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Review: Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbon


Cold Comfort FarmBook recommendations can be a rather tricky subject. I, for one, am fiercely loyal to my favourite books and while I frequently lend them to friends, family and colleagues, I’m always slightly wary of doing so in case they should come back with a less-than-glowing report. So while I take great pleasure in force-feeding my nearest and dearest with books, they are always under strict instructions to make ooh and aah over the brilliance of the book, rather than offer an honest opinion. I particularly remember lending Nicci French’s Killing Me Softly to a number of friends; one of whom tried to raise a probably rather valid point; but it being of a negative nature I just couldn’t bear to listen.

And so, since beginning my book blog, I’ve been tirelessly pestering fellow readers for their favourite books, specifically from the BBC Big Read. My Aunty Kate was one of many to make a suggestion, and with her recommendation coming all the way from Australia, I decided to honour it and bought myself a copy of Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm, a book I knew nothing about.

Published in 1932, Cold Comfort Farm is a parody of much that was written in its era; a time when books depicting a rural life frequently spoke of doom and disaster. It tells the tale of sensible and sophisticated Flora Poste, who, when orphaned at 19 descends upon her eccentric relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in deepest Sussex. Once there, she brings the farm back to life by injecting a much-needed dose of order into its inhabitants.

The characters are both endearing and entertaining; the protagonist an apt heroine for this satirical novel. Stella Gibbons demonstrates a unique craft in writing a book that fuses romance with chaos and is both comical and charming. Such a talent makes this light-hearted read worthy of its place in the BBC Big Read. I’d like to dedicate this post to my fabulous Aunty Kate for recommending me this wonderful tale.

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About Cold Comfort Farm

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, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years. But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious and ruthless parody of rural melodramas and purple prose, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.

About Stella Gibbons

Stella Dorothea Gibbons was an English novelist, journalist, poet and short-story writer.

Her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize for 1933. A satire and parody of the pessimistic ruralism of Thomas Hardy, his followers and especially Precious Bain by Mary Webb -the “loam and lovechild” genre, as some called it, Cold Comfort Farm introduces a self-confident young woman, quite self-consciously modern, pragmatic and optimistic, into the grim, fate-bound and dark rural scene those novelists tended to portray.

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0 comments on “Review: Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbon”

  1. That is one of those books I’ve had on my list to read forever because I loved the movie so much. Thanks to your post, I will remember to move it up on my list!

  2. Hi Monica – thanks for stopping by… I’ve never watched the film but it’s certainly a lovely book and well worth a read! 🙂

  3. Thank you for the lovely dedication! Nice to know that my tastes aren’t too
    ‘so last week’… I, too, have never seen the film, but the book remains permanently on the favourites shelf. Kate x

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