Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cold Comfort Farm” as Want to Read:
Cold Comfort Farm
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cold Comfort Farm

by
3.91  ·  Rating details ·  40,442 ratings  ·  3,211 reviews
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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cold Comfort Farm, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rebecca Plenty of people, from the U.K. especially, prefer the book. It's certainly worth reading! It gives you a slightly different take on the story. (I lov…morePlenty of people, from the U.K. especially, prefer the book. It's certainly worth reading! It gives you a slightly different take on the story. (I loved the movie and the book.)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,442 ratings  ·  3,211 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Cold Comfort Farm
Petra-X
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 27, 2011 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 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Manuel Antão
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Muriel Spark-ish Tartness: "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons


The first two-thirds of it are much funnier than the last third. Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn't a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora's plans at the last minute. That said it's quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons' sentence constructio
...more
Duane
Cold Comfort Farm is a stinging satire and outrageously funny parody of the literature about rural English farm life, especially by Sheila Kaye-Smith, Mary Webb, and to a lesser extent, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. I haven't read much by the former mentioned authors to appreciate the full extent of Gibbons jabs, but it doesn't matter because the humor is obvious. Gibbons writing was very clever and her cast of characters would have made Dickens proud. Very funny and very entertaining. 4.5 sta ...more
Lobstergirl
Nov 19, 2009 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
Joey Woolfardis
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 fe
...more
emma
THIS BOOK RULES!!!!

I mean seriously, oh my god! It's funny. Flora (our protagonist) is a feminist queen of getting sh*t done and not taking anything from any man ever in the history of time. All the characters are hilarious. The language and voice are unreal. I want to live inside this book!!!!!

Well, just kidding. All of my trying-to-move-in-and-permanently-inhabit-a-fictional-world energies are currently taken up by the film Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (2018). I am really tryna become Lily Jam
...more
Beverly
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best satiric novel ever written, bar none. I loved the movie too.
Roman Clodia
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious! Review to come tomorrow...
-------------------------------------------------
This book was chosen by a book group in response to the general gloominess of January/February - and I found myself giggling throughout. The set-up is that Flora Poste, clutching her well-thumbed copy of The Higher Common Sense, finds herself living at Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place inhabited by the Starkadder family all of whom have been reading far too much rural melodrama...

Gibbons has enormous fun w
...more
Diane
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jan-Maat
For a long time I did not read Cold Comfort Farm because I thought it had been written by Nancy Mitford. I mention this because I lay awake in the cold light of dawn for some time trying to remember Nancy Mitford’s name, trying to work backwards from Oswald Mosley without success. Not that there was ever any reason not to read a book by Nancy Mitford, but I had co-incidently decided that Stella Gibbons and Nancy Mitford were one and the same person. I might think that this was slightly crazy but ...more
Alex
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 20, 2010 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, 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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Mike Puma
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, english-author
Review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.
Barry Pierce
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 rated it liked it
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
...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy-sorta
Rural Gothic

The humor of this glorious funny book resides mainly in Gibbons' masterly control of prose style; if you have only seen a filmed version, you know less than half of what the author has to offer. Yes, she creates a wonderful gallery of extraordinary characters, and the story clips along nicely if rather predictably, but it is the author's language that really gets you laughing out loud. Written in 1932, the book is a parody of a certain kind of rural melodrama popular at the time, but
...more
Terri
I needed something funny to read and this did the trick. I can see why this book is a classic. Loved every page! Highly recommend. Five stars.
Antoinette
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a satire and an homage to famous British authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte's and Thomas Hardy to name a few.
Flora Poste is a recently orphaned socialite of little means. She is nineteen years old. She can choose to work or to live with relatives. She chooses to live with her country relatives, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. For one so young, she is a smart, savvy woman who decides she must improve the conditions on the farm. It was a joy to watch her work her magic. Thi
...more
Melindam
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wuthering Heaths gets a long overdue Jane Austen-makeover!

And the result is: something frivolous, cheeky, hilarious & very sensible.

This BBC Radio dramatisation does full credit to the novel and takes it even 1 level-up as does the the movie with Kate Beckinsale.

Highly recommended.
...more
El
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
...more
Anne
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-bymr, lapl
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
Mara
What a truly strange book... that delighted me. This is a book of hilarious small details. Her friend's reputation for collecting brassieres. Adam's insistence on referring to Flora as "Robert Poste's child" every other sentence. The cows constantly losing their limbs. It read kind of like the British version of a Mel Brooks' send up of Wuthering Heights, if that makes sense? Yeah, a trip, but I was very charmed by it and rarely have related more to a character than I did Flora
Kathleen
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
“But her spirit was of that rare brand which becomes cold and pleased at the prospect of a battle, and her dismay did not last.”

In this short novel you’ll be treated to an extensive brassiere collection, a group of cows with the best names ever (Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless), and a mystery about something that must have been pretty darn nasty that happened in the woodshed. You’ll be guided along by Jane Austen, D.H. Laurence, and a book I wish was real called “The Higher Common Sen
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Apr 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
I didn't get the joke. :/
Rebecca
I’d heard so much about this over the years. It was one I had to be in just the right mood for, though – I’d picked up my secondhand copy and read the first few pages on four different occasions before it finally took. If you recognize the phrase “something nasty in the woodshed” or know of a fictional plant called sukebind, you’ll appreciate the extent to which the story has entered into popular culture.

When Flora Poste’s parents die of the “influenza or Spanish Plague” (oh dear), she’s left an
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • I Capture the Castle
  • The Pursuit of Love (Radlett & Montdore, #1)
  • The Diary of a Nobody
  • Lucky Jim
  • Diary of a Provincial Lady
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Swallows and Amazons (Swallows and Amazons, #1)
  • Excellent Women
  • Cider With Rosie
  • A Town Like Alice
  • Regatta
  • Love in a Cold Climate and Other Novels
  • Love in a Cold Climate (Radlett & Montdore, #2)
  • Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Lolly Willowes
  • The Doctor Wears Three Faces (American Autobiography)
  • Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book
See similar books…
253 followers
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

Related Articles

Stand-up comedian, writer, and actress Ali Wong is adding another gig to her already packed résumé this fall: author. 44600621 Won...
72 likes · 11 comments
“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.” 90 likes
“Well, when I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as Persuasion but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, 'Collecting material'. No one can object to that.” 69 likes
More quotes…