- Non Fiction
Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Classics) by Stella Gibbons
List Price: £7.99
Paperback: 256 Pages.
Published: 26 October 2006 by Penguin Classics
When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith; Amos; their sons, Seth and Reuben; and Aunt Ada Doom. But Flora loves nothing better than to organize other people.
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The great parody of the overlush darling buds of May-ness – Malcolm Bradbury
If ye doan want to feel the crimson fires of hell a-lickin' at your feet, read this book – Amos Starkadder.
I wish I had “Cold Comfort Farm” with me in the woodshed!” – Aunt Ada Doom.
This book is written a parody of the fashion for rural novels in the 1930s where the country is seen to be elemental and the people who live there to be more in touch with Mother Nature than others. If it was just that then it would be interesting to read, perhaps for the students of English Literature, but this book is so much more and readable in its own right, even today.
Flora Poste, orphaned and impoverished, comes to Cold Comfort Farm to live with a selection of relatives who have offered her a home out of a sense of justice because of the wrong done to her Father. Flora, who is a sensible soul and likes tidyness in everything, seeks to sort out the lives of the inhabitants of the farm. She does this by proffering sensible advice and using manipulation. Concluding in glorious triumph at a wedding she has arranged Flora flies off into the future with her true love.
This book is very, very funny. It is not just the names of the Starkadder family which will make you laugh nor the habit of the cows to shed their legs nor even the way in which Flora goes about her task to reform the family but it is the writing which makes this book classic comedy. Stella Gibbons writes with her tongue firmly in her cheek, laughing at herself by pointing out the absurdities in her own plot or allowing Flora to throw the cold water of sense on the ideas of some of the characters - she even puts asterisks before descriptive passages she considers particularly good to point them out to the reader.
The story makes fun of just about everything you can think of including childbirth, primitive religion, childhood trauma, film stars and literary snobbishness but it is also a well plotted story with well defined characters. It is set in the "near future" which is a world with lots of aeroplanes and videophones but which still uses horses and buggies !
This book has been a favourite of mine for many years and I always find that, on rereading, it is as special as ever.
by Debra Found
Worst fears realised darling Seth and Reuben too send gumboots.
I am always slightly wary of books which state on the cover "Probably the funniest book ever written - Sunday Times" as so often they turn out not to be more than mildly amusing in places. This was, however, definitely funny & more than that, clever too.
I suspected I was onto a winner when I found myself smiling on 2 separate occasions on the first page. The book continued on in this vein. I wouldn't say that it was rip roaringly funny but very clever & witty.
Our young heroine, Flora, is orphaned & inherited a stong will from her Father, a slender ankle from her mother & £100 a year. She decides to write to her distant relatives to see if she could live with them. The answers are quite wonderful & she decides to stay with her "Starkadder" relatives at Cold Comfort Farm for once they did a great wrong to her father, Robert Poste, & wishh to atone. What was that great wrong? Read it & see! So Flora goes to Cold Comfort Farm & sets about sorting them all out & bringing them into the twentieth century.
The characters at Cold Comfort Farm are quite wonderful. They are parodies of those characters that you meet in second (third & fourth) rate victorian novels. Amos the Bible bashing Father, Reuben the hard done by son waiting to inherit, Seth the golden boy on whom his Mother dotes, Rennett the simpleton & the barmy old Mother in her bedroom who once saw something in the woodshed....they are all there. Flora is a woman with great common sense & energy to change this family. She also has a very useful collection of friends in the right places. I suspect she would be very irritating to meet in reality but she was wonderful in this book.
The farm itself is a wonderful setting with it's outbuildings & however many rooms are required. It is out in the "wilds" of Sussex, 7 miles from the nearest village, Howling. The logistics of living in a way out farm are casually put aside when
required (as can be seen in many books). A letter is thrown casually on
the grass as the post plane passes!
I loved this book. It was so well written & clever. I smiled often throughout the book & occasionally burst into laughter. I can heartily recommend this book - whether you have read the type of book upon which this is a parody or not, you will still get much enjoyment out of reading this.
There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm.
This is a book, of which I have been aware, ever since I took an interest in Classical books. I had presumed that it was akin to the “Jane Austin” genre of books, so I got a great surprise and much pleasure when I read it.
I think that it can most easily be described as a “parody”. The Oxford English Dictionary's description of a parody is “An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comical effect”. The writer who immediately comes to mind is H E Bates, but the book's humour stretches well beyond his.
One instance, of perhaps “Goonish” humour, is when an airmail letter is dropped into a field from an aeroplane!!
Anyone with a liking for that type of humour should, without question, read this book.
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