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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2017
Disappointing. Cold Comfort Farm itself is one of my favourite comic books but this one is a damp squib. We feel Stella Gibbons trying desperately hard to revive interest in characters she has ceased to care about and the reader soon catches her indifference.
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on 29 August 2011
Again, this is a book I read many years ago, and I was delighted to be able to buy my own copy. Flora Fairford (nee Poste) returns to Cold Comfort Farm, leaving the children to the care of her vicar husband and "the spiv" (a prescient glimpse of Community Service by the author?)to find things horrifically changed. All the male Starkadders except the faithful Reuben have decamped to South Africa to work Grootebeeste, the farm they bought by mail order, taking with them Big Business, the bull,(who has disgraced the name of Starkadder) but not the Starkadder maidens who are living unhappily in the Greate Barne. The farmouse itself, now a home to all things twee is a conference centre, and Flora is supposedly helping out at a gathering of the International Thinkers' Group (it is perhaps enough to say that delegates include the artists Hacke, Messe and Peccavi (plus the latter's girl friend who has a habit of appearing in a mink coat with nothing on underneath...). Flora of course devotes her considerable energies to Putting Things Right,and restoring the Starkadders to Cold Comfort and even the watervoles to Ticklepenny's Well..
Most enjoyable.
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on 17 October 2011
This book confirms the view that you should not try to 'gild the lily'. Compared to Cold Comfort Farm, it seems contrived and the humour forced. It's in a different league to the original.

I suspect it would have read much better at the time it was first published. Its readers would have been more likely to 'get' the oblique references to some of the left-wing artists and pseudo-intellectuals around at that time. It's a measure of the wonderful 'Cold Comfort Farm' that it has never dated in this way.

I don't understand why Gibbons felt the need to write it. (Probably pressure from her publisher to try to replicate the success of her sensational first novel)It seems to strike a discordant note in comparison to her other work, and certainly doesn't measure up to the excellent 'Westwood' and 'Nightingale Wood'which are terrific.
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on 28 May 2009
I was lucky enough to find this hidden in my local library reserve stock, if the date stamps are correct I am the first reader in 20 years! Quite surprised as there are several editions of Cold Comform Farm in circulation, maybe people don't check the catalogue and think it is a stand alone novel. Sadly Christmas at CCF was not available; Nightingale Farm is though this has been republished lately.

Conference at Cold Comfort Farm continues the near-future setting with hints of some recent revolution but again this is very vague. Flora seems to be leading a happy life and returns due to a warning that there may no longer be Starkadders at Cold Comfornt Farm. I get the feeling that I pobably missed a lot of arty references but it is worth it for a catch-up with familiar characters.

Worth finding if you are a fan!
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on 11 November 2011
I quite enjoyed reading this - it was quite amusing and made me smile at times, but it is nowhere near as good as the first Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Classics). I found the story around the conference quite tedious - the best bits were anything that the Starkadders appeared in.
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on 24 August 2011
I also loved 'Cold Comfort Farm' and was surprised and excited to find this sequel. Like the other reviewers I was disappointed overall. It was lovely to catch up with Flora and Elfine but unfortunately due to the focus on the conference, there was little content related to the characters I had grown to love and I was kept going by cameo appearances by some old favourites.

The majority of the action is centred on what I believe are satyrical portraits of artists and philosophers of the time, I have no historical awareness of the intellectual 'scene' that Gibbons is sending up and hence the characters seem disposable and no more than mildly amusing. The central plotline being the lack of Starkadders at the farm is telling, there's also a lack of characters and events to really care about and too much about characters I could have done without meeting again, e.g. Mr Mybug.

It was nice to be in Flora's company again but there are so many points glossed over that would have been more interesting than the main action here, for me. I would only recommend this to fans of the farm who need to read it for the sake of completion, I would instead recommend trying Gibbons' other books, say 'Nightingale Wood'.
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Poor Stella Gibbons had a lot to live up to, what with the adoration people felt and still feel about Cold Comfort Farm. Nothing else she ever wrote was going to come close to it. This short novella set much later in the history of Cold Comfort Farm than the original attempts to recreate the magic of the first novel, but doesn't quite pull it off. Flora is now a married woman with five children, and Cold Comfort Farm has been handed over to an agency like the National Trust in all but name. Reuben is beside himself with worry about what has happened to the farm, as is Flora when she finds out that a convention for futurists is being held there. She nips back down to the farm to sort things out and restore the Starkadders to their rightful legacy. There are elements in the book that work very well, and there are times when I found myself enjoying it immensely, but it is very patchy, and at times rather rushed. The ending is forced and you feel that by that stage Gibbons has realised she isn't quite going to pull it off, and wants shot of the whole thing.
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on 26 July 2013
The comfortably dissonant Starkadders are interposed with uncomfortably dissonant conference characters. There is too little of any of these new personalities to get to know and for the Starkadders this is merely a curtain call. The handful of classic vicious lines are only just enough to sustain interest as the story is not satisfying.
In contrast Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, the short story, very much captures the delectably concentrated revolting idiosyncrasy of the Starkadders.
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on 2 February 2012
Readers expecting a rehash of the original, beware. Reading Conference is like meeting a lover after many years apart - bittersweet memories mixed with dismay at what they have become. Other reviewers tell of the misfiring, heavy handed satire, the loss of everything that made CCF such a long lasting delight, but despite everything wrong with this novel - and boy there is so much wrong with this novel - you can't in the end fail to love it simply because of all the love we feel for Flora, the Starkadders, the Hawk-Monitors, (we meet Elfine and sons just once, and it is worth the wait) and all the deep-Sussex madness. Incidentally, having just reread Wuthering Heights, I now recognise the debt Gibbons owed EB in many of her depictions of rural larks.
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on 29 June 2014
A wonderful book by a neglected author. She writes clearly and well bringing the humour of life to the surface with skill and colour. I enjoyed it enormously and went on to buy other of her books.
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