading this book, I can understand why it is considered a classic that isn't a classic. It is just a flat-out strange book. I can't fathom how it was printed in the first place. It's a parody? Well, that's fine, but sometimes that and some witty jargon just isn't enough. I closed this book with a roll of the eyes (especially at the last line) thinking: I guess I just had to be there. And on a side note, I don't know if the author was simply trying to demonstrate how well read she was, but all the literary allusions peppered in here and there became tiresome.

  • Meredith Holley (Sparrow)
    2019-05-08 01:15

    I found this story positively delightful. It is true, what you hear, that it is very put-down-able, but that is something I appreciate about it. And it definitely picks up steam about halfway through. It is about a very sensible girl, who uses her good sense to clean up a family. I think it’s a lot like Polyanna (I’ve only seen the Hayley Mills movie, but I imagine the book has to be pretty similar), but creepy instead of saccharine. It has this P.G. Wodehouse feel of calm irony in the face of disaster, but, then, also, a masculine hostility and danger that Ms. Flora Poste coolly navigates.I’m usually pretty good with dialect and colloquialisms, but I have to admit those held me up every once in a while here. There is also some . . . magical realism? Or really literal, punny, slap-stick? Or something that caught me off guard every once in a while. But, I thought Ms. Poste’s bitchiness was pretty entertaining and respectable. She’s sort of a lady Henry Higgins. I have this neighbor who is a real busybody. Cartoonish, almost. She’s everywhere, taking pictures of your outdoor maintenance, stopping people from smoking on the HOA property, expressing concern about pipes and roofs and things like that. It’s very off putting, in the same way I imagine management by Flora Poste would be off putting. But, there is also something truly entertaining about it. It’s interesting to watch someone manage other people’s lives. (As long as you can get out of management yourself, or as long as it works out conveniently to you.) And there is this great quote at the end of the book that I think is hilarious, “Like all really strong-minded women, on whom everybody flops, she adored being bossed about.” Ha! I don’t identify with that at all, or think it’s really true, but it’s delightfully organized to think so.I also think that I benefited (finally!) from my lack of suspense. When people come to me and tell me that they have something they shouldn’t tell me, I think, Holy heck, I hope they don’t tell me. I think I remember the story that made me like this, and, trust me, you don’t want to know it. I saw something nasty in the woodshed. The whole Cold Comfort Farm gang is running around the whole time dropping hints of scandals that Ms. Poste might want to know, and I felt totally fine knowing or not knowing what those were. The main point was watching our lady be sensible and efficient and ironically detached. This worked out well for me because (view spoiler)[you basically never find out what any of the scandals are or have any of the mysteries resolved (hide spoiler)]. That was pretty hilarious to me. I enjoyed it. I also appreciated how (view spoiler)[everyone found their calling or true love (hide spoiler)] because of Ms. Poste’s solicitude. The whole story had this unlikely combination of irony, frank sensuality, slap-stick, creepiness, and Hollywood. I can see how it could get too built up, but I enjoyed just about every minute of it.

  • J.
    2019-05-08 21:18

    Meals at the farm were eaten in silence. If anyone spoke at all during the indigestible twenty minutes which served them for dinner or supper, it was to pose some awkward question, which, when answered, led to a blazing row; as, for example : 'Why has not (whichever member of the family was absent from table) -- come in to her food?' or 'Why has not - the barranfield been gone over a second time with the pruning snoot?' On the whole, Flora liked it better when they were silent, though it did rather give her the feeling that she was acting in one of the less cheerful German highbrow films...As it was, I came across this story in the shape of a PBS telefilm (that was very well done) a few years back; but I found that due to a lot of other books getting in the way, it was hard to pick up something already pre-visited in motion-picture form. So many other, unknown books waiting out there.Finally I managed to work it in, and now I'm very pleased to say how entertaining it is; probably best to let a few years elapse after the Pbs production. Author Stella Gibbons has given her readers a super-fatted calf to be slaughtered on the terms-- and in the voice-- of the well-meaning, harsh but sentimental "loam & lovechild" agri-novel, of the sort practiced by Thomas Hardy and lesser pens. (According to wikipedia, there are even more trying books in this genre, that were serialized for the Brit papers; which efforts Gibbons herself was charged with summarizing for the Evening Standard, and that aspect of the day-job became the novel we have here, her first. Interestingly, those authors took later opportunities to lash back, and little dissing / name-checking interactions took place; in the 3os!)Reading this and knowing the outcome, I realized that this would be the perfect book to find hiding away in a horrid little motor-court motel, perhaps, on an unnecessary and bleak business trip. Or maybe in a ratty vacation cottage, where perhaps in the unpleasant situation of staying for a rainy week with children, say, or with in-laws, a desperate vacationer might pick it up thinking it might somehow encompass a port in a storm. There is something reassuringly uplifting about sending up the most pious of literate morality plays, with wickedness and intentional spleen. Gibbons has an acute sense of what becomes most trying and exasperating in the slow, regular, nature-prompted rhythms of the tradition. (And certainly the damp beginnings of every David, Pip or Oliver that ever stalked the heath in search of new plot developments.) She gleefully lampoons everything from the early gothic sensibilities to the Brontes, and slashes away at every last flourish of the fore-doomed ancient family gone-to-seed. Contending, as they eternally must, with their own lustful and base inclinations in the coarse conditions of the wet English countryside. At some point the family with whom our Flora has unwillingly taken refuge decides that even if they were to sell their cow, it would have to go to the circus, due to the sorry condition of the beast :'Ay, and I would, too, if I could get hold of anyone to buy her, circus or no circus. But no one will. Ay, 'tes all the same. Cold Comfort stock ne'er finds a buyer. Wi' the Queen's Bane blighting our corn, and the King's Evil laying waste the clover and the Prince's Forfeit bring' black ruin on the hay and the sows as barren as come-ask-it -- ay, 'tes the same tale iverywhere, all over the farm...'For balance, Gibbons manages to work in a few substantial stabs at the adjacent if distant Bloomsburys, the arty-crafty Wm Morris interiors and society posturings that contrast diametrically with the doomed, simple country-mice of Cold Comfort Farm. And it must also be said that Gibbons doesn't spare the tender, self-improving, above-it-darling tendencies of her own slightly-too-posh London set.Rather than allowing the novel to close in catastrophic culture-clash, or in gruelingly inevitable, primitive decay, our Flora has designed progressive outcomes for nearly the whole cast of the novel. But you'll have to read it to find out how. Your next wretched vacation will be brighter for the sake of it. _________________________________note: it took a while but after thinking about it, I realize that this is a reverse Wizard Of Oz, wherein rather than a shy impressionable girlchild being cast amongst the cartoon hordes of Oz, uber-good and hyper-evil . . . we have a worldly-wise citygirl going amongst the gothic monstrosities of pious Kansas, who, rather than being so very good or evil, just kind of suck. Funnier that way. note on the edition: As mentioned above, the perfect way to encounter this novel would be on a casual, browsing basis, maybe off the shelf of a motel room. An unadorned Oxford or Penguin cover would suitably keep its secret intact. However, this is not the case here. As much as I love New Yorker illustrator and humorist Roz Chast, her signature neurotics do the book a disservice. Her over-the-top design and cover drawings here are the graphic equivalent of publishing Hamlet with a bold, black, "Deathly Serious" banner printed on its cover.

  • Katerina
    2019-05-09 19:10

    If this was the good effect of a little ordinary feminine gossip and a little interest in her poor childish affairs, the effect of a well-cut dress and a brushed and burnished head of hair might be miraculous.Разнообразные списки лучших романов всех времен, куда неизменно попадает "Неуютная ферма", скажут вам, что это "очень смешная пародия на романы Д.Г.Лоуренса и Томаса Гарди". Это верно, только не думаю, что Гиббонс написала роман, чисто чтобы поржать над коллегами.Если Оскар Уайлд рассказал, как важно быть серьезным, то Стелла Гиббонс объяснила, как важно четко оценивать ситуацию. Хочешь замуж - изволь носить красивые платья, тщательно причесываться и не декламировать стихи вместо обеда. Хочешь развлечься - сходи в театр, только выбери пьесу не такую, куда "ходят все умные люди", а чтобы в ней были понятные слова, а люди двигались по сцене. Хочешь вести интеллектуальные разговоры - ради бога, не в грязном сельском пабе. Надо доить коров - тут опять не до интеллектуальных разговоров. Главная героиня романа Флора, унаследовавшая "от отца - сильную волю, а от матери - тонкую лодыжку", - великолепный образец здравого смысла, правильного воспитания и легкого нрава:‘So I said, well, I was not quite sure, but on the whole I thought I liked having everything very tidy and calm all round me, and not being bothered to do things, and laughing at the kind of joke other people didn’t think at all funny, and going for country walks, and not being asked to express opinions about things (like love, and isn’t so-and-so peculiar?).Волею судеб Флора оказывается на ферме у родственников, которые никак не могут похвастаться ни здравым смыслом, ни воспитанием, ни, уж тем более, легким нравом:Persons of Aunt Ada’s temperament were not fond of a tidy life. Storms were what they liked; plenty of rows, and doors being slammed, and jaws sticking out, and faces white with fury, and faces brooding in corners, and faces making unnecessary fuss at breakfast, and plenty of opportunities for gorgeous emotional wallowings, and partings for ever, and misunderstandings, and interferings, and spyings, and, above all, managing and intriguing.Компания на ферме подобралась прекрасная. Тетка Ада "увидела что-то ужасное в сарае" и с тех пор работает затворницей и рассылательницей семейных проклятий. Тетка Джудит помешана на суссекском варианте Кларка Гейбла, не успевшем обрюхатить в окрестностях разве только коров. Дядька Амос проповедует в деревенской церкви (и вообще везде) об аде, который всех сожрет, не подавившись. Дикая нимфа Эльфина бегает по лесу в лохмотьях и проникновенно читает стихи. Короче, любой человек сошел бы там с ума, но Флора поступает иначе: она, наоборот, открывает в поселке неофициальные курсы здравого смысла. Особенно приятно, что все ее безумные родственники в конце концов получают диплом с отличием, а сама Флора - поездку на самолете, потому что, "согласитесь, Чарлз, каждый уважающий себя человек должен иметь самолет".

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-05-20 02:07

    I didn't get the joke. :/

  • Emily
    2019-05-16 21:06

    My love for the film version of this book is a bit ridiculous. I mean, I could watch it over and over and over and over again. It makes me smile just to think about it. Haven't we all seen something nasty in the woodshed?The book is also highly pleasurable. Part of the pleasure for me, is just in remembering those extraordinary scenes I'd seen on-screen - but the NEW pleasure is the absolute genius of Stella Gibbons' prose. I mean, damn, she can write a funny sentence even while describing some piece of natural beauty in a highly poetic way. She's like a funny Mary Oliver with a sharp social eye. To be honest, often when I read a novel, I just skip over all the "trees waved over the blue of the sky" sort of stuff. My brain goes, "Blah, blah, blue hills, wildflowers, branches, yeah, I got it - we're outside - next!" But Stella Gibbons made me read every word because I never knew when she was going to throw a zinger in the pot of description. Hell, the descriptions were often the funniest stuff! I almost wanted to start this book again when I finished it because there's so much STUFF in the details. On a sort of editorial note, the intro to this edition is really cool, too. It contextualized the work, prepared me to read it more carefully than I might have and also made a case for investigating the author's other work. And the cartoon cover is superfun.

  • Nicki Markus
    2019-05-12 22:21

    I came to this book wanting to like it and wanting to find it funny...but I was disappointed.I found the storyline a let down and never really cared about any of the characters who all seemed one dimensional.I read to the end to find out the answer to the mystery only to discover the author never bothers to tell us, which left me annoyed.I have given it two stars as I didn't loathe it - but I didn't feel it deserved more as I just never felt any real interest or excitement in it.This is not a book I'd be recommending to anyone any time soon...

  • Richard Newton
    2019-05-08 23:14

    Tremendous fun! That sounds an old fashioned thing to say, but this is in many ways an old fashioned book. It never made me laugh out loud, but amuses all the way through. The real joy is the language - there are jokes and funny passages, the story is rather sweet, but the way it is written is what makes this a classic. If you read it take the time to appreciate the way it is written.

  • Jonathan Terrington
    2019-05-12 01:20

    "We are not like other folk, maybe, but there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm..."Cold Comfort Farm is a classic novel that aims to subvert the idea of the 'farmhouse novel'. Stella Gibbons is good enough with her use of language certainly, but the plot itself fails in the delivery. By which I mean that, at times, the development of the story was rushed in favour of delivering an idea.What Gibbons is great at, however, is using nuance and subtlety. She creates a commentary on social issues, that is pointed without being pointed - it's suggestive. I mean this in how she refers to undergarments or the 'phallic symbols' that one character is obsessed with, or how she refers to one man being promised marriage to a much younger girl (on that issue - why is it considered more socially wrong for an older woman to marry a younger man but not the other way around?). When she refers to such things they are to suggest another - the notion of men being obsessive and the fact that women are not objects to be owned. Which is something I really liked about this classic - that it attacked the notion of male possession. A notion which is so, so, false.What I did not particularly like was the stock religious character. A character who stereotypically preached hellfire and damnation. I've seen too many characters like this in fiction and it furthers my belief that far too many people have the wrong impression of Christianity. So while I did understand that this was part of the point made by using this type of character, I also disapproved of it. The plot itself followed one younger woman, Flora Poste, who loses her parents and house - and since she cannot make a living (aside from drastic measures) she moves into Cold Comfort Farm with her eccentric and tragic relatives - the Starkadders. Throughout the rest of the book you see the element of a comedy of manners come into play, with Flora transforming the lives of the people around her (acting as matchmaker and general 'fixer-upper'). Yet, as mentioned previously there are times when the pacing of the novel is an issue and where dilemmas are solved too conveniently - to make way for the comedy and ideology you see.That said, it was a book that was interesting to read. As mentioned, I did really like the way the book tackled the concept of male possession - although again some other elements were overly stereotypical (even for a spoof). But yes, definitely worth a thoughtful read and consideration.

  • Laysee
    2019-05-21 01:01

    I needed a respite from sad stories. A good friend suggested that I steal away to Cold Comfort Farm. It was anything but cold comfort. My farm stay was pleasant and spiced with good laughs. Cold Comfort Farm is a comic parody of rural life. You meet a few cows with unbelievable names like Feckless, Graceless, Pointless and Aimless! You meet the insular Starkadder family where every male is named Adam or Seth or Reuben or Micah. Everyone believes he or she is doomed to eternal bondage to the farm. They are all cowed into subservience to old Mrs Starkadder, (Aunt Ada Doom), a Miss Havisham copycat who has lost her mind because in her childhood, she has seen "something nasty in the woodshed". There is a large brood of coarse but tender hearted Starkadder men and their relatives and a faery beauty called Elfine. My favorite is Amos whose pastime is to preach hell fire every two weeks ("Ye're all damned!") to the unrepentant at the Church of the Quivering Brethen. I would have missed this motley crew had I not invited myself alongside Flora Poste, a cousin of the Starkadders, to Cold Comfort Farm. Orphaned at age 20 with 100 pounds a year and no property, Flora decides on a "career as a parasite" to live on the charity of her cousins.My first impression of Flora was how insufferable she is. She comes across as self-assured, bold and impertinent. She seems at ease and unapologetic about imposing on others, dictating how she wants her meals served, and interfering with the Starkadder way of life. To her credit she is intelligent and astute in recognizing ways in which the farm can improve. Initially regarded with suspicion, she soon wins the affection and trust of the family. Mine too. On her account, things change for the better and each Starkadder character finds his or her place in the sun. I have to confess that I did not at first find this book as funny as most people did. Gibbons created an implausible world. Flora's friends and relations are ever ready to shelter her, pamper her with all good things, and rescue her at any time. Once I abandoned myself to this bucolic idyll and suspended disbelief, I began to appreciate the lighthearted pulse of the book. Cold Comfort Farm turned out to be a lovely detour from the darker and sadder books I have read.

  • Ferdy
    2019-05-22 21:14

    Spoilers-It took ages to get into this, the first half was so boring - the humour, the writing, the characters, none of it worked for me. I hated the silly made up words and the flowery descriptions, I know the descriptions were meant to be satirical but I found them annoying. Then there was the irritating Flora pushing herself into all the silly problems at Cold Comfort Farm and interfering with the nonsensical Starkadder family. I was on the verge of DNF'ing but at the halfway point everything just clicked with me. I started to really root for Flora to fix Cold Comfort and sort out the dysfunctional Starkadders, and I ended up loving all the silliness and ridiculousness. -I loved how Flora helped Elfine, Seth, Reuben, and Amos get their happy ending, especially when she introduced Seth and his raw sexuality to that film producer, it was hilarious. I wasn't very impressed with how Judith and Ada were dealt with though. It was a little too unbelievable how Judith with her disturbing Seth obsession happily took off to get therapy and replaced Seth with European churches. Also, I couldn't believe that Ada finally left Cold Comfort and stopped her twenty year tyranny all because Flora talked to her for a few hours and bought her some magazines. Her solution to Ada/Judith's problems was way too far fetched. But even with that it was still satisfying that everyone ended up relatively happy and normal.-I was disappointed with not finding out what Ada saw in that damn woodshed, and how the hell did she remember something that she saw when she was two years old? Also, what did the Starkadders do to Robert Poste and what was Flora owed? And what happened to that bloody goat?-Loved Adam ending up with his precious cows and pervy Urk marrying Meriam and Rennet/Mybug getting a happy ending. Despite it taking a long time to get into I ended up really enjoying Cold Comfort Farm, and the crazy antics of the Starkadders, and Flora's mission to fix them. All in all, a fun, cosy read.