Monday, August 3, 2009

"The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged ..."

There are a few books that it seems like just about everyone in your reading circle has already read. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons is one of these books. Although I watched the film a few years ago, I feel like I'm the last person to have picked it up. I'm sure that's not actually the case so I'll go ahead and summarize for those who haven't read it.

Flora Poste is an orphan with a very small income. She is only nineteen, too young to really be out on her own, and she doesn't want to work. Despite an offer from a friend to remain with her and train for a job, she decides instead to write to all of her known relatives to see if any of them will take her in. She receives positive answers back from all of them and oddly chooses the farm of the Starkadder family, Cold Comfort Farm. When she arrives, she realizes that there is a lot of work to do to make them acceptable members of society. Luckily, this is just the sort of thing she feels qualified to do. In the home are her cousins (who call themselves her aunt and uncle), their sons, Seth and Reuben, a daughter, Elfine and many other close and distant relations. There are also some strangely fragile cows and a cooped-up bull. Flora sets out to improve the lives of all on the farm -- man and beast.

This book was written as a comedy in reaction to the sappy, moody books being churned out at the time. Once you get the hang of the vocabulary, you find that it really is funny. Gibbons has a hilarious system that she explains in the forward about marking the really well-written sections with one to three stars to alert critics to the prime parts. She actually does it! She writes with a decent amount of sarcasm but also some outright jokes. Everyone in this book is a caricature on purpose so you have to take just about everything with a grain of salt. The resolution of the story is sweet and you come to strangely like almost every character, even the ones who were most repulsive at the beginning.

This was yet another read that applies to the 1% Well-Read Challenge. One thing I'm finding in this challenge is that variety seems to be a key element to the choosing of the list. Some are obviously books that are typical of a certain era or style but others are completely atypical. I'm really enjoying the books that I chose so far. I will definitely keep progressing through the list even past the end of this challenge.

Glad to have only mildly strange relatives,

Support this site and buy Cold Comfort Farm on Amazon or find it at your local library.


  1. I love CCF. Wonderful stuff. And - returning to a previous topic - it is well worth a re-read!

  2. Nope - not the last person - I haven't read it yet either! I'm glad you enjoyed it - sounds like quite an interested read.

  3. Count me as one who hasn't read it either. In fact, I've never even heard of it. Boy do I ever feel out of the loop! Thanks to you I now know it exists and will heat right over to an online bookstore and check out cost. It sounds really fun.

  4. Jux - I think this would be a re-reader for me too. I'm definitely going to go watch the film again too because I remember really liking it and for the same reasons that I liked the book.

    Elizabeth - It always feels like you're the last but then everyone else comes forward. So you're never alone in not having read something!

    Booklogged - Glad that I could lead you to this one. It's just so unique and funny but also sweet.

  5. Yep, I haven't read this one yet either! Sounds interesting!!