Cold Comfort Farm

Cold Comfort Farm

Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right....

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Title:Cold Comfort Farm
Author:Stella Gibbons
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Edition Language:English

Cold Comfort Farm Reviews

  • Diane

    is the perfect comfort read. It is a wonderful blend of British charm, comic characters, and a clever young woman at the heart of it all.

    Flora Poste cannot abide a mess. After her parents died and left her with only 100 pounds a year, she decided to live off relatives for a while. She settles on some cousins, the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. When Flora arrives at the farm, she sets out to make some changes and tidy everything up, even if it means upsetting her st

    is the perfect comfort read. It is a wonderful blend of British charm, comic characters, and a clever young woman at the heart of it all.

    Flora Poste cannot abide a mess. After her parents died and left her with only 100 pounds a year, she decided to live off relatives for a while. She settles on some cousins, the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. When Flora arrives at the farm, she sets out to make some changes and tidy everything up, even if it means upsetting her strong-willed aunt, Ada Doom.

    My favorite parts of the book are when Flora decides to give her wispy, poetry-loving cousin Elfine a makeover that improves her love life, and when Flora helps her cousin Seth become a movie star. Flora even comes up with the perfect way of dealing with her Aunt Ada, thanks to a well-timed Jane Austen quote.

    This book is so delightful and has become such a favorite that I will never do it justice. I think this is the third time I've read it, and each time it makes me smile and laugh. (FYI, the 1995 movie version with Kate Beckinsale is also a delight.) I highly recommend

    the next time you want to lift your spirits.

    [Flora was asked what work she will do] "When I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as

    , but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, 'Collecting material.' No one can object to that."

    "I have a tidy mind, and untidy lives irritate me. Also, they are uncivilized."

    "One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favourite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing-gown."

  • Matthew Gatheringwater

    This may be one of the funniest books ever written and I pick it up whenever I feel inclined to have a whine and a moan. The protagonist, Flora Poste, is a bracing antidote for anyone inclined to be a sad sack. A student of the higher common sense, she understands that there are few troubles in life than cannot be set to rights or at least ameliorated by good hygiene, good manners, correct thoughts, and the proper foundation garments.

    What I admire most about Flora is her unwillingness to give in

    This may be one of the funniest books ever written and I pick it up whenever I feel inclined to have a whine and a moan. The protagonist, Flora Poste, is a bracing antidote for anyone inclined to be a sad sack. A student of the higher common sense, she understands that there are few troubles in life than cannot be set to rights or at least ameliorated by good hygiene, good manners, correct thoughts, and the proper foundation garments.

    What I admire most about Flora is her unwillingness to give in to the artistic fashion of celebrating the misery of the human condition. Rather than getting ensnared in the sukebind of life, she believes we must wield our scrantlets. "Nature," she says, "is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy."

    This edition of the book has the added pleasure of an appreciation of Stella Gibbons in the form of an introduction by Lynn Truss (in which we are treated to hear what Virgina Woolf--a bit of a sad sack herself--had to say about Gibbons) and irreverant cover illustrations by Roz Chast, (whose style will be instantly recognizable to

    readers. In fact, my one criticism of this edition is that it isn't illustrated throughout.

    Beyond the benefits of humor, this book has been invaluable as my first introduction to the works of the Abbe Fausse-Maigre, which have provided guidance and inspiration throughout my life.

  • Better Eggs

    I've just watched the film. It's even

    than the book, by a long way. It's very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna

    Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders

    I've just watched the film. It's even

    than the book, by a long way. It's very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna

    Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders and the lightness that Robert Post's child, Flora, brought to the farm. The ending was also an improvement on the 5* book.

    If you like British films, this is so typical of gentle British humour. In an earlier decade it would have been an Ealing film. I don't think it could have been made in the US as most of the actors weren't remotely good looking. Even Elvine, playing a mini Eliza Doolittle role (an obvious pastiche) was rather average and the sex-obsessed and over-fertile girl had been made up to look like an unwashed farm girl. Only Kate Beckinsale (who is not the world's most brilliant actress, although she was competent here, was allowed to be a beauty.

    I do recommend the film. And the book. Rarely do I see a film much better than a really good book, but this is it. John Schlesinger and Stella Gibbons, author and director, geniuses both.

    _______________________

    When Aunt Ada Doom was just a small child, she saw "something nasty in the woodshed". And if it didn't blight her entire life, she certainly made sure it would blight, or at least add even more blight, to everyone else at Cold Comfort Farm, the family home and ancestral seat of the Starkadders.

    Essentially this is the American tv series, the Hillbillies rewritten for 1930s Sussex and parodying Hardy, Lawrence, and various other Great British Writers, but is more related to the Hillbillies with incest, hellfire, strange obsessions (cows) and all manner of people who all have mental or emotional problems of the darker, more malign sort.

    Into this maelstrom of petty evil, fear and ineptness, come the heroine. Flora Poste is the posh city cousin fallen on hard times whose father the Starkadders did something unmentionable to and feel guilty about so when she has nowhere to go, they take her in. But not willingly. She sorts them all out and brings them from their ignorant, Gothic-y insular life into the modern world.

    It is a ridiculously funny novel, not as literary as the parodying might suggest. I haven't seen the film of it, only just learned there was one, which was apparently brilliant and stars top British actors and actresses (as opposed to 'stars' famous more for their beauty than any thespian ability). Sometimes I don't want to see the film of a favourite book in case the director hasn't seen it the same way as I have, but this time I want to.

  • Shovelmonkey1

    I imagine that Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm from the artfully distressed comfort of a small garret-like room. Clad in a light tweed and perched gracefully in front of an oversized front strike, Smith-Corona type writer with a cup of tea in bone china cup and saucer just out of reach of the return of the barrel of the typewriter. I can also imagine her gently cackling to herself in polite and proper manner as she clattered out the lines which would come together to form the world of Col

    I imagine that Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm from the artfully distressed comfort of a small garret-like room. Clad in a light tweed and perched gracefully in front of an oversized front strike, Smith-Corona type writer with a cup of tea in bone china cup and saucer just out of reach of the return of the barrel of the typewriter. I can also imagine her gently cackling to herself in polite and proper manner as she clattered out the lines which would come together to form the world of Cold Comfort Farm; Postes, Starkadders, Beetles, Myburns and all.

    Flora Poste is bright eyed, knowing, impossibly perky and recently orphaned (if indeed 20-somthing ladies can be orphans). Apparently penniless with only £100 per year to her name (this was thought to be a paltry sum in Jane Austen's day so clearly young Ms Poste is gently skulling up financial shit-creek), she throws herself upon the mercy of her relatives and with jutting chin and determined step, strikes out boldly for Sussex and Cold Comfort Farm. There she is greeted by the biblically populous and biblically named Starkadder clan who are all the proud owners of names which make them sound much more like extras in Lord of the Rings than gentle farming folk.

    Amos has his religion, Aunt Ada has her memories of something nasty in the woodshed, Elfine has her nature walks, Reuben has his chickens, Urk has his watervole obsession, Judith has Seth and Seth... well Seth has had just about everything with a pulse between Cold Comfort and Howling.

    Speaking from personal experience, farms are not places where you are encouraged to either lie abed, think genteel thoughts or sit around doing nothing all day aside from acting as a kind of graceful mobile decoration to the general day to day background. Accordingly Flora Poste decides to engage herself in useful farm based activies - none of which actually involve agriculture or animal husbandry of any sort. Much better to take in hand the wayward social, sexual and psychological issues of the family at large. And this she does with some aplomb, although to fill in the detail would be a big old spoiler so you should just go and read this surprisingly enjoyable book instead.

    This book made it to the 1001 list for being an incisive and witty dissection of rural life as seen through the eyes of a chic urbane invader or something like that.

  • Duane

    Cold Comfort Farm is a stinging satire and outrageously funny parody of the literature about rural English farm life, especially by Sheila Kaye-Smith, Mary Webb, and to a lesser extent, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. I haven't read much by the former mentioned authors to appreciate the full extent of Gibbons jabs, but it doesn't matter because the humor is obvious. Gibbons writing was very clever and her cast of characters would have made Dickens proud. Very funny and very entertaining. 4.5 sta

    Cold Comfort Farm is a stinging satire and outrageously funny parody of the literature about rural English farm life, especially by Sheila Kaye-Smith, Mary Webb, and to a lesser extent, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. I haven't read much by the former mentioned authors to appreciate the full extent of Gibbons jabs, but it doesn't matter because the humor is obvious. Gibbons writing was very clever and her cast of characters would have made Dickens proud. Very funny and very entertaining. 4.5 stars.

  • Joey Woolfardis

    Read as part of

    , based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

    A wonderful novel, possibly the only modern classic I will ever fully enjoy. Not a comedy but a satire, but done with a love for pastoral classical writing that I think the author felt

    Read as part of

    , based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

    A wonderful novel, possibly the only modern classic I will ever fully enjoy. Not a comedy but a satire, but done with a love for pastoral classical writing that I think the author felt slightly embarrassed by. Think of Austen's Emma and you have the protagonist, Flora. Think of Bertha Mason of Thornfield Hall and you have Aunt Ada Doom, but each pulled and twisted to become extremes. There are smatterings of Heathcliffe, Bathsheba, and all the other archetypes of Classical Literature. Great writing, though often too short and blunt (though we can blame my love of lengthy Victorian prose for this).

    Modern Classics are often written as an antithesis to the ridiculously long Classics, yet condensation is not always welcome. Gibbons does it very well here and with a humour that is both mild and forthcoming. It is a Modern Classic with no grudges except, perhaps, just a desire to be a little more to the point.

    "...Flora seated herself upon the bed and read aloud from the

    ... "Can we be sure that an elephant's real name is elephant? Only mankind presumes to name God's creature; God himself is silent upon the matter."

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  • Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this,

    Muriel Spark-ish Tartness: "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons

    The first two-thirds of it are much funnier than the last third. Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn't a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora's plans at the last minute. That said it's quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons' sentence constructio

    If you're into stuff like this,

    Muriel Spark-ish Tartness: "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons

    The first two-thirds of it are much funnier than the last third. Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn't a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora's plans at the last minute. That said it's quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons' sentence construction is a thing to behold: she kind of combines mid-twentieth century Muriel Spark-ish tartness with the flawless, rolling rhythm of the Victorian sentence (or something like that). I can't believe this was her first novel; it's so poised.

     

    I did wonder why the novel is set 'in the near future' and why there's all the emphasis on flying and other kinds of technologies. Just to point up the primitiveness of Cold Comfort Farm?

     

     

     

    If you're into Mundane Literature of the Victorian kind, read on. 

  • emma

    THIS BOOK RULES!!!!

    I mean seriously, oh my god! It's funny. Flora (our protagonist) is a feminist queen of getting sh*t done and not taking anything from any man ever in the history of time. All the characters are hilarious. The language and voice are unreal. I want to live inside this book!!!!!

    Well, just kidding. All of my trying-to-move-in-and-permanently-inhabit-a-fictional-world energies are currently taken up by the film Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (2018). I am really tryna become Lily Jam

    THIS BOOK RULES!!!!

    I mean seriously, oh my god! It's funny. Flora (our protagonist) is a feminist queen of getting sh*t done and not taking anything from any man ever in the history of time. All the characters are hilarious. The language and voice are unreal. I want to live inside this book!!!!!

    Well, just kidding. All of my trying-to-move-in-and-permanently-inhabit-a-fictional-world energies are currently taken up by the film Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (2018). I am really tryna become Lily James as a young

    Donna. I am purely certain that I could handle the whole Sam situation much better and end up with him in the end but also still get with Harry and Bill in the interval.

    SOMEONE TALK ABOUT MAMMA MIA WITH ME I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH I LOVE IT.

    But the book! I love the book, too.

    Bottom line: Stella Gibbons you are a goddess among men and this book is DOPE AS HELL. Sorry it's the only thing you're remembered for in spite of a long and productive career as a novelist but also can you blame reading audiences the world over??? This is good sh*t.

  • Roman Clodia

    Hilarious! Review to come tomorrow...

    -------------------------------------------------

    This book was chosen by a book group in response to the general gloominess of January/February - and I found myself giggling throughout. The set-up is that Flora Poste, clutching her well-thumbed copy of

    , finds herself living at Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place inhabited by the Starkadder family all of whom have been reading far too much rural melodrama...

    Gibbons has enormous fun w

    Hilarious! Review to come tomorrow...

    -------------------------------------------------

    This book was chosen by a book group in response to the general gloominess of January/February - and I found myself giggling throughout. The set-up is that Flora Poste, clutching her well-thumbed copy of

    , finds herself living at Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place inhabited by the Starkadder family all of whom have been reading far too much rural melodrama...

    Gibbons has enormous fun with sexy Seth, all panther-like grace and unbuttoned shirts; hellfire-preaching Amos, the family patriarch; put-upon Adam who washes up with a thorn twig while breaking his 80-year old heart over young Elfine; Elfine herself who roves the countryside, writing poems and acting suitably fey; and interloper Mr Mybug who can't help but see fecund sexuality in every leaf and bud.

    It probably makes this book funnier if you've read some of the books like

    ,

    , and a generous helping of

    and

    - though I'm sure there are other authors who prompted Gibbons' send-up. She also name-checks Wuthering Heights,

    , and I couldn't help thinking of

    and its satire on Gothic and 'sensation' novels. If only she's known Ted Hughes and his brooding nature poems, I feel sure he'd have ended up in here. All that said, I suspect this is funny on its own terms, even if the literary references don't stick.

    Gibbons' elegant writing has more than a touch of Austen and Waugh about it, and she helpfully marks particularly purple passages with a 3-star rating in imitation of Michelin!

    Light-hearted and fun while also commenting on literary trends (Gibbons was writing in the 1930s), this is bright and very funny.

  • Lobstergirl

    Nineteen year old Flora Poste, freshly orphaned and impossibly jaunty, decides to live with strange, barely civilized relatives in rural Sussex. The Starkadders are a mix of fire and brimstone religiosity, untrammeled sexual urges, pathological family ties, feigned mental illness, and general slovenliness.

    is a 1932 parody of Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, and D.H. Lawrence, with themes of Pygmalion and the meddling of Emma Woodhouse thrown in, and jabs at Eugene O'Neill, avant gar

    Nineteen year old Flora Poste, freshly orphaned and impossibly jaunty, decides to live with strange, barely civilized relatives in rural Sussex. The Starkadders are a mix of fire and brimstone religiosity, untrammeled sexual urges, pathological family ties, feigned mental illness, and general slovenliness.

    is a 1932 parody of Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, and D.H. Lawrence, with themes of Pygmalion and the meddling of Emma Woodhouse thrown in, and jabs at Eugene O'Neill, avant garde film, and Freud. It's kind of a hot mess, actually. The most flattering thing that can be said about it is that it's clever, for example, in this passage taking aim at Lawrence:

    I'm not sure who exactly is being mocked here, but I laughed at the absurd geometries of the farm:

    But it's also overly knowing and twee - Gibbons actually indicates in the text "what I consider the finer passages with one, two, or three stars" in the manner of a Baedeker travel guide recommending a hotel. You can't escape the fact that you're constantly being winked at, which after 200 pages feels like being bludgeoned with cudgels.

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