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.
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.
Winner Of TheFemina Vie Heureuse Prize, Cold Comfort Farm Is A Wickedly Funny Portrait Of British Rural Life In The S 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 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.
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 Bront s, 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 andobscure 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 itdifficult, 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.
read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC s Big read Poll of 2003For, 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 littleto the point Flora seated herself upon the bed and read aloud from the Pens es 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 THIS BOOK RULES I mean seriously, oh my god It s funny Flora our protagonist is a feminist queen of getting sh t done and not taking anything from any man ever in the history of time All the characters are hilarious The language and voice are unreal I want to live inside this book Well, just kidding All of my trying to move in and permanently inhabit a fictional world energies are currently taken up by the film Mamma Mia Here We Go Again 2018 I am really tryna become Lily James as a young Meryl Streep Donna I am purely certain that I could handle the whole Sam situation much better and end up with him in the end but also still get with Harry and Bill in the interval.
SOMEONE TALK ABOUT MAMMA MIA WITH ME I CAN T BELIEVE HOW MUCH I LOVE IT.
But the book I love the book, too.
Bottom line Stella Gibbons you are a goddess among men and this book is DOPE AS HELL Sorry it s the only thing you re remembered for in spite of a long and productive career as a novelist but also can you blame reading audiences the world over This is good sh t.
Hilarious Review to come tomorrow This book was chosen by a book group in response to the general gloominess of January February and I found myself giggling throughout The set up is that Flora Poste, clutching her well thumbed copy of The Higher Common Sense, finds herself living at Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place inhabited by the Starkadder family all of whom have been reading far too much rural melodrama Gibbons has enormous fun with sexy Seth, all panther like grace and unbuttoned shirts hellfire preaching Amos, the family patriarch put upon Adam who washes up with a thorn twig while breaking his 80 year old heart over young Elfine Elfine herself who roves the countryside, writing poems and acting suitably fey and interloper Mr Mybug who can t help but see fecund sexuality in every leaf and bud.
It probably makes this book funnier if you ve read some of the books like Gone to Earth, Precious Bane, and a generous helping of Thomas Hardy and D.
H Lawrence though I m sure there are other authors who prompted Gibbons send up She also name checks Wuthering Heights, The Fall of the House of Usher, and I couldn t help thinking of Northanger Abbey and its satire on Gothic and sensation novels If only she s known Ted Hughes and his brooding nature poems, I feel sure he d have ended up in here All that said, I suspect this is funny on its own terms, even if the literary references don t stick Gibbons elegant writing hasthan a touch of Austen and Waugh about it, and she helpfully marks particularly purple passages with a 3 star rating in imitation of Michelin Light hearted and fun while also commenting on literary trends Gibbons was writing in the 1930s , this is bright and very funny.
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 muchlike 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.
Muriel Spark ish Tartness Cold Comfort Farm by Stella GibbonsThe first two thirds of it are much funnier than the last third Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn t a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora s plans at the last minute That said it s quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons sentence construction is a thing to behold she kind of combines mid twentieth century Muriel Spark ish tartness with the flawless, rolling rhythm of the Victorian sentence or something like that I can t believe this was her first novel it s so poised I did wonder why the novel is set in the near future and why there s all the emphasis on flying and other kinds of technologies Just to point up the primitiveness of Cold Comfort Farm If you re into Mundane Literature of the Victorian kind, read on.