17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Comfortable But Not "Comfort",
This review is from: Nightingale Wood (VMC) (Paperback)
It was really interesting to read another book by Stella Gibbons as, like many others, I adore "Cold Comfort Farm".
Though there is much similar humour in this book, it is more of a slow burn. Gibbons takes her time in setting up each of her characters in detail along with the setting of the novel. This perhaps could have done with more editing for contemporary taste. However, it marks something of the transition from the Victorian of detailed background and development to the modern fast-paced, story driven bestseller.
Viola is rather wimpy as a heroine, but becomes more endearing the better you get to know her and comes into her own as a character within the last third of the book. If seen as the main character, she is too insipid, but when the reader realises that there are half a dozen major characters she fits brilliantly.
That's a point - you have to realise there are six main characters and that took me a while. Once that perspective is in place it is easier to see how the book is balanced. All of them have quite major faults and are completely human.
Stella Gibbons does a wonderful job of putting believable people on the page. She conjures her contemporary era well: its people, buildings and attitudes. The hotel at Stanton is an excellent evocation of holiday behaviour in those proper times.
If anything, the most sympathetic character is Tina Wither whose growing maturity calls for empathy every step of the way along her affair with Saxon. A lovely romance ending in a very grounded marriage. Fortunately we also have the silly romance and marriage of Viola and Victor to create equipoise.
Hetty and Madge are characters straight off the comedy stage of the thirties, and Phyl is a bitch-villainess par excellence.
But there are lots of great characters here; it is like and not like "Cold Comfort Farm" and worth the read - it was a really good idea of Virago to re-print this.
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Initial post: 14 Jan 2010 19:30:27 GMT
Louise K says:
I wish people wouldn't tell how novels are resolved - it is unnecessary of you to have said that both Tina and Violet end up marrying their respective Prince Charmings; a major point of the book is to see how the relationships pan out - to follow their respective journeys. Fortunately I read the book without seeing your review which would have quite spoilt it for me and made me rather cross. You also suggest a spot of editing for the modern reader - or perhaps you are being retrospective? In any case If I want to find out about my contemporary world I read books by living authors. The point of re-issuing older books is to explore and re-capture the mindset of a bygone age. Not hack it to pieces. The author has written; let the work stand as it is - a testament to their world, not yours and not mine.
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