A story of the sweetest sort that is only occasionally serious about its subjects and managed to give me a few belly-laughs as well enjoyable smiles at its distinct and clever wit. What Flora has in oodles is common sense. When her parents die and leave her with a hundred pounds a year she decides to write to all her relatives and ask if they want to take her on as a paying guest. Nobody does, but she does receive a letter from the Sussex Starkadders whose initial return is a letter which seems to admit she is owed something and has some rights to be supported, followed by a postcard with dour verses from the bible enscribed thereon.
Flora investigates and it turns out she has an enormously difficult job on her hands to civilise her cousins, but that's nothing to the job she has to humanise Aunt Ada Doom who once saw something nasty in the woodshed.
This is a fun read, light though seldom frothy, as it should be. The Introduction by Lynne Truss picks out some splendidly typical passages, my own favourite being:
"The long screams of the hunting owls tore across the night, scarlet lines on black. In the pauses, every ten minutes, they mated. It seemed chaotic, but it was more methodically arranged than you might think."
The mixture is wonderful, a dash of romanticism, a hint of passionate chaos and a smart aphorism to bring it all together. The style is wonderful throughout, but the story itself has a bit of a dying fall. Neverthless, this is a modern classic, enjoyable, deft, agreeably eccentric and an achingly funny satire on the rural passion novel, such as those that would like to be but are not quite in the D H Lawrence class.
Nb. I do not know what the three reviewers on the first page of these Amazon reviews are talking about. This is not a bowdlerised copy it is a Penguin Classics paperback and has an ISBBN number like all Penguin paperbacks. It has an introduction by Lynne Truss. There is a Note on the Text which states that the Penguin Classics volume of Cold Comfort Farm has been set from the Allen Lane edition of 1938, and had first been published by Longman in 1932.