Saturday, January 2, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons


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.

Paperback, Deluxe edition, 233 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published September 8th 1932)
ISBN 0143039598 (ISBN13: 9780143039594)

About the Author

Stella Dorothea Gibbons was an English novelist, journalist, poet and short-story writer.

Her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize for 1933. A satire and parody of the pessimistic ruralism of Thomas Hardy, his followers and especially Precious Bain by Mary Webb -the "loam and lovechild" genre, as some called it, Cold Comfort Farm introduces a self-confident young woman, quite self-consciously modern, pragmatic and optimistic, into the grim, fate-bound and dark rural scene those novelists tended to portray.

My Thoughts
The education bestowed on 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 the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.
Flora is a young single woman of nineteen years who has found herself orphaned after losing her parents during a flu outbreak. Now alone with only a modest annual allotment to sustain her, and no desire to marry or work in order to support herself, she has to decide who she will choose to take her on and see to her well being.
"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."
She chooses to go live with distant relatives in Sussex, who seem to feel some sort of obligation toward her, due to a mysterious wrong that was done to her father Robert Poste.

My final word: I loved the description of the house in Sussex and its history, and the names of the dairy cows: Graceless, Pointless, Feckless and Aimless. This story was very symbolic. I didn't catch the symbolism at first, but by the end of the story I was picking up on it. There were odd character names, like Mrs. Smiling (who was actually a bit of a downer) and Mr. Mybug. And then there’s landmarks like Ticklepenny’s Field. Quirky and outrageous, and a bit farcical, this story had its moments, but overall it fell flat. I think it would make a much better play or BBC series than book, giving the story a little life that is currently missing.

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

This book was the December 2015 selection for the Cape Coral Bookies.

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