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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm (original 1932; edition 2006)

by Stella Gibbons, Lynne Truss (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,1021671,229 (4.02)458
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)

  1. 112
    Emma by Jane Austen (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Flora is very clearly modeled on Emma.
  2. 91
    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Another brilliant parody.
  3. 30
    Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace (msouliere)
  4. 30
    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.
  5. 20
    Mapp and Lucia by E. F. Benson (Michael.Rimmer)
  6. 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.
  7. 53
    A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (upster)
    upster: It's refreshing and fun
  8. 10
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (amanda4242)
    amanda4242: Both books are sure to cheer up anyone having a miserable day.
  9. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  10. 02
    My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (MyriadBooks)
  11. 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)

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English (159)  Spanish (5)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (166)
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Flora Poste is a well-off orphaned young woman who, rather than learning a trade and getting a job in the city, chose to live with relatives, the Starkadders, in dreary Sussex in a farm called Cold Comfort. The Starkadders are rough, country people -- crude, eccentric and most of the time, stupid and unthinking, with a criminal bent. If they were not raping or pushing each other down the well, they were stark mad, or were raving doomsday fanatics. And into this dark, sinful, brutal, ignorant and miserable corner must shine Flora's sensible, practical, cheerful, and sophisticated spark, at least she thought when she arrived. A whiff of fresh air into this musty corner was needed. Things change and how they change, as Flora takes charge, employing to a great and equal degree her talents for persuasion and assertion. In short, she was into everybody's lives, imposing her new and, for these people, strange and revolutionary notions, structuring them according to her idea of order and neatness, and the advice of the Abbé Fausse-Maigre in "The Higher Common Sense" -- her book for essential life instruction. Interestingly, for all their pigheadedness, no one except ancient Adam in the use of his "liddle broom", raised any disagreement and seemed like sheep to her bidding. One big thing after another takes place, and not many months after, Cold Comfort was a very different farm. And seeing all her efforts bear wonderful results as she had planned, her brief sojourn was over, and now she was ready to return to the civilised world properly -- that is, whisked away by her love -- a properly cheesy ending to a properly cheesy story.

I understand that in 1932, Gibbons wanted to parody what was then the immensely popular "rural novel." She seemed to have succeeded, as the book is considered a masterpiece of the time. Was it amusing and witty, as claimed by many? Some scenes I found amusing and quite memorable -- Amos preaching at the Church of the Quivering Brethren, Flora opening the gate to let the bull Big Business out (because he seemed miserable left alone in the dark barn -- how could he perform if he was miserable? she reasoned), and Amos refusing to use the new "liddle broom" to "cletter the dishes." But most of the time, the effort at funniness didn't really work, such as in the use of awkward and sometimes downright demeaning names. The contrasts between the sophisticated, metropolitan class and outlook, and the rugged, closed and primitive countryside mindset and lifestyle are in full display, and there is no doubt which is supposed to be the superior one, as the author suggests in Flora's behaviour and her views. Gibbons portrays the countryside beautifully, and there are lines in the book which have become classic ("I saw something nasty in the woodshed."). While the story was engaging enough in the first half, it doesn't sustain it through to the end, and I found the supposed climax - Aunt Ada's appearance - to be very dull.

Thankfully this book was short, as I was starting to get annoyed with Flora. Indeed, while the protagonist was educated, urbane and had intelligent views, it seemed to me that for all that veneer of modernity, she was not modern at all. That having to rely on her inheritance, and on friends and relatives for her daily life rather than working or learning something useful, she was perpetrating the ideal of that time -- to be moneyed, beautiful, with good taste and manners, and just perfect in every way. To be flippant and manipulative seem to be qualities that are amusing and are desirable in women. This is probably, for me, the worst message of the book. I'm afraid I couldn't stick to merely chuckling over the funny scenes. ( )
  deebee1 | Feb 8, 2016 |
Charming and chuckle inducing! ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Yeah, I'll maybe reattempt this someday in a different mindset, but I strongly disliked the "voice" of the author - the humour was overly knowing and a bit smug.
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Yeah, I'll maybe reattempt this someday in a different mindset, but I strongly disliked the "voice" of the author - the humour was overly knowing and a bit smug.
  thebookmagpie | Jan 30, 2016 |
Yeah, I'll maybe reattempt this someday in a different mindset, but I strongly disliked the "voice" of the author - the humour was overly knowing and a bit smug.
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stella Gibbonsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 6 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039598, 0141441593, 0140448500, 0141045485, 0241951518

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