The Big Read

No.88 – Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons Read 6/11/14

Affiliate Link: Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Classics)

Cold Comfort Farm if I hadn’t known when it was first published I would have thought it could have come out a few years ago. People often say that something is ‘timeless’ but this truly is what Cold Comfort Farm is like.

When Flora Poste, a 30’s socialite is orphaned she can either try and get a job with zero skills and become a modern woman or she can move in with one of her many relatives. In the end she decides to move in with the rather gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. Everybody there is rather strange and Cold Comfort is a nest of fraught emotions and bitter schemes so Flora makes the Starkadders her new project.

What this book does so well is satirise the rather romantic image of rural British life in the 1930s. It genuinely made me laugh on a number of occasions and the rest of the time I read it with an enormous grin on my face. It is a light hearted comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes it is making fun of many elements of society, including the difficult position single women were put in when they had to try and fend for themselves with little education, but rather than it being angry it simply rolls its eyes and sighs in a way characteristic to the British upper classes. “I’m homeless and all my family have died? Oh well, pass the gin dear.”

The Starkadders are hilarious as caricatures in their own right. Each of them seems to be an exaggeration of some troupe or other that is often found in books of similar era. The overbearing Grandmother who has everyone wrapped round her little finger, the mother at breaking point, the wild youngest daughter and the brooding son. They each are helped by Flora’s meddling in ways they didn’t expect and ways I certainly didn’t expect as a reader.

The ending is wonderful. It is the kind of book that sits so nicely as a story everything finished off neatly with a few surprises thrown in. It isn’t ground breaking or life changing it is simply good fun and an enjoyable read.


Would recommend to: read so you can say that you’ve read it.


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