Cold Comfort Farm (Unabridged) Hardcover – 13 Feb 2012
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? Quite simply one of the funniest satirical novels of the last century.? ?Nancy Pearl, NPR's "Morning Edition"? Delicious . . . "Cold Comfort Farm" has the sunniness of a P. G. Wodehouse and the comic aplomb of Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop".? ?"The Independent" (London) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Stella Gibbons was born in 1902. She studied journalism at University College, London, and then worked for ten years on various papers, including The Evening Standard. COLD COMFORT FARM, her first novel, was published in 1932, and was followed by other novels, short stories, and poems. She died in 1989. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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.
"'Sussex ...', mused Mrs Smiling. `I don't much like the sound of that. Do they live on a decaying farm?'" `They' are the Starkadder family, and yes, they do live on a decaying farm as we soon find out as our heroine Flora Poste waves goodbye to Mrs Smiling and goes to stay with her cousins in deepest Sussex, where the locals use such words as `sukebind', `mommet' and `scranleting'. Flora herself comes across as an Emma Thompson character in one of her observant and no-nonsense screen parts.
Having read the book I now can see how it is contrived partly as a parody of other rustic romantic writers. In chapter eight, our heroine agrees that "it was too true that life as she is lived had a way of being curiously different form life as described by novelists." And, towards the end of the work, in chapter twenty, "The farmhouse itself no longer looked like a beast about to spring. (Not that it ever had, to her, for she was not in the habit of thinking that things looked exactly like other things which were as different from them in appearance as it was possible to be.)"
Peter Brandon had hinted of the book's comic nature, but I did not find the novel a bellyful of laughs. The one occasion that did make my eyes water was the description of the Japanese-Norwegian film `Yes'; nevertheless, the book is extremely amusing, producing plenty of chuckles and smiles on my face, such as preacher Amos's reasoning for why "there'll be no butter in hell."
Part of the interest in the book for me was Stella Gibbons setting it "in the near future". It was fascinating to see how she saw society and technology developing. For instance, her friend "Claud twisted the television dial" and Gibbons seemed to think that we would all be flying around in our own planes. In the meantime, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper are past their prime, and Claud "had served in the Anglo-Nicaraguan wars of '46."
Whilst I enjoyed the work, I could not help feeling as I read it that parts were a little wayward and hastily-written; indeed, sometimes it read like something written by a schoolgirl. And I could not help but feel a bit conned by Gibbons never actually revealing at the end what were the nature of Flora's rights, long-promised to her by the Starkadders but never spelt out.
Lynne Truss's perceptive words enliven her introduction. She notes that "while `Cold Comfort Farm' was, yes, specifically inspired by the excesses of the rural genre ... the huge delight of Stella Gibbons's novel is the way Flora approaches an eternal and universal difference of temperament: as a brisk, cheerful person, she discovers a whole farmful of people wallowing, self-thwarted, in chronic misery and simply makes them stop it." Truss asserts that Gibbons draws the line "between the pure and the preposterous." Sure, but does this make the book a `masterpiece', a `work of genius', as Truss alleges? I don't think so.
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Firstly, Cold Comfort Farm is funny, maybe not "the funniest book ever written" but certainly chuckling aloud...Read more