Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm. - Stella Gibbons

This is novel is an artifact of the interwar years of Great Britain and a satire of the great and small English authors who wrote so passionately about the deep and rich life of the rural poor. I confess I'm not as familiar with the authors Stella Gibbons is lampooning in Cold Comfort Farm as I should be, other than Austen, I've read a novel and a half of D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy apiece, and I'd never heard of Hugh Walpole until I had to find out who she was mocking in the preface. Other popular writers of the time were more responsible for the content and the character of the Starkadder Family and Cold Comfort Farm itself were so bludgeoned into obscurity I can't bring myself to name them here.

The plot involves one Flora Poste, an elegant and educated girl of 19 who finding herself without parents and knowing the stigma attached to living off of friends, decides to foist herself on some unknown relatives in Sussex. She finds the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm to be hampered with ignorance, psychosis, stifled ambitions and general uncleanliness. One by one she begins to transform them to her liking.

It is all very contrived and patronizing, but a few cuts come in close and I can't say Gibbons was wrong. It was entertaining and passed a few cold evenings. I read the Folio Society edition and was disappointed, for the first time, in Quentin Blake's illustrations. They didn't do anything for me or for the story. Happily, the text carries itself.