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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm (original 1932; edition 2006)

by Stella Gibbons (Author), Lynne Truss (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,4121791,121 (4.03)493
Title:Cold Comfort Farm
Authors:Stella Gibbons (Author)
Other authors:Lynne Truss (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Finished, Your library, Kindle e-book, K-Fiction-EN
Tags:english, fiction, 2012

Work details

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Recently added bynate48281, private library, Cosettey, Kitty.Cunningham, fileuse, DelythJ, momnrod
Legacy LibrariesAnthony Burgess, Edward Estlin Cummings
  1. 132
    Emma by Jane Austen (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Flora is very clearly modeled on Emma.
  2. 101
    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Another brilliant parody.
  3. 50
    The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (Bjace)
    Bjace: While it's not in the same genre, the books are similiar. Both Sophy and Flora Post are Miss Fix-its, whose practical, problem-solving approach to life is a contrast to the silliness of their relatives. Also, both are delightful reads in different ways.
  4. 30
    Mapp and Lucia by E. F. Benson (Michael.Rimmer)
  5. 30
    Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace (msouliere)
  6. 20
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (amanda4242)
    amanda4242: Both books are sure to cheer up anyone having a miserable day.
  7. 20
    The Straight and Narrow Path by Honor Tracy (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Another satire, this time of the Irish countryside, the English in Ireland, and the Catholic church.
  8. 53
    A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (upster)
    upster: It's refreshing and fun
  9. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  10. 00
    Precious Bane by Mary Webb (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: The one is a parody of the other.
  11. 02
    My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (MyriadBooks)
  12. 03
    The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence (thorold)
    thorold: The Rainbow is a great novel that's well worth reading for its own sake, but it's also the supreme example of the over-portentous way of writing about the countryside that makes the parody in Cold Comfort Farm so hilarious.
1930s (9)
Satire (9)

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English (171)  Spanish (5)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All (179)
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Published in 1932, but set in the not too distant future for some obscure reason, this novel tells the tale of the now orphaned Flora Poste who does not wish to get a job, but cannot live off of the yearly sum of one hundred pounds, decides to write letters to relatives and see if she can live with one of them for a while until she finds a suitable husband--not that she's looking for one at the moment. Her best friend the widowed Mrs. Smiling who has a coterie of suitors trailing after her with the oddest of nicknames such as Bikki and Swooth thinks she is nuts. But when Flora decides upon the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex due to the odd nature of the letter she received wherein her cousin Judith told her that they would take her in due to some debt they owed her father that had cursed the farm but to not ask her what it was about because she would not tell her. Flora tells Mrs. Smiling that she will send word when she gets there if there is an oversexed Seth or a Reuben and if she'll need gumboots. Her darling friend Charles tells her he will come in his aeroplane anytime she needs a lift back home.

Of course, when she gets there she immediately sends a wire back to Mrs. Smiley that there is indeed a Seth and a Reuben and she has a definite need of gumboots. Adam, the first person of the household that she meets, takes care of the cows and other animals on the farm and is about ninety-years-old. He adores all animals and often sings to them. Seth does nothing around the farm but gets the serving girl pregnant. He has four illegitimate children and loves to go the "talkies" (movies). Reuben is trying to run the farm but is not being allowed to. His father Amos has a fire in his belly to preach to the sinners of hellfire and brimstone which he does in town once a week. Seth's mother, Judith stays in bed and moans about her son Seth. Mrs. Beetle, the serving girl, Meriam's mother and Meriam on occasion, take care of the house and cook the meals other than breakfast, which Adam poorly fixes. And then there was Mrs. Starkadder, Aunt Ada Doom, who has shut herself up in her room only to be seen twice a year by the family. She has her meals brought up to her daily by Mrs. Beetle and the farm records are also brought up regularly. As Aunt Ada Doom is fond of saying "There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm". And as long as she is alive none of them are to leave to even go into the big town of Beershorn except when the money needs to be deposited into the bank. They all bicker and fight with each other and the other Starkadders that I haven't named (there are many) that are married their wives live off the site because they are not welcome in the house.

Flora immediately takes it upon herself to fix the problems that Cold Comfort Farm is having and make things right. She starts with Amos and Reuben. She encourages Amos to go out and preach town to town and city to city in a Ford van, which would let Reuben have control of the farm. She also works on her woods-wild cousin Elfine to turn her into a lady so she can be made into a marriageable material. But she doesn't stop there. She has plans for others as well and the whole thing snowballs. The only problem thwarting her plans is the mean and supposedly crazy Aunt Ada Doom who saw something in the woodshed when she was little that made her lose her mind.

This book is a delight to read. It pokes fun at intellectuals (who seem to be obsessed with sex) as well as the country folk. But it's a good-natured poke. The author makes up a lot of words in this book that you would think they belong to the language of those living in the area of Sussex and one of them was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. But don't worry about being lost in the language as it is very easy to understand--hilariously so, I might add. This book is a bit ridiculous and you just have to go with the flow as you will realize when the cows start losing hooves. Just suspend belief and take a step into the unreality of this wacky novel.

Here's more information about the novel: http://www.bookdrum.com/books/cold-comfort-farm/9780140274141/bookmarks-1-25.htm...

There are some things (like first love and one’s reviews) at which a woman in her middle years does not care to look too closely.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 7)

I am only nineteen, but I have already observed that whereas there still lingers some absurd prejudice against living on one’s friends, no limits are set, either by society or by one’s own conscience, to the amount one may impose upon one’s relatives.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 15)

My idea of hell is a very large party in a cold room.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 16)

Curious how Love destroys every vestige of that politeness which the human race, in its years of evolution, has so painfully acquired.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 31)

Never confront and enemy at the end of a journey, unless it happens to be his journey.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 47)

Surely she had endured enough for one evening without having to listen to intelligent conversation!
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 100)

He said that a woman’s success could only be estimated by the success of her sexual life…
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 122)
Richard had realized, not that Elfine was beautiful, but that he loved Elfine. (Young men frequently need this fact pointed out to them, as Flora knew by observing the antics of her friends.)
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm)

She knew from experience that intellectuals thought the proper—nay, the only—way to fall in love with somebody was to do it the very instant you saw them. You met somebody, and thought they were ‘A charming person. So gay and simple.’ Then you walked home from a party with them (preferably across Hampstead Heath, about three in the morning)discussing whether you should sleep together or not. Sometimes you asked them to go to Italy with you. Sometimes they asked you to go to Italy (preferably Portofino) with them. You held hands, and laughed, and kissed them and called them your ‘true love’. You loved them for eight months, and then you met somebody else and began being gay and simple all over again, with small-hours’ walk across Hampstead, Portofino, invitation, and all. It was very simple, gay, and natural, somehow.
-Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm p 190) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Jun 28, 2017 |
Nearly done and LOVING it.....
Now finished and it was great to the end. A timeless must-read for anyone who loves British humour. ( )
1 vote Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Book Club Pick for May 21 at Julie's.
  kbosso | May 2, 2017 |
This book meant more than a little to me. Read it while leaving home, my own kind of Cold Comfort Farm, leading to a rather morbid final hour-and-some on the plane once I finished. Damn reviews, this is a meditation on me, my life, where my home is.

Going home is important. It reminds me where I'm from.

It reminds me not to idealize where I'm from.

It reminds me not to get caught up in my academic world because that isn't the world. That isn't how so many people in my country think and live. What is obvious there is not universally obvious.

It reminds me not to presume upon the "rich emotional life" of the country. That I have felt a rich emotional life wherever I have gone, whether the country or the working city or the ivory tower, not because I am imbued with an inherited provincial pulse but because I have actively sought it wherever my journeys take me.

Book v. funny. Missed the anti-Semitism on the first go through because I thought she was lampooning writer-types and not Jews which just goes to show I've been out of 1930s lit for too long because upon reflection: disgusting. Methods of contraception vs. Thomas Hardy absolutely hilarious. The star-rating system for passages the author considers particularly worthy made me giggle every time. Cousin love, but with all the meditation on Jane Austen it was only to be expected, also she definitely made the best choice. Also the fact she had choice. You go Stella. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
A good read but the behaviour of the weird matriarch of the family was never explained, neither was a proper explanation given of how she was pacified. ( )
  siok | Dec 25, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stella Gibbonsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blake, QuentinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chast, RozIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simmonds, PosyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, StanleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Truss, LynneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vales, José C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery -- Mansfield Park.
NOTE The action of the story takes place in the near future.
To Allan and Ina
First words
The education bestowed upon Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of influenza or Spanish Plague which occured in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.
To Anthony Pookworthy, Esq., A.B.S., L.L.R. My dear Tony, It is with something more than the natural deference of a tyro at the loveliest, most arduous and perverse of the arts in the presence of a master-craftsman that I lay this book before you. (From the Foreword)
"I saw something nasty in the woodshed!"
She loved them all dearly, but this evening she just did not want to see them any more.
There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort.
"Straw or chaff, leaf or fruit, we mun all come to 't."
"Curses, like rookses, comes home to rest in bosomes and barnses."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039598, Paperback)

Stella Gibbons' novel is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm.

A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition with French flaps, rough front, and luxurious packaging
Features an introduction from Lynne Truss and cover illustrations by Roz Chast

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When a well-educated young socialite in 1930s England is left orphaned and unable to support herself at age twenty-two, she moves in with her eccentric relatives on their farm.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039598, 0141441593, 0141045485, 0241951518

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