Cold Comfort Farm, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


A hilarious and merciless parody of rural melodramas and one of the best-loved comic novels of all time, "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons is beautifully repackaged as part of the "Penguin Essentials" range. 'We are not like other folk, maybe, but there have always been Starkadders at "Cold Comfort Farm"...' Sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste has been expensively educated to do everything but earn a living.

When she is orphaned at twenty, she decides her only option is to descend on relatives - the doomed Starkadders at the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm.

There is Judith in a scarlet shawl, heaving with remorse for an unspoken wickedness; raving old Ada Doom, who once saw something nasty in the woodshed; lustful Seth and despairing Reuben, Judith's two sons; and there is Amos, preaching fire and damnation to one and all.

As the sukebind flowers, Flora takes each of the family in hand and brings order to their chaos. "Cold Comfort Farm" is a sharp and clever parody of the melodramatic and rural novel. "Very probably the funniest book ever written". ("Sunday Times"). "Screamingly funny and wildly subversive". (Marian Keyes, "Guardian"). "Delicious..."Cold Comfort Farm" has the sunniness of a P.

G. Wodehouse and the comic aplomb of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop". ("Independent"). "One of the finest parodies written in English ...a wickedly brilliant skit". (Robert Macfarlane, "Guardian"). Stella Gibbons was born in London in 1902. She went to North London Collegiate School and studied journalism at University College, London.

She then worked for ten years on various papers, including the "Evening Standard".

Her first publication was a book of poems, "The Mountain Beast" (1930), and her first novel, "Cold Comfort Farm" (1932), won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize.

Amongst her other novels are "Miss Linsey and Pa" (1936), "Nightingale Wood" (1938), "Westwood" (1946), "Conference at Cold Comfort Farm" (1949) and "Beside the Pearly Water" (1954).

Stella Gibbons died in 1989.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780241951514



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Flora Poste is twenty, recently orphaned, and almost, but not quite, destitute. She has an income of 100 pounds per annum, a host of wealthy friends of her class, a remarkable head on her shoulders, and a network of relatives, near and distant, to whom she might appeal for succour. Much to her friend’s shock, Flora agrees to be taken in by her relations at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex (dread county!). It is just the sort of place where Flora’s gifts as a meddlesome sorter-out of lives and futures can find grist for her mill. From old aunt Ada’s “I saw something in the woodshed!” madness, to cousin Seth’s brooding Lawrencian animal magnetism, to uncle Amos’ hell-fire sermonizing, to the elfine Elfine’s poetic rambles up the Downs, to the obnoxious intellectual, Mr Myburg, who just can’t help falling in love with whomever, it is a convoluted, complicated, conflicted cacophony of animal desire and high art, with just a dash of natural beauty thrown in for good taste. Flora sets to work immediately “tidying” the muddle that is Cold Comfort Farm. Her work is cut out for her.The writing is jaunty and optimistic. Flora’s good nature and appetite for tidying is infectious. And enough situations arise to satisfy the ardent desire of any reader for “comedy”. It may not be, “Probably the funniest book ever written,” as the blurb on the cover of my copy put it. But it certainly intends to be in the running. And it was probably funnier when it was first published, if that makes sense. One of limiting aspects of literary satire is the degree of familiarity, on the part of audience, with the object being satirized. If the reader is not steeped in the novels of D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, and the bucolic novelists of the late 19th and early 20th century, then some of the targets here may be hit without the reader being fully conscious of the author’s success. Is it, “Screamingly funny and wildly subversive”, as another blurb on my copy declares? Well, funny, certainly, and mildly subversive, perhaps. Gently recommended.

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