Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stella Gibbons: Cold Comfort Farm

I will begin reading Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm this weekend. If you are reading along with me and wish to make comments, you can enter them in the comments section to this post. When I finish, I'll put up my reactions to the novel here.

The Sunday Times reviewer said, "Very probably the funniest book ever written . . . a brilliant novel along classic lines . . . "

Now I wish I hadn't read that--usually books or films or whatever seldom if ever match such exaggerated praise.

Oh well--time to push on. This is the first book that will fulfill my New Year's resolution of reading two books every month from my TBR bookcase.

I have started Cold Comfort Farm-- 68/239 pages.

I have to say that it isn't "the funniest book every written." It is a comic novel though, with the usual low key British humor. The humor is mostly in the situation so far: Flora Poste, a young highly educated woman and recent graduate, is left an orphan. Her inheritance is small, around 100 pounds a year and no property. She has had an expensive education, and now that she is twenty, "she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living." Is there a touch of Jane Austen here?

Her solution to her problem of surviving--go live off her relatives. And so, after sending off letters to several relatives, she decides to accept the invitation to stay at Cold Comfort Farm. Not only does she decide to bless them with her presence, but she is also going to improve their way of living, to bring the benefits of a civilized life to them.

Jan. 18, I have finished Cold Comfort Farm

More later . . .

Any comments?


  1. I had to wait to get the book from my library because of the ice storm here in the South. I got it yesterday, and am at chapter 4. The writing is clever so far, but not "laugh out loud" funny. ( I think it's more of a dry wit.) I'll post more as I get further into it.

  2. Cheryl,

    I agree. It definitely isn't a knee-slapper, or at least not my knees anyway. I'll post a commentary in a few days.

  3. I've finished the book. I thought it was ok, but I doubt I'd read it again. It reminded me a bit of Jane Austen's Emma, but in a setting by Thomas Hardy. I liked the movie better, because I only had to spend 90 minutes with these people as opposed to hours reading the book. I think I'd have liked it better if it was shorter - like a short story or even a novella. The purple prose descriptions of the countryside were funny the first time, but less funny each subsequent time I read them. The movie's plot moved along quicker than the book, but it included all of the major plot points ( if I remember correctly). I'm glad I read it, though, because I was curious to see how closely the book followed the movie.

  4. Cheryl,

    I might read it again, but that would be several years down the road. I have too many books waiting for me to pick this one up some time soon.

    I would still rate it an enjoyable read.