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Cold Comfort Farm (Cold Comfort Farm)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  32,406 Ratings  ·  2,454 Reviews
'I saw something nasty in the woodshed'

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; their sons, lustful Set
Paperback, 233 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published September 8th 1932)
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Petra Eggs
Update I've just watched the film. It's even better than the book, by a long way. It's very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna Ab Fab Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Matthew Gatheringwater
Oct 19, 2007 Matthew Gatheringwater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sad sacks.
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
Nov 19, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 15, 2007 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cold Comfort Farm is the perfect comfort read. It is a wonderful blend of British charm, comic characters, and a clever young woman at the heart of it all.

Flora Poste cannot abide a mess. After her parents died and left her with only 100 pounds a year, she decided to live off relatives for a while. She settles on some cousins, the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. When Flora arrives at the farm, she sets out to make some changes and tidy everything up, even if it means upsetting her st
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 20, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 1001-core, british, comedy
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
Sep 24, 2014 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.

Stella Gibbons turns her attention instead on having a good time and on romance, penning a rusticated novel of manners in which Flora Poste, a highly educated and sophisticated young lady from the London high society sets out to clear up the muddle of Cold Comfort Farm. The unprepared reader might be tempted to compare Gibbons with P G Wodehouse, and at least in one aspect, he/she will not be far off the mark : this is a laugh out loud comedy displaying
Virginia Woolf is enraged,

she writes to Elizabeth Bowen in 1932, that the esteemed Prix Etranger award has gone to someone named Stella Gibbons. "Who is she?" she asks. "What is this book?"

The Starkadders were not like most families. Life burned in them with a fiercer edge.

And when Flora Poste is flung among them in their great crouching, rotting farm, she immediately commences meddling. She aspires to write Persuasion, but she's more of an Emma herself - Emma accidentally transported to Northa
Mike Puma
Dec 12, 2013 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-author, 2013
Review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.
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
Barry Pierce
Eh, it just wasn't for me. I really wanted to like this but it just felt too... saccharine. The sweetness of it turned sour in my mind. However, the writing is good and very simplistic, nobody would find any trouble with it. The cast of characters are very memorable and incredibly idiosyncratic. I did enjoy the parody of the novels of Hardy and the Brontës and such but it was very hit and miss for me. Oh well.
Jo Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

"For, if she lived at Cold Comfort as a guest, it would be unpardonable impertinence were she to interfere with the family's mode of living; but if she were paying her way, she could interfere as much as she pleased."

A wonderful novel, possibly the only modern classic I will ever fully enjoy. Not a comedy but a satire, but done with a love for pastoral classical writing that I think the author felt
Aug 29, 2007 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
This is one of those books I've been trying to avoid for a while, inexplicably since I saw the 1995 movie, of which I remembered very little except for two words: Rufus. Sewell.

Oh, Rufus. It was this movie that made me fall for him, and then I saw Dark City, and that was it. Smitten. Don't ask me to explain it. I cannot. It would just be a stuttering mess of an anatomy lesson: "Cheekbones! Guh, eyes!" I don't know. It's just... when I see him, dirty things start happening inside. Maybe because i
May 13, 2011 Sparrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wodehouse fans?
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Mar 24, 2017 Laysee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I needed a respite from sad stories. A good friend suggested that I steal away to Cold Comfort Farm. It was anything but cold comfort. My farm stay was pleasant and spiced with good laughs.

Cold Comfort Farm is a comic parody of rural life. You meet a few cows with unbelievable names like Feckless, Graceless, Pointless and Aimless! You meet the insular Starkadder family where every male is named Adam or Seth or Reuben or Micah. Everyone believes he or she is doomed to eternal bondage to the farm
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
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

"We are not like other folk, maybe, but there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm..."

Cold Comfort Farm is a classic novel that aims to subvert the idea of the 'farmhouse novel'. Stella Gibbons is good enough with her use of language certainly, but the plot itself fails in the delivery. By which I mean that, at times, the development of the story was rushed in favour of delivering an idea.

What Gibbons is great at, however, is using nuance and subtlety. She creates a commentary on so

-It took ages to get into this, the first half was so boring - the humour, the writing, the characters, none of it worked for me. I hated the silly made up words and the flowery descriptions, I know the descriptions were meant to be satirical but I found them annoying. Then there was the irritating Flora pushing herself into all the silly problems at Cold Comfort Farm and interfering with the nonsensical Starkadder family. I was on the verge of DNF'ing but at the halfway point everything
Jun 19, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 12, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lapl, 1001-bymr
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
Megan Baxter
Jun 13, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick easy book as I'm nearing the end of the BBC's Big Read. Down to fewer than ten books to go, now. This particular list has been something I've been slowly working my way through for the last three or four years, and the end is in sight. I thoroughly enjoyed this entry. It's light but amusing, with entertaining commentary on other literature. I finished it quickly, and have taken a while to get to the review, as I had one weekend two weekends ago where I finished five books. I'm almost cau ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I didn't get the joke. :/
MJ Nicholls
I tittered. I chortled. I snorted. Job done.
Nov 08, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 28, 2007 Alisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
2,5-2,75 aun no me decido.

¿Saben qué? Vean la pelicula mejor (la de 1995). De todos modos.

"There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort!”

do bright php

When Flora Post lose her parents, she really didn't feel sad, instead she decided to live with relatives. The chosen ones? the Starkadders in Sussex.

I feel kind of bad that I have not liked this book. I do not mean that it is a bad book, but I expected to find as promised: a Super fun story.

Flora is a 'modern' woman of the 30's, but she didn't want to w
Mar 21, 2009 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 about Stella Gibbons...

Other Books in the Series

Cold Comfort Farm (3 books)
  • Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm
  • Conference At Cold Comfort Farm

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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.” 80 likes
“I saw something nasty in the woodshed.” 61 likes
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