Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Review of Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

4 out of 5: In Stella Gibbons’s contemporary classic novel Cold Comfort Farm (1932), the orphaned, 20-year-old Flora moves in with distant relatives living on a remote farm in Sussex, England. Accustomed to glamorous London, Flora is not equipped to handle the hardscrabble life of a farmer, but with unflagging enthusiasm, she makes the best of her bleak circumstances. Flora sets about improving the farm and the lives of its inhabitants, who have suffered under the tyrannical influence of Aunt Ada Doom for many years.

Flora’s first glimpse of Cold Comfort Farm is anything but cheery:

Dawn crept over the Downs like a sinister white animal, followed by the snarling cries of a wind eating its way between the black boughs of the thorns. The wind was the furious voice of this sluggish animal light that was baring the dormers and mullions and scullions of Cold Comfort Farm.
As this overwrought passage suggests, Cold Comfort Farm is intended as a parody of the sentimental and grim novels of rural life popular during Gibbons’s lifetime (see, e.g., Mary Webb’s The Golden Arrow). Despite a limited (or nonexistent?) collective memory of books like Webb’s, Gibbons’s parody remains fresh and accessible and, most importantly, hilarious. Overall, Cold Comfort Farm is an entertaining and unique reading experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you reviewed this book. I hope it helps expose this little treasure to more readers! A. Hollis