Cold Comfort Farm
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Cold Comfort Farm (Cold Comfort Farm)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  18,011 ratings  ·  1,594 reviews
A witty portrait of rural England in the early twentieth century.

When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly-named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation;...more
Paperback, 233 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published September 8th 1932)
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Oct 30, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of waugh and the 1930s
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I imagine that Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm from the artfully distressed comfort of a small garret-like room. Clad in a light tweed and perched gracefully in front of an oversized front strike, Smith-Corona type writer with a cup of tea in bone china cup and saucer just out of reach of the return of the barrel of the typewriter. I can also imagine her gently cackling to herself in polite and proper manner as she clattered out the lines which would come together to form the world of Col...more
Nineteen year old Flora Poste, freshly orphaned and impossibly jaunty, decides to live with strange, barely civilized relatives in rural Sussex. The Starkadders are a mix of fire and brimstone religiosity, untrammeled sexual urges, pathological family ties, feigned mental illness, and general slovenliness. Cold Comfort Farm is a 1932 parody of Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, and D.H. Lawrence, with themes of Pygmalion and the meddling of Emma Woodhouse thrown in, and jabs at Eugene O'Neill, avant gar...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
This may be one of the funniest books ever written and I pick it up whenever I feel inclined to have a whine and a moan. The protagonist, Flora Poste, is a bracing antidote for anyone inclined to be a sad sack. A student of the higher common sense, she understands that there are few troubles in life than cannot be set to rights or at least ameliorated by good hygiene, good manners, correct thoughts, and the proper foundation garments.

What I admire most about Flora is her unwillingness to give in...more
Mike Puma
Review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 17, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 1001-core, comedy, british
Frankly, I used to think that British humor was bland until while I was reading this book. This is so funny that even if I didn't probably get some of the nuances of the 30's small farm in Howling, Sussex because of the town folk's different dialects, the scenes are hilarious. Imagining them and converting those situations to our local barrio, makes me want to forget my dream of writing a memoir and instead write a similar short novel like this. Probably with my hometown, specifically the coconu...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
If, like me, you've seen the 1996 movie adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, with Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Rufus Sewell (mmmm yum!), you'll know that there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm and that Aunt Ada Doom saw something "narsty" in the woodshed when she was two. God I wish I had a memory like that! All the joys of the movie and more are in the book, a wonderful, clever, readable satire of the classic rural novel et al Thomas Hardy and the l...more
Stella Gibbons' affectionately comical nod to traditional Victorian novels had me laughing on the third page, when she explained a minor character's passion for her unparalleled, world-renowned collection of brassières. The characters in this book are so vividly realized, and they are all the more ridiculous for how seriously they take themselves.

The basic story, for anyone who is interested: When she is nineteen years old, Flora Poste's parents die, and as she does not want to earn her living,...more
I found this story positively delightful. It is true, what you hear, that it is very put-down-able, but that is something I appreciate about it. And it definitely picks up steam about halfway through. It is about a very sensible girl, who uses her good sense to clean up a family. I think it’s a lot like Polyanna (I’ve only seen the Hayley Mills movie, but I imagine the book has to be pretty similar), but creepy instead of saccharine. It has this P.G. Wodehouse feel of calm irony in the face of d...more
Dec 07, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Good-humored Austen/Bronte
My review here is primarily a compare/contrast between the movie and the book.

Having seen the movie several times in recent years it was hard to dissociate the film from the book. I wish I had read the book first for a more pure experience. This is one of those rare occasions when I think I enjoyed the movie a little more. But that's probably because I saw it first.

In the book, Flora Post is a more ironic character than in the movie. In the movie, Flora's character type is parodied only very ge...more
Jun 29, 2008 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Starkadders
My love for the film version of this book is a bit ridiculous. I mean, I could watch it over and over and over and over again. It makes me smile just to think about it. Haven't we all seen something nasty in the woodshed?

The book is also highly pleasurable. Part of the pleasure for me, is just in remembering those extraordinary scenes I'd seen on-screen - but the NEW pleasure is the absolute genius of Stella Gibbons' prose. I mean, damn, she can write a funny sentence even while describing some...more
This is the sort of book that I need to add to my collection and read again and again. Not only is it funny, but it's full of rich language, symbolism, and multiple meanings. It's the sort of book that always reveals something new with each reading.
Written in 1933, this book satirizes the popular British pulp novels of the time that always had some poor little waif of a girl orphaned and sent to the country to live with her terrifying relatives. Instead, with Cold Comfort Farm, our 20 year old heroine Flora loses her parents, and, faced with the prospect of living on 100 pounds a year, decides instead of live off of the most appalling group of relatives she can find, and then fix all their issues and basically "tidy up."

Almost all the char...more
Although I don't think this the comic masterpiece everyone else does, I was very struck by this passage on p93 - written in 1932, and seemingly predicting the 1960s. In London our heroine goes to a meeting of the Cinema Society :

"The audience had run to beards and magenta shirts and original ways of arranging its neckwear... it had sat through a film of Japanese life called 'Yes' made by a Norwegian film company in 1915 with Japanese actors, which lasted an hour and three-quarters and contained...more
Meals at the farm were eaten in silence. If anyone spoke at all during the indigestible twenty minutes which served them for dinner or supper, it was to pose some awkward question, which, when answered, led to a blazing row; as, for example : 'Why has not (whichever member of the family was absent from table) -- come in to her food?' or 'Why has not - the barranfield been gone over a second time with the pruning snoot?' On the whole, Flora liked it better when they were silent, though it did ra
MJ Nicholls
I tittered. I chortled. I snorted. Job done.
Beware when the suke-bind is in bud! A fantastic, jocular flip-off to the natural, melancholy country novels of Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence and other female writers that I haven't read yet. And funny! This novel made me laugh in my chair. Audibly. I can't remember the last novel - Bridget Jones' Diary? Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse? - to make me laugh out loud.

Recently orphaned Flora Poste makes a plan to sponge off relatives instead of work for her keep. She is intrigued by the gloomy prospects...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
The adventures of Flora Poste, who embarks on a career as a parasite and moves in with the Starkadders of Howling

I began this book thinking: "Wow, very witty, very interesting, very much in the 4 star range..." To: "Umm...less interesting than I thought, but engagingly quirky and the English humor isn't bad...maybe 3 stars" And finally: "O.K. this is just stupid. The main character reminds me of Mary Poppins meets the setting of "Napoleon Dynamite" where he works on that creepy farm and the weathered farmhand offers him raw egg-juice...this is a slightly funny 2 stars and I hope I can get through the last...more
Philip Jackson
Stella Gibbons' first novel is also her most widely known. She was never to repeat the instant success which was afforded to Cold Comfort Farm, despite writing over 20 further novels, including a Cold Comfort sequel.
It is a wonderfully funny novel, ostensibly written as a parody of the works of such authors as Mary Webb, Thomas Hardy and DH Lawrence. However, familiarity with the works of those authors is not required to enjoy Cold Comfort Farm, a book so full of wit and sunny optimism that it...more
I heard about COLD COMFORT FARM for the first time while I was on study abroad in London my sophomore year of college. Some of the girls in my group were chatting about the film adaptation of it one night and I listened in as they laughed and laughed and quoted perfectly hilarious lines that had me itching to watch it myself, particularly given the wonderful cast, which includes Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellen, Rufus Sewell, and Stephen Fry. One of the girls had actually read the book itself and t...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The author made liberal use of two time-tested props for comic effect: similes and funny names (even for cows: Feckless, Graceless, Pointless and Aimless). It wasn't the smiles or chuckles I've had while reading this, for I had none, but the two mysteries introduced early on which made me finish this: 1. the nasty thing Ada Doom saw in the woodshed when she was young; and 2. what they did to Robert Poste which made them owe his daughter Flora a great debt. I was expecting something, a revelation...more
One of my best friends in high school was given an old copy of this book, from when it was first published in the '30s, by a smart, quirky elderly friend. At the time nobody else seemed to be reading it, at least nobody else our age. Both of us devoured it, loved it, and went around quoting it at school ("I saw something narsty in the woodshed!"), cementing forever our places in the high school hierarchy (the really weird, geeky kids) and annoying the hell out of our other friends. Imagine how s...more
Nicki Markus
I came to this book wanting to like it and wanting to find it funny...but I was disappointed.

I found the storyline a let down and never really cared about any of the characters who all seemed one dimensional.

I read to the end to find out the answer to the mystery only to discover the author never bothers to tell us, which left me annoyed.

I have given it two stars as I didn't loathe it - but I didn't feel it deserved more as I just never felt any real interest or excitement in it.

This is not a bo...more
Clever & much sassier than expected!
Genia Lukin
Recently, I've read Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley's supposedly satirical portrait of English intelligentsia. Let it never be said, that I disliked the book for its author, because I love Huxley, and admire his work... But Crome Yellow bored me quite to tears.

Then, there was this book.

Cold Comfort Farm is all the things Huxley was trying to do with Crome Yellow, and more. It is, for one, hilariously funny; in 250 (more or less) brief, concise pages, Gibbons manages to lampoon everything and everyon...more
Flora Poste finds herself suddenly orphaned and recipient of only £100 pounds a year when she is 24. She decides to fall back on one of her many relations, and ends up at Cold Comfort Farm - where there have always been Starkadders - with her Aunt Ada Doom, cousin Judith and myriad other relations. She takes it upon herself to sort out everyone's lives, whether they want them sorted or not.

At first, I really struggled with this book. Even towards the end when I found it somewhat easier to read,...more
A century ago, it was fashionable to admire the purity of a country life; the simplicity of village souls; the heavy prose that exalted nature. Along came Stella Gibbons to take the scenario and run with it, and decades of readers have benefited by her hilarious version of the pastoral novel. Flora Poste, the young and impoverished orphan, is disinclined to do anything as demeaning as earning her own living. She has a token hundred pounds a year, which she is willing to bestow on any relative wh...more
May 29, 2008 Kathy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathy by: Book club
Shelves: favorites
Reading this book is like watching a really great actor "chew scenery."
You know it's over the top (in this case intentionally so), but it's such great fun. The first two chapters are just a warm up. Once Flora gets to the farm, the tale really takes off.
Amazing characters, fanciful descriptions, hilarious antics. There is so much going on in this book that I think I must buy it to enjoy repeated helpings.
According to my meagre research, this was Stella Gibbons' first novel, one that she could ne...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Please tell me you'll read this book! Don't leave me alone in the woodshed!

Err, oh, sorry about that, lost it for a moment.

This is an....interesting little book. Yes I say that a lot, but it's so often true of books that don't fit a simple template. That go their own way so to speak.

Stella Gibbons having read the books of an earlier writer, one Mary Webb who concentrated on spiritual struggles and the hardness and difficulty of a worthy life was moved, refreshed and given joy by those books...a...more
Justin Evans
In which Ms. Gibbons destroys most of the forms taken by literary pretension: over description? Check. Idiotic affective-fallacy prose? 'Emotional Depth'? Tricky but pointless changes of narrative focus? Noble savage worship? Irrationalism? Hatred of convention? Realism in general? Silly attempts to bypass realism? Over-precise verbs? Check times 9. Lawrence, Hardy and a number of lesser literary luminaries are put firmly in their place, along with all their metaphors and goopy, viscousy adjecti...more
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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,...more
More about Stella Gibbons...
Nightingale Wood Westwood Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm Conference At Cold Comfort Farm Starlight

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“One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favorite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing gown.” 48 likes
“I saw something nasty in the woodshed.” 41 likes
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